​Vodafone leads UFB charge as telcos back Govt broadband targets

Telcos throw weight behind the government’s new connectivity target for areas outside the UFB footprint.

Vodafone and Chorus have thrown weight behind the government’s new connectivity target for areas outside the UFB footprint.

As reported by Computerworld New Zealand, Communications Minister Amy Adams claims all New Zealanders, regardless of where they live or work, will be able to access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2025.

By 2025, the government’s vision would see 99 percent of New Zealanders able to access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps (up from 97.8 per cent getting at least 5 Mbps under RBI).

In addition, the remaining one percent will be able to access to 10 Mbps (up from dial up or non-existent speeds).

Going forward, rural communities are set to benefit most under the new targets which mark a ten-fold increase on the current target peak speeds of 5 Mbps under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

Vodafone CEO Russell Stanners believes rural New Zealand is the “powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy” where access to high-speed broadband and mobile has become a critical tool on the farm and in the home.

As such, Stanners believes the peak broadband speed target of at least 50Mbps announced is “one which we are confident of delivering.”

“Delivering these speeds to 99 percent of New Zealanders is a commendable target,” he adds.

“We are committed to going further and faster for rural New Zealand. We’ve seen a big shift in the behaviour of rural customers.

“Over our rural network data usage has multiplied by 270 percent in the past two years with a 60 percent increase in voice growth.”

Stanners says the goals for the second Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) and the Mobile Blackspot Initiative must be to achieve the widest land and population coverage for the available funding, and roadmaps that are future proofed - including first class speeds.

For Stanners, the use of wireless technology in the more remote parts of New Zealand is the best way to leverage this significant investment.

“We have been delivering the first Rural Broadband Initiative since 2011 and we know our customers require access to high speed broadband and mobile everywhere, rather than at one fixed location,” he adds.

“Farmers do not stay still; they need constant access to wireless connectivity all around the farm to enable use of real-time digital applications that can improve productivity and manage costs.

“Getting the settings right is critical for ensuring New Zealanders can harness the economic and social opportunities afforded by ubiquitous and high speed connectivity.”

To date, Stanners says Vodafone has built 123 new cell sites and upgraded 326 cell sites under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) with more than 254,000 address points now having access to rural broadband (and mobile) services under the RBI.

Over Vodafone’s rural network, Stanners says data usage has multiplied by 270 percent in the past two years with a 60 percent increase in voice growth.

According to Chorus CEO Mark Ratcliffe, 50Mbps requires further “significant investment” in fibre, and potentially wireless infrastructure.

“As the highly successful Rural Broadband Initiative programme nears completion, Chorus is well placed to assist the government’s policy objectives and looks forward to the opportunity to participate in the initiative,” he adds.

“We think investors will also be keen to see the government’s discussion document on the post 2020 regulatory environment turned into appropriate legislation to ensure that investors see a fair return on the financial commitment implied by these bold and ambitious targets.”

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