Push for affordable rural broadband
30th Oct 08, 8:30am
Affordable broadband could soon be offered in the rural Waikato after Wintec joined the region's councils to investigate which areas are poorly served. Environment Waikato, and the region's district councils, have put $1000 each into the Whole of Waikato Regional Broadband Governance Group, which says affordable broadband is as important as power, water, and sewerage. The group is investigating what level of service is available across the region and plans to make a case to the Government's Broadband Initiative Fund in June for cash. National said it would axe the fund if it won the general election on November 8. However, it has promised to spend $1.5 billion on a half-share of a fibre optic network that would connect 75% of NZ households and businesses to broadband in the 22 biggest cities by 2015. Otorohanga mayor Dale Williams, said the existing service was slow, and outlying parts of the district could not get it except via satellite at about $600 per month. "For a struggling sheep and beef farmer that's just not an option," Mr Williams said. The Waikato Times reported IT consultant David Hallett, said broadband was extremely important for Waikato productivity."Agriculture would receive a direct benefit in terms of access to weather forecasts, information portals and electronic submission of herd records. Extending high-speed internet over the farm, with a wireless solution, means the ability to use electronic sensors for data-capture and PDAs for on-location data-entry, thus avoiding rekeying and subsequently increasing data accuracy."