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Ultrafast broadband plan for rural towns re-emerges

January 26th, 2017
[by David Armstrong]

Government has announced the roll-out of fibre ultrafast broadband to 151 towns, including Motueka, Kaiteriteri, Mapua and Takaka over the period 2018 to 2024.

The Stuff website has reported that this will provide ultrafast broadband to a further 200,000 homes, and serving up to 85 per cent of the country.

The new 85 per cent coverage target is higher than the 80 per cent goal that former communications minister Amy Adams set for UFB2 when she first announced the second leg to the UFB scheme in 2014.

This news provides a little relief to those in Motueka and the Tasman district who in 2015 put in months of work to prepare plans and a submission to government to be included in the UFB scheme at the time.

That work lapsed following indications from government that its plans had been changed, and it would be concentrating more on the larger population centres.

In Motueka, several meetings were held to gather information to prepare a case for UFB to be provided in the town and surrounding area. (See our earlier report.)

Our Town Motueka through Johny O'Donnell, Vision Motueka through David Armstrong and Eva Lawrence, and the local iwi through Renee Thomas prepared submissions which were handled by a special TDC-managed digital steering group.

However, several months later feedback from government dried up and the initiative went onto the back burner.

In an email to members of the digital steering group, its coordinator Karen Lee said the group is "on hold pending the request for proposals for rural broadband two/mobile blackspot coverage".

"This is a good opportunity to review where to next for the work we are now involved in, and we'll be in touch to get feedback from you about future priorities shortly."

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