After being missed in the recent roll-out of the Mobile Black Spot Fund programme, residents in Waitahuna are calling for improvements.

In August 2017, a $270million communications infrastructure package to further extend the Ultra-Fast Broadband, Rural Broadband Initiative, and Mobile Black Spot Fund programmes was announced.

The Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF) is providing greater mobile coverage on about 1000km of state highway and in more than 100 tourism locations where there is none at present.

However, a recent update has shown a stretch of road on State Highway 8 through the Waitahuna Valley has not been flagged as a priority for the next few years.


As a result, Waitahuna, near Lawrence, will still be predominantly without reception.

Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Board chairman Garry McCorkindale has lived in the area all his life and said while cellphone reception had improved, it was not good enough.

''Good communications is something many places in New Zealand take for granted ... even small rural towns need it.''

He had installed a booster in his house which allowed him to get reception at home but not everyone should have to do that.

Waitahuna Fire Brigade volunteer Daniel Wark said they attended about 30 crashes on the stretch of road in a year.

He said when a report of a crash came in, emergency services had a system which allowed them to triangulate on where the crash happened, but without cellphone reception this was useless.

''Currently, we get called out and it could be 10km from where the accident happened.

''If people can ring 111 and we can know where they are straight away, there's a better turnout for everyone.''


Mr McCorkindale said the board had submitted a request for the area to be reviewed.

He said with plans to extend the Clutha Gold Trail there would be even more visitors in the area, increasing the need for quality reception.

Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) is managing the contractual arrangements for the MBSF.

CFH general manager of government and industry affairs Nick Manning said two MBSF components focused on state highways and tourist areas.

The programme started in September and it is expected to be finished by 2021.

Mr Manning said MBSF does not go where there is existing coverage from at least one operator, due to limited funding.

''The MBSF policy is to provide new MBSF State Highway coverage where there is no existing coverage from any operator.''

He said as this section had 3G Vodafone coverage, it was not in scope for MBSF.

The new coverage for Raes Junction was scheduled to be deployed during Calendar Year 2019.