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$270m investment to provide high-speed broadband access to 99 per cent of New Zealanders

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Bethells Beach, New Zealand

New Zealand’s National Government has pledged $270m further investment to fast-track the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband.

According to Communications Minister, Simon Bridges, this should bring completion of the Ultra-fast Broadband (UFB) project forward by two-years and reach 190 more small towns with this investment. In addition, it will enable an extension of rural broadband to another 74,000 homes and businesses. He said: ‘By the end of 2022, our ultra-fast broadband programme will provide more than four million New Zealanders with access to world-class internet.’

Of the investment, $130m is earmarked to extend ultra-fast broadband to an additional 60,000 homes and businesses in 190 new towns. The other $140m will extend rural coverage of high-speed broadband under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) to another 74,000 rural households and businesses, and to deliver mobile coverage on 1000 kilometres of rural highways and more than 100 tourist areas through the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF).

The investment will be funded by $240m of recycled capital from earlier stages of the UFB programme and $30m from the Telecommunications Development Levy. The RBI and MBSF programmes will be delivered via the construction of more than 450 new towers, in addition to the 150 already built.

Bridges continued: ‘We started UFB in 2010 with the original goal of connecting 34 towns to world-class fibre-to-the-premises. Earlier this year we expanded it to 200 more towns and today’s announcement will bring us to 390.’

The first phase of the RBI was completed in June 2016, and provided improved broadband to more than 300,000 rural homes and businesses. The new funding announcement is in addition to the $150 million already allocated for rural broadband and mobile coverage. The MBSF is designed to help improve public safety and visitor experiences by providing greater mobile coverage on stretches of State Highway, as well as in tourism locations where no coverage currently exists. Bridges highlighted: ‘Better connectivity in these remote areas will enhance visitor experiences at some of the country’s tourist hotspots, such as Milford Sound, Cape Reinga and Bethells Beach.

‘Once complete,’ concluded Bridges, ‘New Zealand will be in the top five countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for access to high-speed broadband. By 2022, 87 per cent of New Zealanders will have access to UFB and 99 per cent will have access to high speed internet.’

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