Faster internet is on the way for rural New Zealand after the Government outlined speed and coverage targets.

Communications and IT Minister Steven Joyce has promised minimum broadband speeds of between one and five megabits per second within six years for the one million people in rural areas.

These speeds are on a par with what is currently available in metropolitan areas and would enable users to watch video clips, stream music and podcasts and have VoIP conversations.

Within the six-year timeframe, 93 per cent of rural schools will get fibre networks delivering broadband at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, with the remaining 7 per cent getting speeds of more than 10 megabits per second.

He believed fibre running out to rural schools would flow through to improved broadband and mobile phone services to the wider rural community.

Telecommunications Users Association head Ernie Newman said the plan was a step in the right direction, but not ambitious enough.

"We want to see fibre to the vast majority of New Zealand farms and we believe it is achievable," said Newman.

"We see it as having the potential to transform farm management and operations and rebuild rural communities."

Newman said a "self-help" option could mean farmers getting out on their tractors to lay fibre to meet the main telecommunications networks.

While fibre optic networks are the technology of choice for schools, Joyce said wireless and cellular technologies would likely play a role in reaching the rural household speed targets.

Tony Baird of rural telecommunications provider Farmside said his company's satellite service could provide the required speeds in two years as well as a bridging technology until fibre was rolled out.

Joyce said no decision had been made on how much the Government would chip in to meet the $300 million the plan was expected to cost.

He said $48 million had been set aside in this year's Budget for rural broadband and more details where the shortfall would come from would be released in the next two weeks, with an update in its $1.5 billion urban-focused broadband upgrade.

SIX-YEAR PLAN
* One million rural New Zealanders to get broadband.
* 900 rural schools to get internet speeds of 100Mb per second.
* 75 small, remote rural schools to get 10Mb per second.
* $150 million budgeted to get all schools "broadband ready".
* 5Mb per second for 80 per cent of rural users, 1Mb per second for the rest.
* $300 million expected to be spent.