Council puts up UFB cash
The three wards are getting very frustrated. Our district should be at the top of the list.
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
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.
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