Govt marks 350th tower in push for improved rural connectivity

  • Hon Dr David Clark

The Government has marked another milestone in its push for better rural connectivity, welcoming the delivery of Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) 350th tower.

Waikato’s Te Ākau, which sits roughly 50 kilometres out of Hamilton is home to the new tower.

“The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted the ever-increasing importance of connectivity. During the lockdowns, Kiwis were forced to re-think their approach to working, learning and socialising – by doing it all from our homes,” Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark said.

“RCG’s delivery of 350 towers is an amazing milestone in New Zealand’s connectivity journey and I know the community and businesses in Te Ākau will benefit greatly.

“Rural connectivity helps farmers to modernise and streamline the way they work by enabling the use of agritech, it also allows for local businesses to offer mobile Eftpos payment options, online services and ensures residents can reach emergency services.

“Having our rural communities in a position to participate fully in the digital economy, is a much-needed push in the right direction as we go about securing an economic recovery for the country.

“Government is working towards having 99.8% of the population connected to improved broadband by the end of next year, and that’s why we’re investing in programmes such as the Rural Broadband Initiative, Marae Digital Connectivity programme and the Mobile Blackspot Fund.

“To date, 1,000 kilometres of State Highway and 86 tourism spots now have mobile coverage, more than 560 marae have been connected to broadband, and over 72,000 rural homes and businesses now have access to improved broadband.

“To continue the improvements in rural connectivity across Aotearoa, in July this year I also announced how $60 million funding will make a difference for a number of remote and rural areas, through the creation of a new Remote Users Scheme designed to target our most hard to reach households. Taken together with the $47 million in works for Rural Capacity Upgrades I announced in February, investments made through these programmes will make a massive difference in rural New Zealand.

“The Government has also funded improved and more resilient rural connectivity to the West Coast, Chatham Islands, through Haast Pass and between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

“I look forward to seeing Aotearoa’s connectivity journey continue, as this Government remains committed to improving connectivity for New Zealanders,” David Clark said.

Note to Editor:

  • The Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) is a joint entity among New Zealand’s three Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees to acquire site locations, build, operate and maintain the rural wireless network built under the Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 (RBI2) and the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF).
  • RCG plays an important role to deploy connectivity infrastructure in rural New Zealand, partnering with Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP).
  • The new RCG sites are the result of an industry leading collaboration between the three mobile network operators and Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) to build over 500 cell sites across rural New Zealand delivering essential broadband and mobile services.
  • In addition to the RCG, CIP has contracted with 15 other partners to deliver rural broadband coverage under the RBI2. These partners are all wireless internet service providers (WISPs), who provide rural broadband to remote and rural areas.

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