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Watch NZH Local Focus: Internet speeds an election issue in Morrinsville

By Hunter Calder

It's a connection many Morrinsville businesses rely on daily. But currently - many regional centres don't have access to ultra-fast broadband.

And businesses in the Matamata-Piako District are going to have to wait for at least another four years to be part of the second phase of the government's roll-out.

Frustrated business people in Matamata say it's their number one election issue.

Morrinsville Chamber of Commerce Chairman Nigel McWilliam says it's a "game changer" and says he's likely to vote for somebody who would give the town UFB "within the next three years".

Mr McWilliam says the current wait time is "a whole life cycle of a small to medium business" in some cases.

"I think that's a major election risk for the National Party to have the whole Matamata-Piako district not having UFB within a full term of government," he says.

LJ Hooker's office Manager, Lesley Manuel says the promised fibre should be connected sooner.

The Morrinsville branch currently uses VDSL, but Mrs Manuel says with more of their services moving to online platforms, having fibre connected to the town will be crucial for daily operations.

"If we don't have listings on the internet, we're not going to sell them."

Piako Group's Chief Financial Officer, Jacqui Gray, says people are "hot under the collar about the fibre" issue.

She says the government's announcement of a four to five year wait has given Piako Group some direction on whether to wait or go with the costly option of paying for their own fibre connection.

"Chorus have been in and had a measure up and with any luck we will have that pricing then we will make a decision on what we are going to do."

Nigel McWilliam says he can't understand how some towns are being prioritised over others.

"We're seeing that Coromandel has got broadband before Morrinsville yet I can't see how that's physically possible considering that we're only 15 minutes from Hamilton compared to where Coromandel sits on the scope of things."

He believes regional development is crucial for any developing economy.

In a written statement Crown Fibre Holdings, which is managing the UFB roll out, says the order towns get connected is driven by the need for a new network and the availability of contractors.

It says "apart from the acceleration of some towns prioritised for Regional Economic Development and potentially to enable rapid earthquake recovery, the timing and order of the roll out is based on partner work flow scheduling."

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