Coun­cil puts up UFB cash

The three wards are get­ting very frus­trated. Our dis­trict should be at the top of the list.

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By STEVE ED­WARDS

Af­ter some ner­vous­ness, Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil has ear­marked up to $50,000 to help se­cure ul­tra-fast broad­band.

At its meet­ing on April 8, the coun­cil agreed to de­velop a reg­is­tra­tion of in­ter­est for the Gov­ern­ment’s na­tional UFB roll­out ini­tia­tive.

In Septem­ber, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy spokes­woman Amy Adams, joined by Prime Min­is­ter John Key in Mor­rinsville, said Mata­mata, Mor­rinsville and Te Aroha were ‘‘strong con­tenders’’ for in­clu­sion in a UFB ex­ten­sion.

How­ever, a spokesper­son from Adams’ of­fice said re­cently there was no timeline for a roll­out in Mata­mata-Pi­ako.

‘‘ At this stage de­tails of the ex­ten­sions of the UFB scheme, in­clud­ing where it will go and time­frames, firmed.’’

The or­der of roll­out is determined fol­low­ing a com­pet­i­tive bid process, which takes into ac­count the cost of de­ploy­ment, strength of con­sumer de­mand, and reg­u­la­tory and other as­sis­tance from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Mata­mata- Pi­ako Mayor Jan Barnes said UFB was ‘‘top pri­or­ity’’ at an eco­nomic devel­op­ment think-tank held in Mor­rinsville in Fe­bru­ary.

‘‘The three wards are get­ting very frus­trated ( at not be­ing

are

still

to

be

con- in­cluded in the roll­out),’’ she said. ‘‘Our dis­trict should be at the top of the list.’’

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Don McLeod said it is likely that Mata­mata-Pi­ako will be com­pet­ing with a num­ber of other cen­tres and the qual­ity of the com­pleted pro­posal will need to be high.

‘‘We need to do the best job we can.’’

A staff re­port said the dis­trict has ex­pe­ri­enced good eco­nomic growth and has a pos­i­tive out­look.

‘‘ UFB may as­sist with com­mu­nity growth and en­cour­age new in­vest­ment into all as­pects of busi­ness, plus en­cour­age the re­lo­ca­tion of busi­nesses to the area.

‘‘Ar­guably, UFB will add value to our econ­omy and en­sure that the dis­trict is a vi­brant place to live, work and in­vest.’’

How­ever, the re­port said coun­cil could in­cur costs in reg­is­ter­ing its in­ter­est and not be suc­cess­ful.

‘‘ There is no guar­an­tee that UFB will pro­vide any eco­nomic ben­e­fit to the dis­trict and the anec­do­tal ex­pe­ri­ence of other towns such as Whanganui is that up­take of the ser­vice has been limited.’’

Whanganui was one of the first prov­inces to roll­out UFB. As of De­cem­ber, 31 per cent of the area’s fi­bre op­tic net­work in­fra­struc­ture had been built but only 8 per cent of small and medi­um­sized busi­nesses had con­nected to it.

MPDC mem­ber

Ash

Tan­ner said while UFB is a ‘‘nice to have thing’’, the re­al­ity is how many peo­ple can af­ford to hook into it.

Ex­ist­ing net­work speed was sat­is­fy­ing 99.9 per cent of cus­tomers in the dis­trict, he said.

The meet­ing heard that it would cost the coun­cil more than $40,000 a year to connect its Te Aroha head­quar­ters.

Cr Nicki Robb said the coun­cil needs to know costs for the busi­ness, ru­ral and res­i­den­tial sec­tors then con­duct a sur­vey of po­ten­tial users.

‘‘I be­lieve there will be huge ben­e­fit to busi­nesses.’’

Deputy Mayor James Thomas said the com­mu­nity had come back ‘‘very strongly’’ in favour of UFB at the think-tank.

‘‘We have al­ready been given a heads-up by the com­mu­nity,’’ said Jan Barnes.

‘‘We would be very silly not to pro­ceed.’’

Photo: TERESA HAT­TAN

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