Rural focus in presentations

By Laurel Stowell

Rural residents can find out more about the internet at a free technology expo in Wanganui on Saturday.

Rural broadband is the hot12 topic at TechEx in the War Memorial Centre, with presentations from an advocate on behalf of consumers and then Federated Farmers' Wanganui president Brian Doughty.

At 10.30am, there's a speaker from Chorus, the company building Wanganui's rural broadband network as part of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) funded by the Government. Those attending will find out whether they can connect to fibre going past their farm.

The RBI's area of coverage is outside main centres and, for the Chronicle region, mainly comprises a strip of flatter country along the coast that extends up SH1 and past Marton in the Rangitikei. The sparsely populated hilly hinterland is excluded.

Those hills are where Palmerston North-based company InSPire Net has made huge inroads, and it is still hooking people up to wireless broadband, with seven new repeaters being put up in the next month.

"We cover truckloads of it, but there are still places tucked away in little valleys," a spokesman said.

The InSPire Net team has been working on the Parikino/Parihauhau area, and is investigating how to get coverage for a handful of households between Durie Hill and Fordell.

The InSPire story will likely continue after a lunch break, with Antony Royal probably talking about how four towers erected in a partnership with the Atihau Whanganui Incorporation can provide internet access to the wider area, as well as remote incorporation stations.

After that, the talks move to wider spectrum matters, including the upcoming auctioning of the 700MHz band - especially good for rural coverage because it works better through trees - to the highest bidder.

Another possibility for providing rural coverage is Whitespace, a system that uses gaps anywhere in the spectrum as they occur. The day ends with a half-hour panel discussion.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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