Productivity demands ultra fast broadband
‘‘The government should be thinking about a step change and future proofing for rural communities as it considers the outcome of its Rural Broadband Initiative process,’’ Federated Farmers chief executive Conor English said.
This follows media speculation on the outcome of the initiative for up to $300million of government funding over six years.
‘‘ Federated Farmers is very ambitious not just for rural New Zealand but for all New Zealand. That is why we are so passionate about the initiative and lobbied very hard to get the investment level from $48million to $300millio,’’ Mr English said.
‘‘While this still doesn’t match the level of investment going into the urban initiative, it is critical that the government gets it right. They have an opportunity to set our rural communities up for the next quarter century with a world beating broadband service.
‘‘ Federated Farmers’ bottom line is pretty simple. Of the one million Kiwis deemed rural, we want the greatest number poss- ible to get the fastest broadband speeds (down loading and uploading), as quickly as possible, as efficiently as possible and as cheap as possible,’’ he said.
‘‘ We need the infrastructure along with competition as strong drivers of innovation, service and costs. There are some exciting solutions around fibre and wireless. While we would ideally like fibre to every farm, as in the cities, we know this may not be realistic. However we are seeing wireless 4G LTE being rolled out in countries such as Australia, India, and China which provide greatly enhanced performance there. We don’t want broadband speeds in six years time that Wellington had six years ago. Rural New Zealanders should not be treated as second class citizens. Ultrafast rural broadband means more productivity and social connectedness. Rural people are people too. One thing we don’t want to export is our people.
‘‘We know that many of our city cousins would be interested in living in rural New Zealand if they too could get the speeds they enjoy in the city. Why overcrowd the cities? Excellent rural broadband would take pressure off environmental and infrastructure demand in places like Auckland. And those one million Kiwis deemed rural produce more than 65 per cent of our exports and provide the heart of our multi-billion dollar tourism industry.
‘‘We need the next big enabler of productivity so we can enhance that performance. Let’s face it, right now New Zealand needs every export dollar it can get,’’ Mr English said.