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More than 300,000 to benefit as first phase of RBI completed

09 Aug 2016

More than 300,000 homes and businesses across the country can benefit from improved broadband, with the first phase of the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative has coming to an end.

Communications Minister Amy Adams announced the completion of phase one this week.

“Under the programme, rural communities around New Zealand have significantly improved broadband, thanks to the Government’s $300 million investment into RBI,” she says.

“We’ve seen a considerable improvement in access, reliability and speeds across New Zealand.”

Adams says prior to the RBI build, only 20% of rural lines were capable of speeds around 5Mbps. RBI phase one increases this to 90% of rural New Zealand households and businesses, and, according to Adams, speeds are 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,” she says.

Adams says prior to the project, only 30 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,” Adams explains.

“RBI has delivered enormous gains for our remote and rural communities, and I encourage New Zealanders to get on board,” she adds.

Under the RBI, Vodafone has completed all 154 new towers built to deliver rural broadband. A further 355 tower upgrades are now complete, with just 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, 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 Adams.

Adams says 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,” Adams adds.

Adams has released a completion report for phase one of the RBI, which can be found here.

New Zealanders can head to www.broadbandmap.nz to check their connectivity availability.

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