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New Zealand’s Remote Western Towns Get Faster Internet

There are many things that make faster internet makes better. Not only can one communicate better but it would mean faster and more effective transactions in business. World-class Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) is now available in Haast, one of New Zealand’s most remote West Coast towns, Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark announced recently.

A reliable, fast and secure internet connection is an important asset in the digital economy and that is why the government is boosting rural connectivity.

We extended the UFB rollout through the Provincial Growth Fund to include more rural communities in the scheme and ensure rural businesses are equipped with the tools to be more innovative and productive – which is what we need as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. We promised to continue to boost rural connectivity at the 2020 election – and we will continue delivering on that commitment.

 – David Clark, Minister, Digital Economy and Communications

He shared how the government struggled for nine long years to roll UFB outside of urban centres but that the country is on track to reach its goal of 87%  of all New Zealanders having access to UFB by the end of 2022. On the West Coast alone, the population with access to UFB has surged from 23% to 71% since 2017.

Alongside its fibre connection, Haast now has a new 4G mobile tower replacing an old 3G site. This will cover around 90 households and businesses as well as 14km of State Highway 6. Ultimately it will bring significantly improved mobile connectivity to the area.

As such, all of these connectivity boosts are going to be a great driver for business in the region. As Damien O’Connor, the Minister for Rural Communities, detailed this is a huge milestone for the Haast community and South Westland. This will greatly benefit many people and businesses, as improved connectivity is a key driver of economic growth, he added.

The nearby settlement of Hannah’s Clearing will benefit too. They received 4G coverage for mobile and broadband services and a further 4G mobile tower covering the settlements at Neil’s Beach and Jackson’s Bay will be commissioned at a later point in time.

The ongoing work will see existing cell towers upgraded and new towers built in rural areas experiencing poor performance, as well as fibre, additional VDSL coverage and other wireless technology deployed in congested areas.

Separate to the UFB rollout, by the end of 2024 around 47,000 rural households and businesses will experience faster internet speeds and better reception than they do right now courtesy of the Rural Broadband Initiative. This unlocks further opportunities for economic growth and improved services to rural communities in the digital age, as detailed by David Clark.

Digital transformation can indeed usher in positive change for the community. Faster internet should be a leg up for both businesses and families in the most remote of places such as Haast. That can certainly mean better protection in times of the virus.

A classic example here is the recent rollout of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATS). With millions of RATS to be deployed, people should be happy to receive them and protect themselves from the claws of a deadly virus. The problem is how to deploy such a huge number so everyone can have easy access. The answer, Wellington found out is in the use of the internet making ordering easy as reported on OpenGov Asia.

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