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The government’s commitment of $75 million for rural projects aimed at extending the reach of broadband is great news for people living in remote areas of New Zealand, Rural Affairs Minister Damien O’Connor said today.
The funding is part of the government’s wider contestable Broadband Investment Fund of $340 million. Communications and Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe announced that applications for the funding opened today.
$75 million over five years has been set aside to extend the reach of broadband into remote rural areas that do not currently have broadband capability.
“The inability to use the full potential of broadband frustrates many who live in rural areas, especially those engaged in farming and other rural businesses.
“Internet banking and electronic filing of IRD returns are two examples of activities that have the potential to greatly reduce time and costs, if available.
“The focus of the Rural Fund being on the deployment of new and improved broadband connections to communities, businesses and users in the health, education and wider government sectors in rural areas is an example of the Labour-led government’s commitment to the rural sector,” said Mr O’Connor.
Project assessment and approval will focus on funding viable projects that can deliver user benefit at reasonable cost. For this reason, the eligibility and assessment criteria provide incentives for rural communities to work with service providers to develop realistic proposals that can deliver quality broadband service capability at affordable prices.
“The flexibility inherent in the contestable, ‘seed-funding’ approach will greatly speed up the development of broadband infrastructure in rural areas and encourage industry cooperation in sharing that infrastructure, and provide for future network capability expansions,” said Mr O’Connor.