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Mobile Towers Enhance Rural Connectivity in New Zealand

400 government-funded mobile towers have been delivered by a mobile network operator, marking another significant milestone for the government in enhancing connectivity for rural and remote households and businesses.

The Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, Ginny Andersen, recently made the announcement, emphasising the importance of reliable mobile and internet services, especially in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle. The government remains committed to ensuring that more rural homes, businesses, and communities have fast, reliable broadband connectivity, irrespective of their location for seamless access to education, work, and other essential services.

The towers are funded by the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative, which has also played a pivotal role in providing crucial broadband and mobile coverage to rural and remote communities throughout New Zealand. The government has been actively investing in various programmes aimed at enhancing connectivity across the country, reflecting its commitment to bridging the digital divide and ensuring equitable access to modern communication services.

Under the government’s connectivity programmes and as of December 2022, nearly 1,211 km of State Highway have gained mobile coverage. Further, 114 tourism spots have mobile coverage, more than 600 maraes have been connected to broadband, and around 80,000 rural homes and businesses now have access to improved broadband.

With the recent allocation of an additional $43 million from Budget 2022, the government’s total investment in improving rural broadband capacity has now exceeded $100 million. This funding will be utilised to implement further upgrades in rural areas, with the goal of benefiting approximately 69,000 households and businesses. The work is expected to be completed within the next three years, reflecting the government’s continued efforts to enhance connectivity and bring reliable broadband services to rural communities.

The government is also working with 15 Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) across the country to offer rural broadband coverage under the Rural Broadband Initiative. These partners provide wireless rural broadband to remote and rural areas.

Last year, the government completed rolling out the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) project. Through the project, which is one of the country’s largest infrastructure deployment projects, over 1.8 million homes across 412 cities and towns were given access to world-class connectivity. The project covered 87% of the population, as OpenGov Asia reported. An official stated that the milestone would not have been possible without successful public and private partnerships. The government commended all the companies who have helped deploy UFB across the country over the past 12 years.

The UFB programme was initially rolled out in larger cities and high-density areas. It was later expanded to cover smaller and more rural and remote towns, some of which have populations of fewer than 300 people. UFB along with other government connectivity programmes such as the Rural Broadband Initiative and Mobile Blackspot Fund have put the government on track to ensure 99.8% of the population has access to improved broadband by the end of 2023.

The government has also released “Lifting Connectivity in Aotearoa”, which sets out the high-level connectivity vision for New Zealand over the next ten years. It will ensure that all New Zealanders have access to high-speed connectivity networks and that the country is in the top 20% of nations with respect to international connectivity measures.


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