Having access to quality internet is a vital part of modern life. It makes our personal lives more efficient and convenient, gives New Zealand businesses immediate access to global audiences, and provides better learning opportunities for our children.
The Government's first Rural Broadband Initiative programme is complete, benefitting 300,000 homes and businesses. Nineteen towns or cities now have a fully complete Ultra-Fast Broadband build and 2.4 million Kiwis are able to connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband.
Bay of Plenty now has 9369 broadband connections, compared to 6410 before the RBI programme started. The average internet speed has increased by over 120 per cent across the region. Under the RBI programme, Vodafone has built or upgraded 26 towers, and Chorus has upgraded 113 lines in the area.
The Government has invested $300 million into RBI, enabling 300,000 rural households and businesses throughout New Zealand to access improved connectivity. RBI is being rolled out in conjunction with the Ultra-Fast Broadband programme, which is bringing better, faster broadband in towns like Tauranga.
These are some of the biggest infrastructure projects undertaken in New Zealand, and they are already bringing huge social, economic and community benefits to New Zealanders.
All schools and hospitals in New Zealand are now able to connect to high-speed broadband. This gives teachers and hospital staff across the country access to vital information and services, and revolutionises students' learning experiences with digital resources.
New Zealanders realise the benefits of the Government's investment in high-speed broadband. More than 830 new households and businesses connect to fibre every working day - that's more than one every minute. Together, these ground-breaking projects will bring improved internet to 97.8 per cent of New Zealanders by 2019.
Not only are a growing number of New Zealanders connecting, the speeds people are enjoying are also constantly increasing.
This places New Zealand in a great position to drive forward into the digital economy as businesses are given a competitive edge and become more efficient.
Local organisations are also reaping the benefits, and are finding it easier to connect with their communities and organise local events.
It's great to see how improved connectivity is transforming our way of life for the better, and I look forward to seeing the Government's broadband programmes continue to deliver great benefits to New Zealanders.