RWNZ say wait still too long
TELECOM and Vodafone have joined forces to provide broadband in rural areas under the Rural Broadband Initiative.
The initiative seeks to improve broadband access to rural schools and a minimum 5Mbps broadband service to 80 per cent of rural households within six years.
It also aims to provide priority users with access to fibre-based broadband services.
The final deadline for proposals was last week and a decision on the successful tender could be made before Christmas.
Telecom and Vodafone announced a proposal to extend Telecom’s network to meet the RBI’s goals.
Telecom will be responsible for building fibre to schools and hospitals, cell sites and rural exchanges and cabinets.
Vodafone will be responsible for the design and build of open access tower infrastructure that Vodafone and Telecom XT will colocate their mobile services on, as could any other wireless service provider who wants to.
Both Telecom and Vodafone will also be making additional investments in their networks in the RBI covered areas.
‘‘This solution sees New Zealand’s two largest telecommunications providers combining their extensive resources and skills to bring the benefits of high-speed broadband to rural communities as quickly as possible,’’ Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds said.
‘‘It is in these very communities that so much of the nation’s economic wealth is generated.
‘‘By collaborating, our companies are showing that the telecommunications industry is working for the good of New Zealand to deliver a solution that will accelerate commercial success and social connectivity of our rural communities, employing fixed and mobile technology.’’
Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners said ‘‘we want to provide the best technology fit, giving the best bang-for-buck for the New Zealand taxpayer.
‘‘Wireless is now recognised internationally as critical in reaching rural areas where it is the most efficient way to deliver high-speed internet access.
The spin-off benefit of building more cell sites to deliver a broadband service is the significant expansion of mobile voice, SMS and data coverage in rural New Zealand.’’
Rural Women New Zealand welcomed the collaborative approach from the two companies and others who had entered proposals under RBI.
‘‘It is good news for rural people and for the New Zealand economy with the initiative set to deliver services urban people take for granted,’’ Rural Women New Zealand telecommunications spokesperson Jacky Stafford said.
‘‘But it’s important we do not forget those in remote areas whose only option will continue to be satellite broadband.’’
In a white paper published earlier this year RWNZ advocated universal access to broadband at city prices.
‘‘We still stand by that target,’’ Mrs Stafford said. ‘‘Whether people access broadband via fibre, wireless or satellite there should be a level playing field. For those in remote rural areas access to affordable broadband is just as important, if not more so and the Government must ensure their needs are met as well.’’
RWNZ would also like to see the rural broadband rollout achieved as quickly as possibly and certainly faster than the six-year timeframe set by the Government.
RURAL ROLLOUT: Telecom and Vodafone are among companies vying to bring faster broadband to rural areas including the South Waikato.