Crown Infrastructure Partners
|12 Mar 2021||
60 new or upgraded mobile towers completed across rural New Zealand in last quarter
In the quarter ending December 2020, 39 new mobile towers and 21 upgraded mobile towers were completed providing broadband coverage across rural Aotearoa.
The December 2020 Broadband Quarterly Connectivity Update released today by Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) reports on this significant progress under both the Rural Broadband Initiative phase two/Mobile Black Spots Fund (RBI2/MBSF) programme and the capacity upgrades programme for mobile towers deployed under the first Rural Broadband Initiative that have become congested.
“It is fantastic to see that the programme has already provided improved rural broadband services to households served by the 21 upgraded mobile towers, including rural areas around towns such as Tirau in Waikato, and Kaitaia in the Far North”, said Graham Mitchell, CEO of CIP.
“At the time these mobile towers were built, the current level of demand for broadband and growth in the number of households in some rural areas was not anticipated. With more people working and learning from home and general population growth, the demand on the capacity of these towers has increased, and it’s fantastic to be able to upgrade these mobile towers and provide service to rural households who have been missing out”. The Government approved CIP funding these mobile tower capacity upgrades as part of the response to connectivity issues experienced during last year’s COVID-19 level 4 lockdown.
39 new mobile towers have also been commissioned under the RBI2/MBSF programme in the quarter, making better broadband available to 4,405 rural homes and businesses. In addition, CIP’s wireless ISP (WISP) partners have made improved broadband available to 577 rural homes and businesses under RBI2 during the quarter.
There are also six new tourism sites with mobile coverage, including Pongaroa in the Tararua District and Glinks Gully and Northland as well as 77 additional kilometres of State Highway now have mobile coverage, making it easier and faster for first responders to attend incidents in these often remote areas. This brings the total kilometres covered under MBSF to 788km.
When work on RBI2 and MBSF is completed by 2023, and combined with completion of the UFB roll-out and existing broadband networks, New Zealand will have broadband coverage to 99.8 per cent of the population.
The December quarter also saw 85 kilometres of fibre deployed on the State Highway 6 fibre link on the West Coast. The Fox Glacier to Lake Hawea fibre link will create connectivity resilience in the South Island, by providing an alternative route to existing networks and provide fibre connectivity to the 19 of mobile towers being built along State Highway 6. It will also mean the Haast township will get access to Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB).
Under the UFB programme, CIP’s partner Northpower Fibre completed its UFB expansion build in this quarter. This is a great achievement and was five months ahead of schedule. 9,710 households and businesses in 11 towns in Whāngārei and Kaipara Districts are now able to connect to UFB broadband services.
UFB connections have continued to increase, with 33,800 new connections to the UFB network in the quarter. “Uptake is now at 63% across the country. With the programme 94% complete, there are 248 towns and cities that now have UFB available”, said Mr Mitchell.
The average speed of UFB services is now 245 Mbps, and close to 12,500 new gigabit connections were taken up this quarter. Mitchell said, “There are now almost 174,000 gigabit connections. People want the fastest connection they can get, and with multiple people per household seeking to connect to work and learn, this is increasingly the choice of connection for families as fibre is the only broadband solution that can provide the assured highest speeds”.
Marae connectivity has continued at pace with 374 marae across Aotearoa now connected to broadband. In the December quarter, under the Marae Digital Connectivity programme, an additional 97 marae connected to broadband and 122 new marae had digital equipment installed. “The digital equipment installed allows for video conferencing for virtual hui, and marae are provided with the technical support they need to utilise these services”, said Mr Mitchell. “Enhancing their digital capabilities and supporting whanau and hapū to undertake economic activity are key goals of the programme, and we are pleased with this uptake of connections”.
The Quarterly Connectivity Report is released by CIP and can be found at: www.crowninfrastructure.govt.nz/quarterly
The report provides information on the progress of:
NOTE TO EDITORS
More information can be found at CIP’s website: www.crowninfrastructure.govt.nz