Farmers have welcomed moves by Fonterra to take on Telecom over rural internet services.
Fonterra is looking for partners to set up an alternative network, using satellite and wireless technology, through its dairy cooperative subsidiary, Fencepost.com. TV and phone services could also be carried on the network to make it viable.
Dairy and beef farmer Geoff Kane of Shannon uses the internet every day, to check production, news and weather, and new farming techniques.
But he says slow downloads through old telephone lines and exchanges mean many frustrated farmers minimise internet use, or ignore it altogether.
Fencepost's acting chief executive, Mike Ryan, says farmers need access to the latest information, and Fonterra needs to be able to communicate effectively with its farmer base.
Fonterra needs farmers to boost productivity 4% a year to stay internationally competitive, and fast internet is the most effective way to give them the information and knowledge they need, Ryan says.
So far, five companies have put forward partnership proposals.