Potential e-commerce, video-conferencing and video-on-demand users are among those who will be out of range of a planned Telecom DSL service in Taranaki.
They will have to be catered to using other methods such as wireless links, says a report prepared for the district councils by regional development agency Venture Taranaki and London Consulting.
An arrangement entered into by the New Plymouth District Council, and likely to be signed off shortly by the South Taranaki and Stratford District Councils, will underwrite to the tune of $536,000 Telecom’s upgrade of 14 rural Taranaki exchanges to DSL capability, allowing fast data services such as JetStream.
But it won’t end when the exchanges are all DSL-enabled, says Antony Stening, systems analyst at Venture Taranaki.
“The exchanges should be upgraded within 90 days of the agreement being signed off, except for a couple which will take longer and then, 83% of rural Taranaki will be DSL-enabled. However, we want 100% to have broadband access and will be partnering with Telecom to look at ways to address the final 17%.”
Most of the region’s farmers would fall into the last 17%, he says, “and it’s essential we look at ways to serve them”.
Those potential users may be served by wireless or satellite, “but that’s just speculation at this stage”, Stening says.
Stening says the technology will be leading edge, not bleeding edge. “The last thing we want is something that doesn’t work 10% of the time.”
Dairy company Fonterra might also have a role as it plans a wireless rural network.
DSL is a good solution for the first stage of the project, Stening says. “We have a relatively dark fibre loop around the mountain.”
The main beneficiaries will be families and small businesses, but Taranaki’s dairy and energy industries — which uses fibre, frame relay and other means to get the bandwidth they need — may use the DSL service to connect with remote workers, he says.