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High speed internet rolls out into regions Q&As


Questions and Answers

What is Project PROBE? Project PROBE is a major government initiative. It stands for Provincial Broadband Extension and has been developed jointly by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economic Development.

What are the benefits of having high speed internet access? Rural businesses will be able to tap into the same internet capability as businesses in the cities. Broadband is a major tool for businesses in terms of accessing information, opening up new markets, enabling access to world markets, and driving increased efficiency through e-commerce.

Broadband internet opens up huge opportunities for students and schools in remote and isolated country regions – opportunities that students in urban areas already have. Through broadband students in Wairoa will have access to the same information as students in Wellington or New York. Broadband-enabled two-way video conferencing can allow school subjects like advanced sciences and mathematics and te Reo to be taught to learners in very remote schools.

The extension of broadband coverage will also bring enhanced benefits to rural communities in the form of improved access to health and social services and to a range of other public services and information already on the internet.

How much is Project PROBE costing? The tender process remains commercially sensitive and while it is still in progress no figures for the overall cost of the project will be released.

How does Project PROBE work? Fourteen geographical regions have been established throughout New Zealand, with a 15th region to provide national satellite coverage for those schools where a terrestrial solution would be impractical.

The 14 regions are: Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Hawkes Bay/Gisborne, Taranaki, Manawatu/Wanganui, Wairarapa, Wellington/Kapiti/Horowhenua, Nelson/Tasman/Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury (including Chatham Islands), Otago, and Southland.

Three of the regions – Southland, Wairarapa and Northland, elected to proceed with independent tendering processes with the understanding that, provided government objectives for Project PROBE were met, funding from the PROBE project would be available to meet at least some of their costs. These three regions are working with Woosh Wireless, formerly WalkerWireless.

Will Counties Power be providing broadband across the entire Auckland Region? Counties Power will be focussed on the rural areas of the Auckland region to extend broadband coverage to the rural schools and communities that are the focus of Project PROBE. They are further committed to provide the service across the Auckland region wherever there is viable demand.

When will the announcement for Otago and the satellite region 15 be made? Project PROBE and Otago are working closely together to finalise the best solution for this region and an announcement is expected shortly. It has always been the intention to make the region 15 preferred supplier decision once all the other region’s preferred suppliers have been announced. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

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