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Improved rural connectivity

Work on connecting some of the Wairoa district’s most isolated areas is progressing well.

Wairoa is part of a nationwide project being carried out by the Rural Connectivity Group which is focused on building infrastructure to connect rural people with a minimum of 400 new mobile and broadband sites scheduled to be built by December 2022.

In the Wairoa district, eleven new infrastructure sites have been identified with landowner engagement progressing well.

The group’s engagement manager, former Wairoa woman Caitlin Metz, said the district would benefit significantly from the programme.

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Ms Metz, and her colleague Jessica Lethaby, met with Council this month to provide an update on how the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) and mobile blackspots (MBSF) rollout is going for the Wairoa district.

They said it was great to work with such an enthusiastic Council which is helping to enable the connectivity and with engagement with landowners underway they are expecting the cell sites in the Wairoa district to be in place next year.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said the work that is being carried out is all about improving connectivity in the district.

“I have continually lobbied to have improved connectivity in the district. It has always been a priority to bridge the rural versus urban digital divide, and this programme is a big part of that.

“This Government seems to realise it is just as important for people who live in smaller rural areas as it is for people in the city.

“Mobile phones are such an integral part of many people’s lives and improved coverage is essential.

“It is also ideal to have Ms Metz onboard as part of the project as she is familiar with the district and the connectivity issues we face.

“This project is about rural connectivity. Everybody who lives in the country knows it can be an expensive and often unreliable service.

“The project acknowledges that connecting rural New Zealand is a challenging task due to rugged terrain, low population numbers and the cost of building and operating a network in remote places.

“It also recognises better mobile phone and high-speed broadband services are critical for daily life in rural New Zealand.”

The Rural Connectivity Group was established in 2017 and is funded from the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 and the Mobile Blackspot programmes and includes contributions from Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees.

As well as wireless broadband delivered over the 4G mobile network the plan targets mobile black spots including State Highways and tourist hot spots.

Due to the collaboration between the three mobile network operators and advancements in technology, the cell sites will be smaller, smarter and more efficient.

New Zealand’s connectivity will increase by 25 percent once the project is complete.

Ms Metz said the project aims to connect rural New Zealand though collaboration from rural communities, landowners, local businesses, Councils, iwi, DoC, NZTA as well as the group’s suppliers and mobile network operators.”

The local sites identified for broadband and mobile facilities are Frasertown, Putere Road, Ohinepaka, Whakaki, Ohuka, Cricklewood Station and Waihua Beach and just mobile sites at Mahia, Putorino, Smyth Road and Riverina Road.

Meanwhile, in town, contractors are on track to meet the Ultra-Fast Broadband completion roll out date of next month.

30 January 2019

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