Communications and IT Minister Steven Joyce says getting fast broadband to the 25% of us who live outside cities is a priority and has set targets for the roll out of rural broadband.
Within six years he expects:
* 93% of rural schools to receive fibre, enabling speeds of at least 100Mbps, with the remaining 7% to achieve speeds of at least 10Mbps.
* more than 80% of rural households to have access to broadband with speeds of at least 5Mbps, with the remainder to achieve speeds of at least 1Mbps.
Those numbers mean little to me but I understand enough to know it will be an improvement on what we’ve got now. We have wireless broadband which is better than dial up but not nearly as good as we get with WiFi here and overseas.
The internet is an integral part of our business. We get killing sheets from the freezing works and reports from our managers by email; check milk quality and quantity on-line each day; pay wages and most bills and receive most invoices electronically.
Increasing the speed of our connection will save time and reduce frustration in our business leaving time and energy to devote to more productive activities than waiting for downloads.
Providing fibre to the vast majority of rural schools will effectively deliver the capacity to provide faster broadband to the communities they serve. Fibre backhaul is currently the primary limiting factor in the delivery of rural broadband and getting fibre to schools will address that.”
Getting fibre backhaul into rural communities will also allow other technologies such as wireless and cellular to play a larger role in rural New Zealand.
Enabling rural cell phone towers to be connected to fibre will also improve mobile phone services in rural areas.
That will be a much needed bonus which will make doing business easier and also increase safety.
Our staff carry mobiles but reception is variable which is frustrating for those wanting to make calls and people wanting to call them.
Better cell phone coverage will improve communication and also make it easier to locate people and summon help in an emergency.
Improving internet and mobile phone connections will not just benefit existing rural businesses, being able to communicate faster and more reliably with the rest of the world will also provide opportunities for new ones.