$40M boost to NZ Rural Broadband and Mobile Blackspot programmes

The Government will use $40 million from its $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund to improve connectivity in regional New Zealand by boosting the $105m already allocated to phase 2 of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) and the Mobile Blackspots Fund (MBF).

The $40m will be used to improve digital connectivity across the six 'surge regions' identified in the fund's announcement as those needing early investment: Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tair?whiti, Hawke’s Bay, Manawat?-Whanganui and the West Coast.

Funded projects will be implemented by Crown agency Crown Infrastructure Partners, which is already managing the RBI2/MBSF programme and its expansion.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the investment would support other investments the Government is making through the Provincial Growth Fund by helping to lift productivity and to create new opportunities.

"Crown Infrastructure Partners expects that the additional Provincial Growth Fund investment will for example make enhanced broadband available to nearly every rural marae, home and business in Manawat? –Whanganu," he said.

"The Manawat?-Whanganui Economic Action Plan identifies digital connectivity as a key enabler for the region’s vision to increase job opportunities and quality of life."

The Government said other projects to be funded under the plan would be "announced in due course."

The Government announced in March that the schedule for RBI2 and MBF had been brought forward for completion in 2021 instead of 2022. RABI2 will deliver broadband to regions having the lowest rates of access, and the MBF will provide mobile coverage to around 1,000 kilometres of state highway and in over 100 tourism locations.


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