The Far North District Council is the first to put its hand up and be part of the Government’s next stage of the broadband rollout, Communications Minister Amy Adams has announced.
“I’ve already received a commitment from the Mayor of the Far North District Council to work with the Government to explore the best way to extend broadband and mobile services in Northland,” Adams says.
According to Adams, this will help accelerate the roll out of high-speed broadband to towns like Kerikeri, Kaitaia and Kaikohe, and faster broadband to the rural districts in between.
“Far North District Council has been very vocal about the need to extend broadband and mobile coverage in their region," Adams adds.
"Like many councils around New Zealand, they’ve identified broadband as a key economic development driver to creating better jobs and higher wages.
“As a result, Far North is the first council to be part of the Government’s Registration of Interest process and will provide a substantive proposal on how they will support the build of build in their area.
“It’s great to have Far North on board and I’m encouraged by their enthusiasm. I look forward to seeing other councils step forward and nominate themselves as participants of the next round of the rollout.”
Far North District Council has agreed to be an active participant in the Registration of Interest process, which will help determine which towns and communities are selected for stage two of the deployment.
“I understand the Far North District Council is working very closely with Top Energy and Northpower to develop a competitive bid for extended broadband in Northland,” Adams adds.
“Northlanders have a well-earned reputation as early adopters of the broadband rollout, with Whangarei becoming the first fully-fibred town in New Zealand in May 2014.
“Whangarei is reaping the benefits that faster and more reliable connectivity brings, and it’s clear that Northland wants to extend those benefits further to other parts of the region.”
Kerikeri was one of the 35 towns identified as a strong contender for inclusion in any Ultra-Fast Broadband extension, along with Kaitaia and Kaikohe.
“Better connectivity is critical to building a stronger economy and creating more jobs and higher wages," Adams adds.
"Fibre will allow communities across New Zealand to take advantage of the opportunities the digital economy offers."
Adams commended local provider Northpower Fibre who have rolled out fibre to more than 21,000 businesses and households.
“Northpower have done a superb job completing the rollout of UFB in Whangarei," she adds.
"Uptake is ahead of national average, with Northpower connecting more than 50 Whangarei premises to fibre every week."
Rollout progress in Northland
According to Adams, the first stage of the UFB build in Northland is complete - Whangarei was the first UFB area to be completed in May 2014, with more than 21,000 businesses and households now able to access the network.
At present, UFB uptake is above the national average, at 15.9 per cent with more than 50 new Whangarei premises connected to fibre every week.
Furthermore, 96 per cent of state and state-integrated schools in the Northland area now have access to fibre (as at 30 June 2014) and all rural public hospitals and integrated family health centres will have access to fibre by the end of 2015.
RBI fixed line upgrades were 76 per cent complete in Northland (as at 30 June 2014) while around 21,000 households and premises have access to new wireless broadband service and around 12,500 to new or improved fixed line broadband services.