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Eliminating the rural/urban divide

Eliminating the rural/urban divide

Rural schools to receive 1Gbps...

A New Zealand Regional Fibre Group submission that outlines plans to bring urban broadband speeds to rural New Zealand was submitted to the Ministry of Economic Development today.

The NZRFG’s submission on the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) reveals an intention to take fibre into the heart of rural New Zealand while maximising the open access principles the Government requires under the build.

And schools will be major beneficiaries, with NZRFG CEO Vaughan Baker confirming the group will provide network speeds of up to 1Gbps to rural schools – considerably faster than the Government’s proposed 100Mbps.

Mr Baker says the group’s business model and build design will ensure a substantial fibre-rich backbone from which service providers can leverage to provide fixed, wireless or mobile broadband solutions with ease – simply because only fibre can deliver upwards of 100Mbps.

“Along the way, the NZRFG plans to offer ‘Fibre to the Farm’ connecting as many rural households and businesses to fibre directly – offering 100Mbps network speeds to ensure a UFB equivalent experience is provided in rural areas,” he says.

“5Mbps just isn’t good enough for such a core sector of the New Zealand economy and one that contributes so heavily to our GDP earnings annually. Our proposal is about truly enabling rural New Zealanders.

“Our members are locally owned and regionally situated and they truly embody the principles of open access infrastructure operated on a non-discriminatory basis – more so than any other bidder. Essential infrastructure such as this will increasingly be treated as a utility over the next 100 years, therefore we are the natural custodians. We’re confident that our submission will demonstrate that.”

Mr Baker labels it a fibre rich solution that will eliminate the digital divide between rural and urban New Zealand by taking an open access fibre network as far into the rural heartland as is possible with the MED’s available funds.

“We firmly believe, and our members are proving it is possible with their existing fibre networks, that if minimum broadband speeds of 100Mbps are possible in urban New Zealand then this can extend deep into the rural sector.”

Mr Baker has also sounded a warning over a completely wireless or mobile solution for RBI, saying that rural New Zealand would miss out on the broadband infrastructure they deserve.

“We look forward to continuing discussion of our proposal with MED and a number of other parties – wireless, mobile and technology providers included. Our objective is to deliver a truly open access, non-discriminatory nationwide rural fibre network.”

“As I have said before, our members want to be providers of infrastructure that enables the delivery of competitive and innovative retail services adding value to the rural sector – just as is happening in the urban fibre build.”


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