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Six years for fast rural broadband not fast enough

30 September 2009

For immediate release

Six years for fast rural broadband not fast enough

Rural Women New Zealand’s telecommunications spokesperson, Jacky Stafford, says that the government should be putting more money into rural broadband now, instead of the planned six year roll out of its rural broadband initiative.

“It’s an equity issue. At the end of six years rural customers will still be playing catch up with their urban cousins who will have benefited from a further $1.5 billion investment in ultra-fast broadband by then,” says Ms Stafford.

“Six years is a long time to wait, especially for rural businesses.”

School children will also continue to lag behind urban students if they have to wait up to six years for fast broadband connections, and the situation is made worse because rural students do not have ready access to educational resources such as libraries, museums and other learning centres.

RWNZ’s comments are a response to the government’s plan to fund a $300 million rural broadband initiative through a combination of direct government funding and revenue from a more transparent and effective industry levy than the current TSO levy.

Rural Women New Zealand also has doubts about the likely uptake of the contestable funding by a range of providers, based on past experience in the rural market.

"Providers seem to have little appetite for servicing rural areas, and I am not sure that this initiative is going to entice them.”

RWNZ says satellite and wireless should also be part of the package.

“For many rural areas and customers these are the only options. We are a long way from cabinets and schools that are connected to the fibre network,” says Ms Stafford.


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