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Kaingaroa Forest community gets ultra-fast broadband

Kaingaroa Forest community gets ultra-fast broadband

One of New Zealand’s most remote rural communities in Kaingaroa Forest, near Murupara, is being connected to ultra-fast broadband today, thanks to the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) and the support of the 2020 Communications Trust.

Five families as well as the school and a local business are being connected today to broadband fibre internet services using wireless links and the school as a community hub.

“While this is a modest achievement in terms of the numbers being connected, we believe this is an exciting leap forward in terms of delivering broadband internet services to rural communities,” said Laurence Zwimpfer, Chairperson of the 2020 Trust’s Computers in Homes programme. “We have been working with Kaingaroa Village School and internet service providers for some months to identify an affordable internet connection solution for families who have been part of our Computers in Homes programme. Most families in Kaingaroa Forest Village no longer have telephone lines and as a result have been unable to get access to the internet from their homes. That is all changing today.”

“Last year, we observed that Chorus had installed a fibre cable to the school, but this had not been connected for school use. Our project has been to get this fibre into operation, not only for the school but also for the rest of the community, especially our Computers in Homes families. We have worked with a wireless infrastructure provider (WiMax Developments Limited), Chorus (as the provider of the fibre cable) and TrustPower Kinect(as the internet service provider). The project has also relied on support from Kaingaroa Forest School, a local wood processing business (KLC) and the Village Management Committee. Without the support of all these parties, the fibre would still be sitting unused today.”

The Kaingaroa Forest village community is looking forward to the opportunities that ultra-fast broadband can deliver.

“Because we live in a small rural community in the middle of the largest planted forest in the southern hemisphere, we think it is even more important for our kids to have ultra-fast broadband access to the internet than city children who have lots of other learning opportunities. A Wellington school can visit Te Papa at any time, but for us it is a major effort to take our 34 children on a school visit,” said Lorraine Dunlop, Chair of the Board of Trustees for Kaingaroa Forest School, and also a participant in the Computers in Homes programme. “We look forward to not only being able to visit Te Papa online but also other museums from around the world.”

The primary objective for the Kaingaroa project has been to deliver affordable broadband internet services for Computers in Homes families in Kaingaroa Village, but the 2020 Trust has also been working with InternetNZ to find ways to leverage the investment being made by government in connecting schools to ultra-fast broadband to speed up internet connections for whole rural communities.

“We believe the Kaingaroa Forest model could have applicability in other rural communities throughout New Zealand,” said Richard Orzceki, a member of Nga Pu Waea, the National Maori Broadband Working Group. “Sharing the fibre backhaul costs addresses the affordability concerns raised by small rural schools and the use of wireless fast-tracks rural communities into the broadband digital world.”

The wireless links were installed late last year, using the school and KLC as access points, but it has taken nearly four months to get live internet services to the school hub. “We have really appreciated the support from our three technology partners – WiMax Developments, Chorus and TrustPower Kinect who have had to chart some new territory to get this all working. We hope their pioneering efforts make it easier now for other rural communities,” said Mr Zwimpfer.

About the 2020 Communications Trust:
The 2020 Communications Trust is a registered not-for-profit charitable trust that was set up in 1996 by the Wellington City Council to promote digital literacy, initially for Wellington citizens. In the year 2000 the scope was extended to include all New Zealanders. Our vision is for all New Zealanders to be able to fully participate in a digital world. In order to achieve this vision, everyone needs the opportunity and the skills to become digitally literate.

About Computers in Homes:
Computers in Homes is an initiative of the 2020 Communications Trust. First implemented in the year 2000 for 25 families at Cannons Creek School in Porirua, the programme has now helped over 10,000 families increase their digital confidence. The programme has demonstrated improved learning outcomes for children and employment enhancements for parents. Computers in Homes is 50% funded through the Government’s Digital Literacy and Connection fund, managed by the Department of Internal Affairs. The remaining support comes from businesses and communities through discounted and in-kind services.

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