Ultra-fast fibre broadband will be extended to 80 per cent of New Zealanders and rural connectivity will be expanded, Communications Minister Amy Adams confirmed in Kerikeri today.
Delivering on manifesto commitments made in September, the Government has agreed to extend the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) programmes – taking the Government’s total investment across these programmes to around $2 billion.
“As part of the process of extending both the UFB and RBI projects, I’m asking local authorities to get directly involved in identifying the next priorities and thinking about the ways they can support better connectivity in their areas,” Adams says.
The Government is inviting local authorities to make commitments aimed at preparing their communities to make maximum use of potential infrastructure and encouraging more rapid and extensive deployment in those areas.
“Councils regularly lobby me for better communication services in their districts so we’re inviting them to show us how they could support the roll out and uptake of better services in their districts if the Government was to provide them,” Adams adds.
“Local council rules can play a big part in how quickly, and at what cost, better connectivity can be delivered.
"This next step invites local authorities to take an active, constructive role in planning how their local communities can take advantage of the roll out and uptake of broadband in their areas.”
At the same time, telecommunication companies are being invited to indicate the technology mix that will supply the best service to rural areas.
As announced during the general election, four Northland towns (Kerikeri, Kaitaia, Kaikohe, and Dargaville) are strong contenders for inclusion in the UFB (fibre) extension, along with 31 other towns, based on the methodology used for the original roll-out.
Economic analysis of the first stage of the UFB build found that high-speed broadband could have benefits to New Zealanders end-users of $32.8 billion over 20 years.
“More jobs and higher incomes, new business opportunities and, improved access to education, health care and emergency services are just some of the benefits of better connectivity,” Adams adds.
“That’s why the Government is building on its existing commitments and investing an additional $152 million to $210 million to lift the UFB programme coverage from 75 per cent to 80 per cent of New Zealanders.
"We are also investing $100 million to expand the Rural Broadband programme, and $50 million to improve mobile coverage in black spot areas along main highways and in popular tourist destinations.”