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Broadband RFI Nets Significant Response

21 October 2002 Media Statement

Broadband RFI Nets Significant Response

The first stage of Project Probe, the Government’s project to ensure all schools and communities have access to high speed internet services by the end of 2004, has met with an enthusiastic response from potential suppliers, the Government said today.

Thirty responses have been received to the Request For Information (RFI) which went out to potential suppliers in late July, with a third of those covering more than one region.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard and Industry and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton said the response exceeded expectations.

As a result, the project team will be given more time to assess the RFIs and to consult with regions and other interests in preparation for the next stage - the release of the Request For Proposals.

The RFP will now be issued in late November with a closing date of late January, Trevor Mallard said.

“We’re dealing with some pretty complex issues here that range from assessing and encouraging demand for the service to the mix of technologies that can be used to achieve the Government’s aim of high speed internet access for all schools and communities. Extra time at this stage of the project will ensure we get it right. We’re now looking at roll out from May onwards with access to broadband services for all schools in place by the end of 2004.”

The level of response to the RFI showed that significant competition existed in the telecommunications sector – a view supported by Southland’s decision to select a Vodafone/ Walker Wireless consortium as its preferred supplier.

Ministers also announced that they have agreed in principle to support the Southland project as a pilot for Probe around the country. That support is subject to further evaluation of the proposal and Southland’s own ongoing discussion with its preferred suppliers.

Jim Anderton welcomed the leadership demonstrated by the Southland proposal which could provide a good model for government/ regional partnerships that may be considered in other regions.

The government is keen to work with private sector groups who have also indicated that they would benefit from wide broadband access.

“Ultimately, each region will have to find the model that meets its specific requirements. Southland is one of several regions that has put a lot of effort into this issue in the last year or so. The Government funded pilot programmes there and elsewhere have helped shape Probe so far – the experience gained there will continue to ensure we meet our goals, and reap the economic, education and social benefits, of comprehensive broad band coverage,” Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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