Im­prov­ing ru­ral con­nec­tions

The Southland Times - - News - Ben Bootsma ben.bootsma@stuff.co.nz

Poor in­ter­net cov­er­age in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties has a far more dam­ag­ing ef­fect than peo­ple just not be­ing able to log on.

There are still many parts of South­land that do not have good or re­li­able cov­er­age, and that is putting those com­mu­ni­ties at a dis­ad­van­tage for so­cial con­nec­tion and busi­ness deal­ings.

On Tues­day, the trav­el­ling NEThui road­show will be in In­ver­cargill and will try to ad­dress is­sues with tech­nol­ogy and how it af­fects the south.

NEThui South­land pro­gramme chair Stu Flem­ing said the ru­ral con­nec­tiv­ity panel would dis­cuss real so­lu­tions for ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

‘‘That’s go­ing to be mak­ing those is­sues very vis­i­ble and high­light­ing that they have real prob­lems that need real so­lu­tions.’’

It was an im­por­tant dis­cus­sion to have be­cause the fu­ture of tech­nol­ogy was af­fect­ing how peo­ple in­ter­acted with their com­mu­ni­ties, Flem­ing said.

‘‘If the com­mu­nity has bad or lim­ited in­ter­net, then their com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and in­volve­ment is af­fected as well.’’

Wyn­d­ham res­i­dents have been out­spo­ken in the past about how a poor in­ter­net con­nec­tion makes it tough for busi­nesses, and Ken­ning­ton res­i­dents have been de­mand­ing bet­ter in­ter­net ac­cess.

The Ken­ning­ton res­i­dents say the com­mu­nity as a whole would like fi­bre broad­band, as a com­mu­nity not hav­ing ac­cess to faster in­ter­net is caus­ing real dam­age.

It is the first time the hui has come to South­land.

‘‘NEThui is a very strong fo­rum, it has al­ways been of­fered at a na­tional level. Shift­ing the fo­rum to the re­gional fo­rum means we get a more di­verse dis­cus­sion,’’ Flem­ing said.

Con­nec­tion won’t be the only fo­cus at the hui. It will also look at how peo­ple will use tech­nol­ogy in the fu­ture.

‘‘It’s not enough to ad­dress a prob­lem at just the tech­nol­ogy level.’’

On the panel will be Labour MP Dr Liz Craig, Ve­loc­i­tyNet man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Trevor Ful­ton, Ru­ral Con­nec­tiv­ity Group en­gage­ment man­ager Caitlin Metz, and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Users As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Craig Young.

KAVINDA HERATH/STUFF

NEThui South­land team Ad­ina McDow­ell, Bridget Napier and pro­gramme chair Stu Flem­ing ahead of the fo­rum on Tues­day.

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