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Wireless Broadband Extended to over 500,000 houses in New Zealand

Advancements in information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as the internet, have resulted in improvements in life expectancy, GDP, life satisfaction, and environmental sustainability. Internet access is crucial to New Zealand’s effective digitalisation. As a result, the New Zealand government has established strategic priorities in the digital domain, including internet access.

Recently, New Zealand’s network company made its uncapped wireless broadband product available to more than 500,000 households, bringing uncapped connectivity to approximately 1.2 million New Zealand addresses in urban and rural areas. The expansion means that nearly two-thirds of New Zealand addresses, including more than 10% of rural households, can now stream their favourite shows and music, connect with loved ones, and work from home without having to worry about data caps.

According to the company’s Product Director, the company has a long-term goal of providing unrestricted capacity to all New Zealanders and is investing more than $100 million per year in its mobile network to make that goal a reality. “We are really happy to be able to take this next step toward uncapping New Zealand. We know Kiwis’ appetite for data is growing and as we continue upgrading and building more cell sites to increase capacity, we’re making uncapped broadband available to as many people as possible,” she said.

Instead of relying on physical infrastructure like fibre or copper to the home, wireless broadband connects customers to the nearest cell tower. It has the same speed as a 4G mobile connection and is usually faster than ADSL broadband, making it especially appealing to many rural customers who do not have access to fibre. Because there are no installation requirements, wireless broadband can usually be set up in minutes, and since it runs through the company’s mobile network, customers get end-to-end support rather than dealing with multiple parties if they have a fibre or copper fault.

The newest wireless broadband offer flexes the price a customer pays based on their monthly usage, giving them the freedom to use more if they want, and enjoy savings when they use less. “In other parts of rural New Zealand where we have great coverage but more limited capacity, we’re offering the broadband service for customers to sign up to before 6 September and retain the plan thereafter. This will enable us to closely monitor network performance and make sure we could continue to provide an excellent service in these areas if made permanent, given the added data use.”

OpenGov Asia reported that authorities recognise that if New Zealand is to compete internationally it would need better broadband. Enhanced internet speeds boost video conferencing and enable faster access to cloud services for New Zealand enterprises. Both are considered necessary for effective foreign trade by the government.

Broadband is considered essential infrastructure and the country’s digital divide underscores the difficulties in bringing its benefits to all people, regardless of demographics or geography. Tens of millions of people do not have access to in-home broadband, mobile data, or both. These disparities are especially pronounced among rural, low-income households. While physical internet access remains a challenge for some households, many more struggle to afford services and navigate digital spaces.

The Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) programme is transforming New Zealand’s telecommunications sector. This initiative is supporting both the digital economy and the emerging digital media sector. UFB is expected to be completed by 2020, with approximately 540,000 premises connected by early 2016. This infrastructure will allow the residential and business segments to make much better use of the potential for IP-delivered services and content, allowing the country to remain at the forefront of the digital future. Though some of these deployments may not be completed for several years, they will undoubtedly pave the way for many new and exciting developments in the future.

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