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Rural Coast to benefit from Broadband Challenge

Media Release

For immediate release 28/11/06

Rural West Coast to benefit from Broadband Challenge

The $24 million Broadband Challenge to speed the growth of fibre networks throughout New Zealand will begin to benefit residents on the West Coast as soon as early to mid 2007.

Communications Minister David Cunliffe launched the first project in northern Wellington earlier this week and says the funding agreement is a milestone in rolling out the high-speed fibre networks that are critical for New Zealand's economic transformation.

It aims to establish a series of urban fibre networks by 2009, and to develop broadband Internet access solutions for rural and poorly served communities.

The West Coast project has been largely founded on a four way partnership between the West Coast Development Trust, the community through the West Coast Broadband Taskforce, the Government and Telecom.

The Taskforce has identified areas of priority where it believes there is enough community and overall economic demand and benefit for broadband.

This project has enabled the expansion of the telecommunications infrastructure network on the West Coast. While boosting areas of the existing network to be able to deliver broadband, it has also promoted several short fibre projects which, on their own, would not have been financially viable. The areas to be enabled include North Beach and Umere Rd Karamea, Carters Beach, Nelson Creek, Paroa, Arahura, Blue Spur, Kaniere Forks, Municipal Rd Kowhitirangi, Waitaha Valley and Whataroa Flat.

This expansion, along with previous project probe extensions will have increased regional broadband coverage from approximately 75% to 96.2%. The Trust regards this as an essential regional development project and is delighted at the final outcome.

Along with systems upgrades, what this now means to the West Coast customer is that they will be able to take advantage of the competition that unbundling has created and the ability to purchase cheaper broadband packages.

The project has also formed the catalyst for a partnership with the Gloriavale Christian Community to enable broadband into two extremely difficult places to reach, the Haupiri and Kopara communities.

The dairy and agriculture sectors are positioned to be major beneficiaries from this programme.

The West Coast Development Trust plans to take a key role in supporting the overall drive of ICT uptake across all sectors of the West Coast


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