The South Taranaki District Council is seeking feedback on an initiative to establish a Digital Development Fund (DDF) of up to $1 million to help provide high quality, high speed access to the internet and mobile networks across the district.
Council Chief Executive, Craig Stevenson, says the initiative comes in response to the Government’s decision to extend their Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiatives and establish a Mobile Black Spot Fund, to the tune of $360 million.
“Councils’ across New Zealand have been invited to submit bids to these contestable government funds,” Stevenson says.
“In an effort to create a point of difference with our bid, the Council is proposing to create a Digital Development Fund.
“This Fund would be primarily used for co-investment with either the Government or other service providers and would be repaid over time as people connect up to faster broadband.”
Stevenson says the DDF will help the Council achieve its vision for the district’s digital services.
“The Fund will help build a high quality, open access, backhaul fibre network along all parts of SH3 and SH45 that fall within our district,” he adds.
“This fibre network will then allow existing service providers to provide enhanced broadband and mobile coverage into our rural areas via wireless and other technologies.”
Stevenson says the Council believes improving mobile cell phone and internet connections is the “single most important thing” it can do to enhance regional economic development.
“Good digital services have economic and social benefits and enhance the health and safety of our residents,” he adds.
Stevenson says the Digital Development Fund would be created by ring fencing up to $1 million from the Council's Long Term Investment Fund.
“By using this funding source, the Council can ensure there is no impact on rates,” he adds.
Stevenson says members of the public can give the Council feedback on its proposed Digital Development Fund until November 8 before making its final decision on the Digital Development Fund on December 14.