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Regional broadband access has Health boost

Regional broadband extension access has Health boost

Health’s involvement in Project PROBE, the government initiative to provide high speed internet access to all schools and provincial communities, will benefit everyone living in rural and smaller provincial communities, Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton said today.

“Health’s involvement provides the opportunity for people living away from main centres to be able to easily access services that they now have to travel some distance to obtain.

“Project PROBE is a very exciting initiative developed to ensure that through high speed internet access people in small communities can enjoy the same online opportunities enjoyed in Wellington or any major city.

“Major investment in broadband infrastructure is critical to improving economic and educational outcomes for all New Zealanders. Through the Minister of Health’s decision to have Health services join the regional roll out of high speed internet access through PROBE, the health sector can also gain benefits and improvements to health care.

“Ensuring this new infrastructure meets the health sector’s needs as well as those of schools and communities has the effect of increasing the potential level of demand for broadband services,” Jim Anderton said.

Jim Anderton said other government departments were being encouraged to take PROBE into account in their planning and he looked forward to making further announcements.

“But I’m also looking forward to seeing the private sector and public corporations coming on board as well. It’s already apparent, for example, that PROBE can assist Fonterra in further establishing their business networks and, at the same time this will provide additional support for growing demand to meet the needs of schools and rural users, including farmers,” Jim Anderton said

Developed jointly by the Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Education, Project PROBE is a major whole of government initiative with a significant amount of funding.

Project PROBE can enable development, and is not a solution in itself. It will provide the infrastructure to enable potential users to make the most of the opportunities that high speed internet access can provide. Telecommunications suppliers will be selected through a regional tender process.

Jim Anderton said the tendering process is well underway, with responses to the request for proposals (RFP) due early next month.

“The Ministry of Health provided direct input into the RFP and tenderers have been asked to respond specifically to its requirements. Discussions are continuing on more detailed information regarding access demand locations and services.”

Jim Anderton said the government had been working in partnership with regions to ensure community and regional needs were recognised. “The regional tendering process is an important part of Project PROBE. It’s going to help advance competition in the telecommunications sector, it will ensure that regional needs are met as well as producing the best outcome for the country.”

Visit www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/probe

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