World cup for rural connectivity
Saturday’s Rugby World Cup experience shows that New Zealand deserves a Broadband World Cup for getting broadband to its rural communities.
That’s the view of WISPA.NZ, the
industry group supporting 28 Wireless Internet Service
Providers who collectively provide broadband to an estimated
70,000 mostly rural customers.
“The great news is that WISPs dealt with the surge in traffic almost faultlessly,” WISPA Chairman Mike Smith said. “The problems were with the international link, and with some customer devices. But the part in between worked to perfection.
“WISPs can claim a lot of credit for bringing rural Kiwis in from the broadband boondocks. Tens of thousands of rural homes and businesses now have broadband at city speeds and city prices, with the number increasing daily.
“That’s something we wouldn’t have dreamed of a decade ago. Rural communities in New Zealand have far better broadband than most other Rugby World Cup countries, notably Australia.
“WISPs are committed to finishing the job, with government support, so every rural home and business can enjoy the benefits for social inclusion, entertainment and business. Connectivity to 100% of the community is within our sights.”
• - Most WISPs, or regional telecommunications companies, are locally owned businesses founded in the early 2000s.
• - Initially they used their own capital, but in recent times 17 of them have received government funding through the Rural Broadband Initiative to expand their networks into remote areas that would otherwise be uneconomic.
• - About half WISP connections use “WISP Wireless” – a series of hilltop towers with radios that bounce the Internet signal from one to another, then down to the homes below. The other half are re-sold services from other telcos.
• - WISP wireless requires line of sight visibility. Hence it requires many more towers than cellular services, but these are much lower cost.