The Government has now determined it’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) partners as Telecom and Vodafone. This makes good use of the existing infrastructure. It will result in improvements in the Tararua for cell phone reception and internet. In particular, within four years fibre will reach Weber (from Dannevirke) and Pongaroa (from Eketahuna) Schools.
The RBI is $300m of grants with $250m funded from the telecommunication industry and $50m from Government. Essentially, it redirects $50 p.a. that the industry was collecting from income but not spending on the renewal of assets in the rural sector.
The contracts released spend $285m to connect over 500 schools and the health sector. However, it excludes areas already covered by Telecom cabinetisation programme.
In the Tararua this means Pahiatua, Woodville and Dannevirke are excluded, as are many rural towns in NZ.
We can expect that the upgrade of cabinets will improve the speeds of services sold over the copper network by three to four times currently provided. However, this is still 1/5th of the standard entry fibre speeds that larger towns and cities are to get within the next eight years. The minimum guarantee of speed/bandwidth (very slow) also will not change over the copper.
Approximately 400 schools are being considered for fibre connection using the unallocated $15m, but timing remains uncertain. In the meantime, Inspire Net, who already has over 400 schools as customers, has offered to connect seven of the eight town schools with a capital contribution. This will be achieved within four months providing a high level of guaranteed speeds and at very low ongoing monthly costs. These installations in some instances coincide with Council projects, such as the land transfer station in Dannevirke that passes by Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Tamaki Nui A Rua, it also stretches past Bush Multisport park and goes past the skate-park in Dannevirke.
This is exactly the type of competitive response Council set out to achieve when we completed our investment in Broadband. We have also reached the first date that our old wireless connections would have been upgraded. With our fibre in place, we have now avoided the need for a $250,000 project.
Inspire Net continue to sell new wireless connections across the Tararua to farms and homes, as well as fibre to businesses who are close enough to connect. They have done this without any marketing, by word of mouth.