Vodafone has switched on its newly built cell site at Ngongotaha North, the first of four towers planned for the Rotorua district under the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative.

The 30m monopole tower provides mobile coverage and wireless broadband for the first time to more than 260 households in the area. It was turned on yesterday.

Three more towers are planned for the Rotorua district over the next three years, including Reporoa, Lake Okareka and Lake Rotoma, jointly providing mobile coverage and wireless broadband for more than 1200 homes and businesses.

Five more of Vodafone's existing eight sites in the area - Paeroa Range, Whakarewarewa, Mamaku, Okere Falls and Rainbow Mountain - will also be upgraded under the initiative.


Vodafone's local business development manager, Kevin Houlton, said there was no question that access to high-speed broadband made a major difference to rural New Zealanders' lives.

"This is a massive benefit for regional areas like Rotorua in dealing with emergencies, transport logistics, road safety and other real life circumstances previously hampered by limited coverage," Mr Houlton said.

"The faster, 21MB wireless broadband modem introduced earlier this year, allows customers to experience speeds in excess of some city dwellers, and provides a consistent and reliable service - far superior to dial-up speeds.

"Having high-speed broadband not only enables the use of farming technology and agri-innovation, but employment and study options for rural youth. It also gives farmers the opportunity to explore machine-to-machine technology, used for example to track fertiliser spreading, rainfall and frost temperatures, preventing waste and loss."

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