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Farmers welcome further Rural Broadband infrastructure

11 August 2011

Farmers welcome further Rural Broadband infrastructure

Federated Farmers welcomes Communications Minister Steven Joyce’s release of two tender documents for the final Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) contracts. .

The additional contracts cover 192 schools, predominantly in zone three and also the 60 most remote schools for which a non-fibre, fast broadband solution is required. New to the RBI will be fast broadband links to family healthcare centres in rural areas and up to 82 libraries in rural communities.

“The government originally budgeted for a higher number of schools in this tender, but Telecom has since pulled a further 99 schools into its existing RBI contract. The addition of hospitals health centres and libraries will be funded through this saving,” Federated Farmers Telecommunications spokesperson Anders Crofoot says.

“The Zone 3 areas are generally those places on the edge of towns which do not fit with in the relevant geographic criteria for either the Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative (UFB) or the RBI. These locations are considered not densely populated enough to be considered for the urban for UFB, but have too many people to be considered rural.

“InternetNZ, TUANZ and Federated Farmers previously raised concerns with the Minister about the gap in service for people in Zone 3. We are pleased to see he has responded by issuing the tender documents this year, rather than in 2012 as previously planned. This is a great outcome for rural New Zealand.

“The Rural Broadband Initiative is about more than just farmers. It is intended to meet the needs of a quarter of all New Zealanders, 1.1 million people in all.

“A key aspect of the RBI is future proofing the rural community so everyone can take full advantage of the digital future. We all need to have equivalent access to the benefits fast and reliable broadband will deliver, especially in education and health advances that the cities have enjoyed for some time.

“Federated Farmers is delighted to see more broadband infrastructure being deployed into rural areas.

“Broadband isn't just about reducing isolation, but about enabling economic development to take root in the provinces rather than just the cities. Today, we're one step closer,” Mr Crofoot concluded.


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