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High speed internet moves into four more regions

13 October 2003 Media Statement

High speed internet moves into four more regions

High speed internet access is about to move into four more regions as part of Project Probe, Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton, Education Minister Trevor Mallard, and Information Technology Minister Paul Swain announced today.

Project Probe is a multi-million dollar government initiative, aimed at boosting education and economic development in regional New Zealand through the delivery of broadband technology.

The ministers today named ThePacific.net as preferred supplier for the delivery of broadband into the Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough region, Woosh Wireless as the preferred supplier in Canterbury, and Telecom as the preferred supplier in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne/Hawkes Bay regions.

“Today’s announcement sees us on target to bring high speed internet access into every New Zealand region, opening up significant and exciting opportunities for businesses, schools and rural communities,” Jim Anderton said.

"This government is keen to break down the digital divide between metropolitan and rural communities by providing affordable and reliable broadband services. That’s why we are investing tens of millions of dollars into this project. It’s an important part of our strategy to grow a more innovative economy.”

“ICT is also a crucial tool in schools. A report out today, 'ICT in Schools', has found that ICT is making a difference to quality teaching and learning for students, with two thirds of school principals reporting that it is resulting in major improvements to the quality of curriculum delivery in schools,” Trevor Mallard said.

"Project Probe is a critical infrastructure investment to ensure students and families, businesspeople and employees will have the same opportunities in education and in economic development, regardless of where they live and work.

“Our government is keen to see broadband extended as far beyond schools as possible and funding assistance from businesses, regions, community trusts and local government is helping this process. Close liaison with regional groups is an important part of Probe.”

The rollout to the four regions will benefit about 300 schools, and about 29,000 students. Announcements about the Project Probe rollout to the four remaining regions - West Coast, Otago, Manawatu, and Auckland - will follow shortly, as will a decision on a satellite provider for difficult to reach schools and communities.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Paul Swain welcomed the announcement.

“Information and communication technology has been identified as an area of considerable growth potential by the government alongside biotechnology and the creative industries in the government’s Growth and Innovation Framework.”

These announcements follow on from the first announcement in July this year of the broadband rollout to the Waikato, Wellington and Taranaki regions, and the launch by Prime Minister Helen Clark on Friday (10 October), of the Southland Project Probe rollout.

Attached: Questions and Answers, information about the preferred suppliers, and comments from the Probe regional liaison groups about the announcements.

The 'ICT in Schools' report, commissioned by the Learning Centre Trust of New Zealand is available online at http://www.learningcentretrust.org.nz/activities.htm.

See www.probe.govt.nz for more information.

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