Broad­band roll­out will speed farm life

South Waikato News - - RURAL -

Farm­ers’ abil­ity to take full ad­van­tage of the MINDA soft­ware pro­gram has al­ways been ham­pered be­cause some farms can­not get broad­band.

But that is about to change with the Govern­ment spend­ing $ 285 mil­lion on high-speed ru­ral broad­band, which will en­able the ser­vice to be pro­vided to more ru­ral ar­eas across New Zealand.

The largest provider of herd and farm man­age­ment ser­vices in New Zealand, Live­stock Im­prove­ment Cor­po­ra­tion ( LIC), sup­plies the MINDA ser­vice and is con­se­quently back­ing the govern­ment ini­tia­tive.

LIC Farm Sys­tems gen­eral man­ager Rob Ford is a mem­ber of the Govern­ment Ad­vi­sory Group rep­re­sent­ing the con­cerns of his com­pany’s share­hold­ers and said it was dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend the value of the Govern­ment’s ini­tia­tive to ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

‘‘Which is why I’m ask­ing LIC share­hold­ers who don’t cur­rently have ac­cess to send us an email or let­ter in the mail and tell us if they want high speed broad­band and, as­sum­ing they do, what it will mean for their fam­i­lies, their busi­nesses and their com­mu­ni­ties.

‘‘The Govern­ment is pro­vid­ing the in­fra­struc­ture. Tele­com and Voda­fone have the ca­pa­bil­ity in place but to en­sure a smooth roll-out, we need to un­der­stand the ex­pec­ta­tions and con­cerns of the users. We need to know what the per­ceived bar­ri­ers are for adopt­ing the tech­nol­ogy and how they plan to utilise it in their home and on-farm.

‘‘Some farm­ers might be look­ing for­ward to be­ing able to carry out more shop­ping online, or it could be as sim­ple as en­joy­ing the much faster speed, par­tic­u­larly for their MINDA records,’’ he said.

The Ru­ral Broad­band Ad­vi­sory Group is re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing feed­back on the Govern­ment’s plans, tak­ing into ac­count the views of the ru­ral end users.

Mr Ford was ap­pointed by Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Steven Joyce be­cause of his farm­ing knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence from over­see­ing LIC’s suite of tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts.

High-speed in­ter­net and wire­less tech­nol­ogy across more farms would mean more farm­ers would have ac­cess to more tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts and farm soft­ware pro­grams.

‘‘Up­wards of 8000 farm­ers ac­cess their an­i­mal records elec­tron­i­cally on MINDA and dur­ing the busy times of the year these farm­ers will ac­cess their elec­tronic MINDA records at least once a day.

‘‘ Which is great if you have broad­band, but on the lower-speed in­ter­net this can be quite a lengthy process,’’ Mr Ford said.

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