RWNZ say wait still too long

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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.

Graphic: HAU­RAKI HER­ALD

RU­RAL ROLL­OUT: Tele­com and Voda­fone are among com­pa­nies vy­ing to bring faster broad­band to ru­ral ar­eas in­clud­ing the South Waikato.

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