Mobile connectivity in Selwyn improving
We’ve become so connected through our phones that we’ve come to expect high-quality connectivity wherever we go. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, nor is it the case in most countries around the world.
Our three major mobile network companies provide access to around 97 per cent of New Zealanders but only reach 46 per cent of geographic coverage.
80 per cent of New Zealanders now have access to 4G, or fourth generation, high speed mobile data services. The Government expects that number to reach 90 per cent by 2019.
I’m a staunch supporter of better, faster mobile connectivity. I understand first-hand the frustrations some of our communities experience when their connectivity is poor.
Before we started rolling out the Rural Broadband Initiative in 2011, Governments had never funded mobile coverage. However, this Government decided to make mobile connectivity a priority because we recognise the enormous benefits better coverage can bring to our provincial areas.
Since 2011 we have funded the building or upgrade of 541 cell towers to improve mobile connectivity nationwide. This extended coverage is vital for emergency services and is beneficial to connectivity all-round.
While improving connectivity is the first goal, residents are also understandably keen to have a choice of network providers wherever possible. Thanks to a new Spark cell tower at Castle Hill, residents in the area now have more than one option for their mobile service.
Spark and Vodafone, who won the auction of the 700 MHz band of radio spectrum in 2014, are required to build new towers in rural areas in the first five years following the purchase.
Rural cell phone coverage will continue to improve through 2016 under the RBI programme. Going forward, the Government has allocated a further $100 million for improving general connectivity in rural areas, as well as $50 million to a contestable fund to address mobile black spots.