New Zealand commits to universal broadband coverage
26 May 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
The New Zealand government has promised that 99% of the population will get ultra-fast broadband by 2025 – an increase on the current target of 84% – and the other 1% will still get 10Mbps.
Communications minister Simon Bridges told a conference on rural connectivity this week that 99% of the country’s population – currently 4.6 million – will get 50Mbps or better by the target date.
“Rural connectivity is a core part of the government’s plan to support our regional economies and our target reflects this – it’s about ensuring that all New Zealanders can take advantage of the benefits of improved connectivity,” Bridges told the Rural Connectivity Conference in Wellington, the capital city.
“In 2009 the internet in New Zealand was slow, and many people didn’t have adequate access at all – particularly in rural areas,” he said. “We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Over 1.1 million households and businesses can now connect to ultra-fast broadband (UFB), and over one-third of those are already connected.”
Bridges also outlined plans to ensure mobile black spots are filled in, especially along major roads and in tourism locations.
He did not reveal details of the government’s budget to boost connectivity beyond the NZ$300 million (US $211 million) that is being provided to extend current UFB coverage at the edge of urban areas. A state corporation, Crown Fibre Holdings, is responsible for backing the rural broadband programme.
Crown Fibre’s is running the UFB extension project, called UFB2, which currently aims for just 84% coverage by 2025 – compared with 80% coverage by 2021 for the UFB1 programme.
Chorus, the now independent company that was the last-mile arm of Telecom New Zealand, now Spark, and three other companies have contracts to build the current UFB extension.