Chorus has completed its work under the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), bringing better broadband to hundreds of thousands of people all over New Zealand following a $234 million initiative.
Upon completion of the rollout, the telco joined Communications Minister Amy Adams for an event in Waitomo to celebrate the completion of the five-year project.
“It has been a great privilege to be part of the RBI,” says Mark Ratcliffe, CEO, Chorus. “There is no question that access to better broadband makes a significant difference to the lives of rural New Zealanders, and this initiative shows how passionate Chorus is about improving rural connectivity.
“There are changing consumer needs when it comes to broadband, both for households and businesses and the RBI has been an integral part of meeting this change.
“People have higher expectations of broadband performance as our usage behaviour changes and the internet becomes integral to every aspect of life.
“Typically, homes now have several connected devices at any one time, so we are all using far more data and many of us are demanding faster and more reliable broadband speeds to stream or download high definition TV and video.
“The impact on rural businesses and the economy has also started to gain a momentum that can be felt in many communities, with the availability of faster broadband meaning the emergence of new businesses which could never have been contemplated just a few years ago.”
Ratcliffe says Chorus’ RBI work has resulted in more than 1200 cabinets being upgraded across New Zealand - this means about 110,000 households and businesses now have access to faster broadband, with uptake at about 85 percent.
In addition, more than 1,000 rural schools and 39 health providers can also access fibre.
“Chorus’ key target of connecting all rural schools is particularly satisfying, as this will result in a major long-term benefit to the nation, and we are particularly pleased to observe the strong take up of fibre by schools across the country,” he adds.
Before the cabinet upgrades, residents and businesses in these rural areas could generally only access broadband speeds of between 1 and 5Mbps. However, during peak times, those speeds would likely slow considerably.
Following the upgrades, Ratcliffe says most residents and businesses should now be able to experience speeds of between 10 and 20Mbps, depending on the distance to the broadband cabinet.
Residents who live within about 1km of their cabinet should be able to access a VDSL broadband service with speeds in excess of 50Mbps - this is the fastest service over Chorus’ existing copper network.
While the RBI is now complete, Ratcliffe says Chorus “remains committed” to improving broadband in rural New Zealand. As part of this commitment, Chorus will upgrade a 140 cabinets by the end of this month, as part of its business as usual work, with plans to upgrade further cabinets before the end of the year.
“This work has significant benefits for regional New Zealand,” Communications Minister Amy Adams adds.
“For example, in Northland, 210 cabinets have been upgraded, servicing around 16,600 households and businesses with better broadband. It’s now up to each community to make the most of this increased connectivity.
“As the first phase of our RBI programme draws to a close, significant achievements have been made for rural connectivity nationwide.
“However, there are still parts of the country where we want to further improve broadband and mobile coverage, which is why we are investing an additional $150 million for RBI phase two and the Mobile Black Spot Fund so we can continue to improve rural connectivity.”