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Five rural Broadband Challenge bids selected

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister of Communications
21 July 2006 Media Statement


Five rural Broadband Challenge bids selected

Five Broadband Challenge rural and under-served applicants have been approved and invited to finalise a funding agreement for their projects, Communications Minister David Cunliffe says.

The five applicants are in the "rural and under-served community category" of the Broadband Challenge. Six applicants for the urban-focussed category have been given a further period to refine their proposals.

“I have been impressed by the level of interest and willingness of local communities to invest in partnership with the government, to help meet their own broadband needs.” Mr Cunliffe said.

The $24 million Broadband Challenge aims to provide seed funding to improve the availability and quality of broadband internet access. It aims to establish up to 15 urban fibre networks by 2009, and to develop broadband internet access solutions for rural and poorly served communities.

It is a key part of the Labour-led government's Digital Strategy and drive to transform the New Zealand economy.

Of the total amount, $1.4 million (GST exclusive) is set aside in Year One under the “Probe Extension” fund specifically for rural or under-served communities. This portion of the Broadband Challenge builds on the successful work in the government’s earlier partnership investment in broadband through Project Probe.

The five applicants approved and invited to finalise a funding agreement are Tuhoe Education Authority ($500,000), Waikato 2020 Communications Trust ($47,000), Waitakere City Council (granted $175,000), WIKarekare Trust in West Auckland ($5000), and West Coast Development Trust ($600,000).

A sixth applicant, Tangimoana 2020 Communications Trust, was unsuccessful in this round.

The steering group has written to the six applicants in the urban category seeking further information. Those applicants have until 10 August 2006 to respond. The further information will be considered alongside the existing documentation before decisions are made.

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Additional details

The Broadband Challenge – rural and under-served community applications

Six applications were considered under the rural and under-served community area of the Broadband Challenge. Five (with a total potential funding amount of $1,327,000) have been approved and invited to finalise a funding agreement:


Applicant Region Funding
Tuhoe Education Authority Tuhoe Rahu (Ureweras) $500,000
Te Pahu Community Network – Waikato 2020 Communications Trust Waikato $47,000
Waitakere City Council Auckland West Coast $175,000
WIKarekare Trust Auckland West Coast $5,000
West Coast Development Trust West Coast of the South Island $600,000

Further details on the applicants are available from www.digitalstrategy.govt.nz/bbc

The Broadband Challenge - urban applications

Applications to the Broadband Challenge under the more complex Urban category of the fund are in the process of being finalised.

The Digital Strategy Steering Group, the decision making body for the fund, met recently to review the independently assessed applications. The steering group decided that none of the applicants had sufficiently met the mandatory eligibility criteria as set out in the Broadband Challenge Funding Grant Criteria.

Following the process guidelines for the Broadband Challenge, the Chair of the Steering Group has written to the 6 Urban applicants seeking further information.

Peter Macaulay of the Digital Strategy Secretariat will contact each of the applicants to explain the basis of the independent assessments and provide continued support in further development of their applications.

Note: Thirteen applicants were invited to submit a full application following the Expressions of Interest stage. One applicant, Local Authority Shared Services (Waikato Region), decided not to submit an application for this year.

Further opportunities for the Broadband Challenge will be available in coming years for both new applicants and applicants who were unsuccessful in the 2005- 06 round.


ENDS

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