Nearly 1.4 million New Zealand households and businesses can now connect to some of the best broadband technology available, thanks to the ultra-fast broadband (UFB) programme of the NZ Government.
According to a recent report, the UFB typically delivers speeds of close to 1,000 Megabits per second, which means quicker uploading and downloading speeds. Plus, it provides a more reliable connection.
This increased capacity and speed is especially useful at work, school or at home when there are multiple people online at the same time.
When the Government’s UFB programme is fully complete, New Zealand is expected to be in the top five OECD countries for digital connectivity.
But more importantly, it is helping close the rural and urban divide so that people in smaller centres like Greymouth, Tokoroa and Pukekohe have access to the same top-class broadband technology available in the big cities, at the same prices.
By the end of 2022, UFB will be available to 87% of the population, and in more than 390 towns and cities across the country.
Based on the latest progress report, 1,399,236 households and businesses have access, and 668,850 or 47.8% have already connected.
The latest quarter from June to September saw a surge of people connecting to UFB.
More than 63,000 new connections were made during this period, compared to 55,513 in the previous quarter, boosting overall uptake by 3.7%.
To date, Dunedin has shown the biggest demand for UFB, with 57.1% of all businesses and households choosing to connect.
Waiuku, Rotorua, Tauranga and Hamilton each have uptake rates of more than 55%.
Infrastructure for the UFB programme began rolling out in 2011, and is more than 76.3% complete.
Aside from ultra-fast broadband programme, phase two of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) is underway to improve access to fast broadband in the regions.
Work on the Mobile Black Spots Fund (MBSF) is also progressing, to improve the availability of mobile services to support safety on state highways and enhance visitor experiences at key tourist destinations which do not currently have coverage from any mobile operator.
Moreover, the Government is investing NZ$ 44.8 million from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to improve digital connectivity in the West Coast and Southland, according to a recent report.
The investment will extend and improve internet access and mobile coverage across the entire area, including developing broadband infrastructure in and around Haast and Milford Sound.
West Coast and Southland, like most regions, identify investment in digital infrastructure as crucial for strong economic growth and meeting that need is an aim of the PGF.
These two regions cover a lot of land which is a long way from the cities and the wider world.
While locals take pride in that remoteness, connecting with customers, friends and family is still essential for thriving business and communities.
Access to better digital services is a big part of ensuring sustainable employment and better paying jobs and that connectivity helps retain families in rural areas.
The Government recognises that modern economies need reliable and extensive communication networks to thrive and is committed to improving digital connectivity across regional New Zealand.
The PGF funding will be transferred to Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) which will contract providers for the project work.