The NZ Government is committing $47 million from the COVID Response and Relief fund to improve broadband for rural homes and businesses that are facing congestion challenges as demand for fast internet has significantly increased in recent years due to the pandemic.
The Rural Capacity Upgrade will see upgraded and new cell towers, additional fibre, VDSL and other wireless technology in areas of high congestion, according to a statement from the office of the Minister of Digital Economy and Communications.
“By the end of 2024 around 47,000 rural households and businesses should experience faster internet speeds and better reception than they do right now,” Minister David Clark said.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us reliable internet is critical to being able to work, learn and socialise from our homes. Having been through lockdowns, it’s clear some rural networks had real trouble adapting to the extra usage.”
13 private sector contractors have signed contracts with Crown Infrastructure Partners to carry out the work.
“Government’s actions to protect lives and livelihoods throughout this pandemic has proven to be the best economic decision. However, today’s announcement will further help us secure our economic recovery,” Clarke said.
“With these upgrades, rural businesses will have the tools to be more innovative and productive. We can also improve health and safety for New Zealanders and their families through remote health consultations, facilitate remote learning and help maintain social and family connections.
“For those businesses, farms, marae, and households that aren’t captured by current rural broadband initiatives, such as the Ultra-Fast Broadband programme, the initiative launched today will be of great benefit.”
At the completion of all current connectivity initiatives in 2024, 99.8 percent of New Zealanders will have seen an improvement to their broadband services, the statement said.