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Project Probe: Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

What is Project Probe?

Project Probe is a major government initiative. It stands for Provincial Broadband Extension and has been developed jointly by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economic Development.

What are the benefits of having high speed internet access?

Rural businesses will be able to tap into the same internet capability as businesses in the cities. Broadband is a major tool for businesses in terms of accessing information, opening up new markets, enabling access to world markets, and driving increased efficiency through e-commerce.

Broadband internet opens up huge opportunities for students and schools in remote and isolated country regions – opportunities that students in urban areas already have. Through broadband students in Wairoa will have access to the same information as students in Wellington or New York. Broadband-enabled two-way video conferencing can allow school subjects like advanced sciences and mathematics and te Reo to be taught to learners in very remote schools.

The extension of broadband coverage will also bring enhanced benefits to rural communities in the form of improved access to health and social services and to a range of other public services and information already on the internet.

How much is Project Probe costing?

The tender process remains commercially sensitive and while it is still in progress no figures for the overall cost of the project will be released.

How does Project Probe work?

Fourteen geographical regions have been established throughout New Zealand, with a 15th region to provide national satellite coverage for those schools where a terrestrial solution would be impractical.

The 14 regions are: Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawkes Bay/Gisborne, Taranaki, Manawatu/Wanganui, Wairarapa, Wellington/Kapiti/Horowhenua, Nelson/Tasman/Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury (including Chatham Islands), Otago, and Southland.
Telecom, in conjunction with BCL, is the preferred supplier for the Waikato, Taranaki and Wellington regions.

Three of the regions – Southland, Wairarapa and Northland, elected to proceed with independent tendering processes with the understanding that, provided government objectives for Project Probe were met, funding from the Probe project would be available to meet at least some of their costs. These three regions are working with Woosh Wireless, formerly WalkerWireless.

See http://www.probe.govt.nz for more information.

Regional information- preferred supplier details

Telecom in conjunction with BCL
The selection of Telecom in the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne/Hawkes Bay regions builds on the company's earlier selection as preferred supplier in Wellington, Taranaki and the Waikato. These regions will each be entering into a joint partnering programme with Telecom to reach agreement over priorities and services.

The Bay of Plenty and Gisborne/Hawkes Bay are large, difficult to serve regions, particularly around the East Cape. Telecom’s combination of cabinet mounted mini-DSLAMs and the BCL BWA wireless provides an effective solution offering a high level of school and community coverage.

ThePacific.net
ThePacific.net has been providing wireless solutions in the Nelson region for some time and has already proven its ability to provide high quality broadband services to a number of schools and business customers in the region.

Locally-based in Richmond, ThePacific.net is owned by Tasman Solutions and Westport-based lines company Buller Electricity Limited. These companies are fully committed to fund the rollout and company expansion required to extend the network to provide services to all the identified Probeschools and communities in the Nelson/Tasman/Marlborough region.

The choice of The.Pacific.net has the endorsement of the Nelson region through the Probe regional coordinators, led by the Marlborough Economic Development Trust that is contributing to the cost of the service rollout.

Woosh Wireless
Woosh Wireless has already been selected as preferred supplier for the three regions undertaking their own tender selection process: Southland, with the initial services launched on 10 October 2003; Northland; and Wairarapa/Tararua. The Woosh Canterbury proposal uses the same broadband wireless technology from American company IP Wireless. Woosh Wireless was planning a commercial rollout in Christchurch and with the Probe subsidy this will now encompass a wider coverage area and provide service to all the identified Probe schools and communities in the region.

The choice of Woosh Wireless has the endorsement of the Canterbury region through the Probe regional co-ordinators, led by the Canterbury Development Corporation and the Mayoral Forum who will be contributing to the cost of the service rollout.


Comments from the Probe regional liaison groups follow.


Comments from the Probe Regional Liaison Groups

Tairawhiti/Gisborne

The Tairawhiti region is looking forward to the further introduction of broadband capability into the region.

"The benefit to the schools goes without question," says Rick Mansell, Gisborne District Council Economic Development Officer; "and the possibilities that can now be opened for the public and the business sector with the successful bidders are what needs to be focused on next.

"The Tairawhiti region, over the last few years, have made some very significant advances in all aspects of making the community a more prosperous and sustainable region.

"The introduction of the Probe project into the region adds to this momentum. The hidden jewel on the edge of the country is about to become a little more noticeable and attractive."

Canterbury

"We in Canterbury are very excited about the government's support to roll out broadband in our region. Our rural schools, businesses and communities need this essential infrastructure in place for Canterbury's future well-being," says Paddy Clifford, Canterbury Broadband Taskforce Chair.

Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough

“We welcome the selection of The Pacific.Net as the preferred tenderer for Probe in the Tasman/Nelson/Marlborough region," says Peter Johnstone, Probe Regional Liaison Coordinator.

"Our region had a number of priorities in addition to the basic goal of broadband to all schools; these included affordable connection and data charges, local control, wide geographical coverage, and access to all community sectors. The Pacific.Net was the tenderer that came closest to meeting these requirements.

"The Pacific.Net will also provide customers in Tasman, Nelson and Marlborough with another choice of broadband supplier and broadband technology.

"We look forward to working with The Pacific.Net over the coming months to start rolling out affordable broadband Internet to schools and communities across the region.”

Bay of Plenty

"We are very pleased to have reached this point of selecting our partner to deliver a regional broadband solution across the Bay of Plenty," says Jane Nees, Regional Coordinator, Bay of Plenty Region Broadband Liaison Group.

"We are looking forward to working closely in partnership with Telecom to ensure that we have the best possible access to broadband services for education, business and home consumers in a very cost effective manner.

"Telecom has indicated it is committed to working with our community, schools and businesses to get the most out of the technology.

"We believe that broadband infrastructure is critical to our economic competitiveness for the future. We look forward to realising the potential benefits of the technology to enable advances in health, education and overall economic growth across our region."

ENDS


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