Broadband funding welcomed
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.