The final cell site built under a nationwide project to connect rural areas of New Zealand to broadband has been completed today in Northland.

The Waipu cell site, the final built in the Rural Broadband Initiative, has been switched on.

The initiative began in 2011 as a partnership between the Government, Chorus and Vodafone and 154 new cell sites have been built in rural areas.

Communications Minister Amy Adams was in Waipu today to mark the completion of the build, along with Vodafone chief executive Russell Stanners.


Stanners said connectivity and access to high-speed broadband has become essential for Kiwis living and working in rural areas.

"Vodafone remains committed to extended coverage to rural New Zealand, and we will continue to invest in our network so all our customers gain access to the same benefits and opportunities as those living in urban areas".

Technology companies discussed the way their technology can help farmers who were connected to broadband.

Tauranga-based company GPS-it demonstrated their drone solutions which can be used to map farms and orchards, and record crop density from above.

GPS-it spokesperson Matt Flowerday said extended network coverage across rural New Zealand had been good for the business.

"We can take data captured by the drones and send it back to our office or direct to customers quickly from our truck, from some fairly remote places."

Blackhawk Tracking, a GPS monitoring system, said farmers could monitor farm vehicles with their technology.

Waipu businessman and former Warrior's captain Steve Price said the new cell site would have a positive impact on the local community.

"Waipu is a great town with a proud, industrious history and I'm looking forward to watching the local business people harness the power of rural broadband to innovate and grow their businesses," Price, who owns Waipu Four Square, said.

In addition to the 154 cell sites built under the Rural Broadband Initiative, a further 387 cell sites are on track to have their technology upgraded by early 2017, three months ahead of schedule.

In some places, wireless broadband is capable of delivering speeds in excess of 100Mbps, on par with fibre broadband speeds.