Broad­band fund­ing wel­comed

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers is wel­com­ing con­fir­ma­tion the $ 252 mil­lion in­crease for ru­ral broad­band it suc­cess­fully lob­bied for will fi­nally gen­er­ate re­sults for ru­ral New Zealand.

‘‘ Fed­er­ated Farm­ers will con­tinue talk­ing to the Gov­ern­ment and the suc­cess­ful par­ties to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the agree­ment and the time lines in­volved,’’ said Don Ni­col­son, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers pres­i­dent.

‘‘ The fed­er­a­tion said the Gov­ern­ment should take ex­tra time to en­sure it got the de­ci­sion right so we hope to­day’s con­fir­ma­tion is ev­i­dence of that.

‘‘Fed­er­ated Farm­ers is keen to as­sist speed­ing things along. In an­tic­i­pa­tion of to­day’s an­nounce­ment and to make it eas­ier for fi­bre to be rolled out across farms, we’ve been work­ing with the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor on stan­dard form ease­ments.

‘‘Fed­er­ated Farm­ers is in the process of writ­ing to all coun­cils ask­ing them to al­low higher telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion tow­ers in ru­ral ar­eas. This is crit­i­cal for wire­less broad­band and to pro­vide a path­way to next gen­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies.

‘‘But the Ru­ral Broad­band Ini­tia­tive is more than just be­ing about farm­ers. It is in­tended to meet the needs of a quar­ter of all New Zealan­ders – 1.1 mil­lion peo­ple in all.

‘‘ On the face of it, the an­nounce­ment is a pos­i­tive step for­ward but we’ve yet to get the full pic­ture on what the con­tracts mean in prac­tice.

‘‘For ex­am­ple, what will be done for those who seem to have missed out on to­day’s an­nounce­ment. We also need to learn a lot more about peak down­load and up­load speeds, cov­er­age and of course, pric­ing.

‘‘Broad­band is vi­tal for all farm­ers with in­creas­ing moves to­wards pre­ci­sion farm­ing, e-com­merce and e-Gov­ern­ment. We may not wel­come some of the com­pli­ance out­comes but fast re­li­able broad­band is nec­es­sary for us to com­ply.

‘‘ An­other key as­pect is fu­ture-proof­ing farm­ers and pro­vin­cial New Zealand so that we can all take full ad­van­tage of the dig­i­tal econ­omy.

‘‘Ru­ral folk, even those in the ru­ral towns, are peo­ple too. We want to have the same fast and re­li­able ac­cess to so­cial me­dia, ed­u­ca­tion and health ad­vances that the cities have en­joyed for some time.

‘‘Broad­band isn’t just about re­duc­ing iso­la­tion but en­abling eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to take root in the prov­inces rather than in just the cities. At least to­day, we’re one step closer,’’ Mr Ni­col­son con­cluded.

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