Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees today announced that new rural broadband and mobile services are now live into twenty rural locations across New Zealand.
The new sites are the result of an industry leading collaboration between the three mobile network operators and Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) to build essential broadband and mobile services for rural New Zealand. CIP contracted the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) which was established to provide connectivity to rural New Zealand. The RCG is a joint venture between Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees, to build, operate and maintain this essential rural network infrastructure. Services are now available over the RCG network to customers of Spark, Vodafone or 2degrees.
The twenty new sites, the first of more than 500 new sites, range from the Far North all the way down to Southland. The new sites will provide high speed wireless broadband and quality mobile coverage to around 1,600 rural homes and businesses, across 70 kms of state high way and to 13 tourist sites. Depending on the customer’s provider and their current mobile phone, some customers may need to get software updates to their phone or upgrade their phone.
Spark CEO Jolie Hodson said,“It’s exciting to see fast broadband and world class mobile infrastructure rolling out into rural areas around New Zealand. The connectivity is much needed to bridge the digital divide for rural communities and help the rural sector remain competitive. Bringing together the investment from Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees along with the Government’s RBI2 funding has been the key to providing service into more challenging and remote areas of New Zealand.”
Vodafone CEO Jason Paris said “Keeping Kiwis connected is a top priority for Vodafone, and we’re thrilled to be working alongside Spark, 2degrees and the Government to bring connectivity to rural New Zealand, which is the powerhouse of our economy. For this sector to remain competitive they need fast broadband and mobile coverage–not just in offices, but on farms, in schools, and on the roads. This once in a generation opportunity for all three mobile network operators to provide both competitive ultra-fast broadband and world class 4G mobile infrastructure will not only deliver the connectivity for rural New Zealand,but also the safety of Kiwis living in those remote areas.”
2degress Chief Commercial Officer and RCG Board member Paul Mathewson said, “We’re proud as an industry to be able to collaborate and work together where it makes sense–and our RCG partnership with Spark and Vodafone is the perfect example. Connecting Kiwis with their loved ones or the people they do business with is at the heart of what drives us at 2degrees, and we’re thrilled that fast connectivity is going to reach the furthest and most remote corners of New Zealand.”
The Government via Crown Infrastructure Partners contracted the RCG to be the infrastructure provider to bring mobile and wireless broadband coverage to rural New Zealand under the Rural Broadband Initiative 2 and the Mobile Black Spot fund.
Once the RCG project is completed it will deliver new mobile and wireless broadband coverage to at least 38,000 rural homes and businesses. It will also provide mobile coverage to a further 1,200 kilometres of state highways and provide connectivity to at least 152 top New Zealand tourist destinations by December 2022.