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Enhancing the Rural Connectivity in New Zealand

Recognising the importance of providing equal access to technology in every corner of New Zealand, the Commerce Commission is dedicated to achieving technological equity. To delve deeper into this matter, they have undertaken the initiative of launching the Rural Connectivity Study. This study’s objective is to comprehensively examine the rural telecommunications market, offering a complex and detailed portrayal of its landscape.

By conducting this study, the Commerce Commission is looking to gain more valuable insights into the current state of rural connectivity, enabling them to identify any gaps or discrepancies that hinder technological inclusivity. Through this advanced innovation, they aim to bridge the digital divide and ensure that all individuals, regardless of their geographic location, have equitable access to the benefits and opportunities offered by modern technology.

After effectively implementing fibre optic connectivity to 87% of the population, Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson emphasises that the Study marks the initial phase of a comprehensive investigation into the status of connectivity in rural regions and its implications for the remaining population in New Zealand.

The Rural Connectivity Study has been initiated to gather comprehensive data on the technological options available in areas without fibre coverage. The Study aims to map out the availability of these technologies and identify the providers offering them. By examining and documenting the characteristics of these alternative connectivity options, the Study seeks to gain insights into their pricing structures, performance capabilities, and overall user experience.

Additionally, the Study focuses on capturing the perspectives and experiences of consumers who rely on these technologies, providing valuable insights into their satisfaction levels, challenges faced, and areas for potential improvement. The findings of this Study will contribute to informing policy decisions, driving advancements in connectivity infrastructure, and addressing the digital divide in rural communities.

Mr Gilbertson emphasises the significance of establishing a comprehensive and detailed understanding of rural connectivity across New Zealand. To accomplish this, the Commission will actively engage with various stakeholders, fostering direct collaboration and dialogue. These stakeholders encompass network operators, service providers, end-users, advocacy groups, and government departments.

By actively involving network operators and service providers, the Commission aims to gain insights into rural connectivity solutions’ technical aspects and operational dynamics. This engagement will shed light on the range of technologies and infrastructure deployed, their coverage areas, and the services they offer to rural communities.

Moreover, engaging with end-users is crucial to capturing their firsthand experiences and perspectives. By directly interacting with individuals and organisations relying on rural connectivity, the Commission can gather valuable feedback on existing services’ effectiveness, reliability, and affordability. This qualitative data will provide a nuanced understanding of the challenges faced by rural communities and identify areas for potential improvement.

By engaging with this diverse range of stakeholders, the Commission aims to compile a comprehensive and holistic picture of rural connectivity in New Zealand. This collaborative approach ensures that the Study considers the various perspectives, challenges, and aspirations of all involved parties, ultimately leading to well-informed recommendations and actions that address the unique needs of rural communities.

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