New targets to boost connectivity in our rural areas

Columns
Friday, November 6, 2015

Many rural communities in Selwyn are benefitting from improved broadband services thanks to the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI). However, I know from personal experience that there are a number of areas where connectivity is still not as good as we would like it to be.

I hope that Selwyn communities outside the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) footprint will be heartened by the Government’s new connectivity targets. The target is for 99% of New Zealanders, regardless of where they live or work, to be able to access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2025.

50 Mbps will allow users to:

Use multiple devices at the same time without experiencing a degraded service

Stream ultra HD video straight to their computer or television without buffering

Sync multiple users into video conferencing

Transfer a 100MB data file in as little as 16 seconds

Host multiplayer games with dozens of players

Use video-on-demand services which recommend 25 Mbps speeds per stream for playing movies and TV shows in ultra HD online

This will mark a ten-fold increase on the current target peak speeds of 5 Mbps under the RBI, phase one of which is due for completion in December next year.

The Government recognises that securing reliable and affordable telecommunications services is critical to the health and wellbeing of rural communities.

We’ve come a long way already in improving rural connectivity under the RBI and 4G networks, with average internet speeds having tripled during the past seven years, but we want to take that even further and these new targets will allow us to do that.

Fast, reliable broadband is an important factor in enabling economic growth. It allows rural and farming communities and regions to remove the barriers and disadvantages of distance, and provides opportunities for them to raise productivity, attract and retain staff, and compete on a national and global stage.

The Government recognises that New Zealanders’ use of, and reliance on, technology and broadband connectivity are increasing rapidly. It is therefore vital that we set aspirational targets to ensure we keep up with this pace of change.

This change will see New Zealand move from 17th in the world for rural connectivity targets to 7th and will ensure that no-one misses out on the opportunities of the digital age. We want to see all Kiwis, whether urban or rural, with access to the economic and social opportunities high-speed connectivity brings.