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Vodafone bridges the digital divide for Catlins residents

1 May 2014

Vodafone bridges the digital divide for Catlins residents

Vodafone has switched on a new cell site in the Catlins area – the first as part of the company’s Community Cell Site Scheme – providing mobile coverage to residents and visitors to the southern scenic route for the first time.

The eight metre tower near Haldane in the Catlins provides both 2G and 3G mobile services for the local community, as well as housing a communications facility for Catlins Search and Rescue volunteers.

The Community Cell Site Scheme is funded by Vodafone and designed specifically for those communities normally deemed too small to expect coverage, and which fall outside the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

The facility is the result of a unique collaboration between Vodafone, Venture Southland, contractors Arrow and Downer, and the local community.

Vodafone’s Head of Networks Tony Baird has championed the programme from the outset.

“Small communities see the benefit of having Vodafone’s reliable mobile coverage for both local economic development and communications purposes.”

Tony adds: “This is a true rural partnership. Under the scheme Vodafone provides the expertise, technical equipment and manages construction of the facility, while the community provides the land and is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the access track and site location.”

Catlins Search and Rescue member, Winston Callaghan, is convinced the new communications facility has the potential to save lives.

“The new antenna will provide better communications along the coast and in dense native bush, making co-ordination between search parties easier, and improving response times,” says Winston.

Venture Southland submitted a successful application to Vodafone’s Community Cell Site Scheme, and has been an integral part of the process to deliver the new mast.

Steve Canny, Group Manager Enterprise and Strategic Projects at Venture Southland, says he is delighted to see the project delivered.

“We commend the efforts of Vodafone and the Catlins community in supporting the Community Cell Site initiative. It’s been great to see the project come to fruition throughout the Southland and Clutha areas laying the foundation for effective mobile coverage.”

Bobbi Brown from Venture Southland was instrumental in seeing the project through to completion. She says the coverage is even better than expected.

“New mobile coverage reaching as far as the Curio Bay Holiday Park is going to make a significant difference to how these businesses operate.”

Three communities have been selected to receive new telecommunications facilities under Vodafone’s Community Cell Site Scheme. Alongside Haldane, a mast is proposed at Papatowai, (Catlins North), and construction at Waihau Bay in the East Cape is expected to commence later this year.

ENDS

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