Connecting the Bay to the wider world

Column Articles
Thursday, March 12, 2015

Think back 14 years to 2001. The indestructible Nokia 3310 had taken the world by storm, we paid exorbitant rates for phone calls and internet data at home got capped at 400-600MB.

Today we have (rather destructible) smartphones, calling and texting costs have halved, and we depend on internet to run our businesses and even our lives.

Recently I met with two locals, from Omanawa, who don’t have access to a dial-up or broadband connection at their property. They’re restricted to using mobile modem sticks in order to use the internet. They, like a number of other Kiwis, are eager to be able to connect to the Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) programmes. Having fast, reliable internet available is a big part of modern living, so their desire to connect is understandable.

This week Communications Minister Amy Adams announced good news for rural New Zealanders like our Omanawa locals. The Government is investing $100 million into expanding the Rural Broadband Programme, and a further $152 – $210 million to lift UFB coverage from 75 per cent to 80 per cent of New Zealanders.

The decisive player in which area gets the funding will be the local councils and authorities who will bid for funding. I’ll be meeting with our local mayor and Western Bay of Plenty District Council in order to help put together the best case possible for getting areas such as the Kaimais, Lakes and rural Welcome Bay onto the grid.