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Vodafone's Farmside: Rural internet connections triple

Farmside has seen a 300% rise in new customers in the days following 1 June, as rural New Zealanders prioritised internet connectivity during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The rural broadband provider says the increase follows a spike of Kiwis getting connected during the COVID-19 crisis, when Farmside hit a record 15,000 customers with the majority connected to rural wireless broadband via the Rural Broadband Initiative, as well as fibre or satellite connections.

“Surpassing 15,000 customers cements our position as New Zealand’s leading rural broadband provider. This is a testament to our awesome Timaru-based team and our dedication to serving rural New Zealanders country-wide," says Jason Sharp, general manager of Farmside.

 “We have been helping customers navigate the added strict COVID-19 related controls around Moving Day and during alert levels 3 and 4. Across the board we are seeing increased numbers of New Zealanders looking to digital services for remote working, learning and entertainment," he says.

“While I am proud of what we’ve been able to achieve, such as providing free unlimited data overnight for RBI customers and uncapped satellite access, there’s a long way to go to bridge the rural-urban divide as it is incredibly important to us that country families have reliable access to the internet," adds Sharp.

"We hope to do that via ongoing investment and collaboration with rural communities and government stakeholders.”

This follows an increase in RBI data usage of 74%, and satellite data up 35%, for Farmside rural customers during COVID-19 alert levels 3 and 4.

During level four lockdown, the rural broadband provider was able to continue connecting Kiwis remotely as well as prioritise essential work for those who required a physical installation.

“I am proud that we are supporting our rural communities to stay connected - including awesome New Zealanders like Tangaroa Walker and we were able to connect him during lockdown," says Sharp.

"Enabling Tangaroa to enrich the lives of his community remotely shows how important the internet and digital services are for the country.”

"We believe rural New Zealanders should have access to reliable connectivity no matter where they live, work and play."

Based out of Timaru, Farmside is owned by Vodafone New Zealand. Vodafone New Zealand acquired 70% of Farmside for $10 million in cash, closing the deal in May 2017. The telecommunications giant bought the remaining 30% stake in Farmside from telecommunication services provider TeamTalk for $3 million in May 2018.