The Kiwi people (named for the native, but flightless bird, not the fruit) living in rural areas are now connected. New Zealand’s Communication Minister Amy Adams (not to be confused with the Colorado-raised actress) announced yesterday the completion of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) Phase 1 new tower program with 154 towers build ahead of schedule.
She was in Waipu to celebrate the feat that now gives 300,000 rural families and businesses access to high speed 3G and 4G broadband services. Scoop.co.nz reported that under original specifications, the fixed wireless broadband service was to provide at least 5Mbps peak download speeds. Recent testing shows the 4G service is delivering speeds nine times faster than originally promised.
“The new tower build has extended nationwide mobile coverage by (3,852 square miles) to reach a total of (78,106 square miles) of coverage in rural New Zealand,” Adams said. “The program has extended coverage to areas where previously there was none. At the start of the build, nationwide mobile coverage of New Zealand’s land mass was at 38 percent. With the rollout of RBI, mobile coverage is now approximately 50 percent of the country’s mass.”
In 2011 the New Zealand government inked a $60 million contract with Vodafone for the supply of services under the RBI. Alongside this, 387 towers will be upgraded nationwide by June 2017. Adams called the Vodafone “very successful, with approximately four out of every five new cell towers hosting a mix of competing operators.”