The first phase of the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is now complete, benefiting 300,000 homes and businesses, says Communications Minister Amy Adams.
"Under the programme, rural communities around New Zealand have significantly improved broadband, thanks to the Government's $300 million investment into RBI. We've seen a considerable improvement in access, reliability and speeds across New Zealand," says Ms Adams.
"Prior to our RBI build, only 20 per cent of rural lines were capable of speeds around 5Mbps. RBI phase one increases this to 90 per cent of rural New Zealand households and businesses, and speeds are in fact well in excess of 5Mbps.
"Before the project, our rural communities were grappling with poor speeds, little better than dial up - but are now enjoying speeds around 100 times faster.
"Prior to the project, 30 of our rural schools had fibre - now 1034 do."
All New Zealand state and state-integrated schools are able to connect under RBI or UFB, or the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative. Around 39 rural hospitals and integrated family centres are able to access peak speeds of 100Mbps under the RBI.
"Connectivity is a necessity. It's an essential part of New Zealand's growing economic and social infrastructure, and even more integral for our rural communities. RBI has delivered enormous gains for our remote and rural communities, and I encourage New Zealanders to get on board."
Under the RBI, Vodafone has completed all 154 new towers built to deliver rural broadband. A further 355 tower upgrades are now complete, with 32 left to be upgraded.
Alongside this, Chorus has upgraded 1242 cabinets which means over 110,000 rural lines can now access faster fixed broadband, well exceeding the original target of 103,000 rural lines.
"New towers have extended nationwide coverage by 6200 square kilometres, to cover a total 125,700 square kilometres of rural New Zealand," says Ms Adams.
"Around 300,000 rural households and businesses will be able to access either a fixed-wireless or fixed-line service once these final upgrades are complete.
"In the last three months, 1.6 million individual mobile devices have accessed services from the new towers.
"Our objective for the RBI 1 build was to deliver faster broadband to rural priority users and communities, and this programme has done just that."
Ms Adams has released a completion report for phase one of the RBI.
- New Zealanders should head to www.broadbandmap.nz to check their connectivity availability.