UFB ahead of plan, says Curran

The Government has released its latest quarterly broadband update saying it shows delivery of ultra-fast broadband services to be ahead of plan with the service how available to 1.25 million households and businesses.

The Government’s target is to have the service available to 87 percent of New Zealanders by the end of 2022.

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran said 40 percent of premises to which the service is now available had taken it up, and that the number of connections had grown 10 percent in Q4 of 2017.

The update also reported on progress in the Rural Broadband Initiative saying deployment was now complete with 154 new towers built for wireless infrastructure and 387 existing towers upgraded. This however was rather old news: the previous government announced this achievement in August 2016!

RBI uptake stood at 40.3 percent at the end of December, “Over 110,000 copper lines have been upgraded [and] 304,574 users are able to connect. 122,805 users are connected,” the report said.

Curran said RBI2 was now underway with the goal being to deliver new or improved broadband to 70,000 additional rural households and businesses. “More than a thousand kilometres of state highways and in excess of a hundred tourism locations will receive new mobile coverage,” she said. According to the update, detailed build scheduling is now underway.

Curran re-iterated the Government’s goal; “To close the digital divides by 2020, and to make ICT the second biggest exporting sector by 2025.”

Crown Infrastructure Partners manages UFB and is managing the contractual arrangements for the RBI2 and Mobile Black Spot Fund programmes, and has entered into contracts with the Rural Connectivity Group (Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees) and with a number of wireless internet service providers to deliver rural programmes.

Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees submitted a proposal in April 2017 to make a capital contribution of $75m to establish the infrastructure and contribute spectrum, ongoing operating expenditure and other resources that would in total “more than match the Government's own contribution of $150m, via the Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL) and deploy approximately 500 new cell sites to increase the coverage area of cellular networks by 25 percent.”

The government announced award of a contract to the group on 30 August 2017.


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