Farmside response to Coronavirus

Farmside General Manager, Jason Sharp speaks out on Farmside’s COVID-19 Response.

Below is a transcript of his message:

As the General Manager of Farmside, I thought I would take the opportunity to provide you with a bit of insight and guidance.

I understand that some of our customers are feeling disgruntled at this time. I hear them asking, “why can’t we enjoy the freedom of unlimited broadband like our townie mates?” and saying “at this time more than ever we should be treated the same and not feel like the rural-urban divide is now greater than ever”.

All of which is absolutely valid and I cannot disagree with the sentiment. However, in my role as the General Manager of Farmside, let me provide you with some insight from the other side of the fence. From an Internet Service Provider looking out.

Like you, I’m also disgruntled. I’m disgruntled because we feel we’ve let our customers down. They are the backbone of our rural communities, and they deserve better. They deserve to know the reality, and I don’t think we have been good at conveying the limitations we are facing at this time which are impacting our customers.

Firstly, before I give you some insight, I want to set expectation upfront that there are no silver bullets.

The reality is this. The Vodafone RBI and mobile network was not designed for this once in a lifetime, unprecedented event. In comparison, our hospitals were not designed for a once in a generation pandemic like this either. The danger here, like our hospitals, is if we don’t implement restraint and strict measures, our networks will be overcome and therefore underperform.

Listening to our customers’ feedback, I understand that some of them may already be experiencing reduced performance on the RBI network. This is a result of unprecedented demand. This demand impacts the networks ability to perform. Imagine a motorway at rush hour, that is what we’re seeing on the network for extended periods throughout the day. There are just not enough motorway to cope with the traffic demand.

I’m explaining this to address our customers’ biggest gripe and that is why can’t they have unlimited data. If we were to open the data gates, it would be irresponsible as it could slow the network to a halt. We have a responsibility, not only to our Farmside customers but also to all the other RBI resellers using Vodafone’s RBI network. Farmside is owned by Vodafone, but there are a lot of us in the same boat. Vodafone’s network connects thousands of rural Kiwis, not just through Farmside and Vodafone, but also via other resellers up and down the country.

What are we doing to better support our customers?

Firstly, we are committed to supporting our customers. I can absolutely guarantee that. The Farmside leadership team meets every morning to discuss our customers’ feedback. We have staff members with families who live in rural communities, so we understand where our customers are coming from. We hear their feedback, and we understand their concerns. Our front line staff have been touched by customers stories, and they have shed a tear or two over the phone with them. Unfortunately, it’s just not viable to deliver some of the things our customers have been asking of us. We need to protect all our customers and ensure everyone is able to connect.

We are also working closely with the Vodafone network team and reviewing RBI network usage and capacity daily to ensure everyone on the network is able to connect and stay connected.

We are implementing solutions where we can offer more data while still protecting the network and protecting our customers’ user experience. This has been controversial for some of our customers but appreciated by most. For our RBI customers, this offer is unlimited data from midnight to 9am at no extra cost until the 30th of June 2020. We understand from some of the feedback that this isn’t when people need the data most. However, there are things that can be done during this period like downloading entertainment overnight so that during the day data can be used for the things that matter most at this time – enabling education, and the ability to work from home.

The reality is that we’re all in this together, and we all have a role to play – us as the ISP and our customers as the consumers. So, what can our customers do? What is their role at this time?

We urge users across the network to also be considerate and caring. They may not be working from home, or have school-aged children. Some of them may not be concerned about their data caps, but we urge them to still adhere to our data saving tips.

  • Take the effort to download entertainment during off-peak hours.
  • Turn off automatic updates on mobile phones.
  • Restrict iTunes and app store downloads.
  • Turn off automatic PlayStation and Xbox game updates.
  • Reduce definition to SD (standard definition).
  • Listen to downloaded music rather than streaming.

Together, if everyone takes these extra steps, we will all have a better experience, and we will ensure everyone is able to connect.

I’m proud to say that Farmside has been there for rural from the very beginning. We have invested in connecting people no matter where they live, work and play. We believe everyone should have the ability to connect. Rural connectivity is at the heart of everything we do, and we don’t leave anyone behind.

We are committed to our customers, and we value their loyalty. Like everyone, we wish we weren’t in this position, but if we all do our bit, then we will all have a better experience.

If you want to reach out to me with any questions, please feel free to email me

Jason Sharp
General Manager

Frequently Asked Questions

7 April 2020 Update

We understand that our customers may be impacted by COVID-19. To help our customers during this difficult time, we offer hardship relief. You can apply here.

31 March 2020 Update

For more helpful tips, tutorials and information on how you can manage your data, please visit: Helpful Tips and Information

27 March 2020 Update

What are you doing to help Kiwis during the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown?

We hope you and your family are well and staying safe in these uncertain times. The team at Farmside understands that it is really important for our customers to stay connected.

To support this, Vodafone NZ is offering Vodafone and Farmside customers on the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI/Rural Wireless) Service unlimited* data from midnight to 9.00am at no extra charge from 27 March until 30 June 2020.

*Speeds may vary. Farmside’s Fair Use Policy applies. Vodafone reserves the right to apply its Traffic Management Policy, to improve the overall performance and experience among our customers and to protect our network.

Why can’t Farmside offer me (RBI customer) unlimited data during the daytime?

The Vodafone Rural Broadband Network runs over a mobile network which is shared by many users in your area. Normally, these networks are capable of handling the usual household data requirements of all the customers you share your network with.

Farmside would love to offer unlimited data to our rural customers during the day – but the reality is, the rural network you use has a limited data capacity and is simply not built for the hugely increased demand we’re experiencing at the moment. If we lifted the caps, it could degrade the experience for existing users.

What is Farmside doing to help me?

We know that in these difficult times, you want to be able to keep in touch with family and friends, work from home, home school and keep your business running.

And from tonight until the end of June 2020, Vodafone NZ are offering unlimited* data to Farmside and Vodafone rural customers (on the RBI/rural wireless service) in the low-peak period from midnight to 9.00am. This will allow you to download Netflix or entertainment content at low-peak times ready for viewing the next day during high-peak.

Here are some tips for saving data:

  • From 12.00am-9.00am (during the low peak-time period) when unlimited data is available to our rural wireless customers, you can download Netflix and other entertainment content ready for viewing during the day (ie after 9.00am).
  • Download software upgrades during the free data period.
  • Keep an eye on your usage allowance. Check on your My Farmside portal daily.
  • Close down apps on your phone when it’s connected to the WiFi so they don’t keep using data in the background.
  • Turn off automatic software updates on your mobile phone.
  • Restrict iTunes and App Store downloads.
  • Review all electronic devices that are connected via WiFi or connected to your Rural Broadband device.
  • PlayStation and Xbox game updates consume a lot of data so turn off automatic updates.
  • Video content does too, so download overnight taking advantage of your new unlimited data times, then reduce the format to SD (standard definition). This includes YouTube, Netflix and Vodafone TV.
  • Listen to downloaded music rather than streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.
  • Change WiFi passwords to protect your usage.
  • Seek alternative entertainment channels such as SKY

We appreciate that these are challenging times and that connectivity is more important than ever right now. We hope these tips will help you to manage and prioritise your data.

What if I need more data?

If you need extra data, we have a special booster pack available to our RBI customers until further notice: 15GB for $20.

You can purchase the special data booster(s) by logging on to the My Farmside portal or calling our friendly team on 0800 32 76 74.

What if I need customer support?

Telecommunications have been identified as an essential service so our Customer Services team will continue to be available to support you. While all Farmside staff are now working from home, rest assured that we are committed to continuing to provide the best service to our customers. However, due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, our team is receiving an increased number of enquiries. Our usual speedy service and response may be slightly delayed because of this.

To serve your requirements the best way we can during this extraordinary time, below are various ways to contact Farmside:

We will endeavour to get back to all queries within 24 hours. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Are there tips you can give me to help troubleshoot issues with my broadband connection?

Internet not working
Reboot the modem by turning it off at the power for 10 seconds and then turning it back on. If this doesn’t fix it please give us a call

Modem not turning on
Try an alternative power plug and if it doesn’t work then please give us a call as you may need a replacement modem

Phone not working
Take everything out of the jack points and test each jackpoint one at a time – this will help us find if a jack point is faulty. It may also pay to try an alternative handset in case the handset is faulty. Check the handset if it is a multiple handset system to see that all phones are turned off – it may just be that the kids turned it on in the bedroom and forgot to hang up.

What are the available payment options?

With the office closure, we are temporarily not accepting cheque payments. Below are the other payment options for our customers:

Direct Debit
If you are set up on direct debit, this payment will come out of your account on the due date.

Credit Card
If you are set up on credit card payment, this payment will come out of your account on due date.

MyFarmside portal
Log in to the portal, go to ‘My Account’ then click on ‘Pay now’

Internet Banking/Direct Credit
You can pay your account via internet banking (direct credit).

Bank Account Details: Farmside
Bank: BNZ
Bank Account Number: 02-0888-0133948-000
Details: Enter your full name into the ‘particulars’ field. Enter your Farmside Account Number into the ‘reference’ field.

What happens if I find it difficult to pay my bill?

We understand that the COVID-19 may impact some customers’ ability to pay their bill on time. If you’re having difficulty paying, or you’re seeking specialised care due to these events, please email us at so we can understand your situation and discuss personalised payment options.

What happens if I need a new modem or have to return one?
All modems will be sent to our customers via courier post. Please do the same for returns:

Farmside Ltd
8 Butler St., Timaru 7910

24 March 2020 Update

Since the Government introduced the COVID-19 Alert System, our call centre has received an increased number of enquiries. This is to let you know that our usual speedy service and response will be slightly delayed.

To serve your requirements the best way we can during this extraordinary time, below are various ways to contact Farmside:

For Farmside customers

  • Urgent queries: please call us on 0800 32 76 74
  • Non-urgent queries: If your queries are not urgent and you need to get in touch, please send us a private message on the Farmside Facebook Page or email us on
  • If your query is about payment, please email us on

Sales enquiries

  • If you wish to connect to one of our broadband services and discuss your options, please call us on 0800 32 76 74 or email us on
  • If you would like to request a call back instead, please fill out the form here.

We will endeavour to get back to you within 24 hours. Thank you for your understanding and patience. Keep safe everyone!

18 March 2020 Update

Farmside is monitoring the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) closely and continues to prioritise the health and safety of our employees, customers and wider New Zealand following guidelines provided by our parent company, Vodafone NZ.

As of 18 March, there are twenty confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand – all linked to international travel – and no confirmed cases at Farmside nor Vodafone NZ.

We are following all NZ Ministry of Health guidelines and have been communicating regularly with our staff, contractors and suppliers regarding travel restrictions and precautionary measures. The policies that we have put in place for the protection of our staff include the following:

  • all business travel restricted until further notice
  • any staff that has returned from mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macau), Iran, Italy and South Korea prior to Friday 13 March is required to notify their line managers and self-isolate for 14 days
  • any staff that has returned from any international destination (with the exception of the Pacific Islands) from midnight Friday 13 March to self-isolate for 14 days
  • any staff that has been in close contact with a person confirmed with COVID-19 or in close contact with a person in self-isolation due to contact with COVID-19 (whether or not this person is displaying symptoms) within the past 14 days are required to notify their line manager and self-isolate for 14 days. Note that close contact is defined as:
  • living in the same household
  • having been within one meter of the person for a period of 15 minutes of more having spent two hours or longer in the same room or another closed space
  • all staff are required to take laptops and power cords home at the end of each day

We are closely monitoring device supply levels, maintaining good relationships with our vendors and suppliers, and working dynamically to mitigate any supply delays that emerge.

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