Spark will fast-track its rollout of fast 4G wireless technology to enable fast broadband services across rural Canterbury.
Fresh from announcing plans to acquire Christchurch-based Computer Concepts Limited for $50 million, the telco is investing $14 million in an accelerated programme that within the next 12 months will see Spark’s 4G services covering 96 percent of the rural area.
The initiative - which was expected to take three years - is replacing traditional ADSL modems connected via a copper phone line with new fixed-wireless broadband technology that runs on Spark’s 4G cellular network.
A culmination of several months’ work between Spark and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, all Canterbury councils have agreed to work with Spark on design and consenting issues associated with such a large-scale and rapid 4G rollout, to ensure mobile cell tower site acquisition and consenting processes will be as fast and efficient as possible.
Spark Managing Director Simon Moutter says Canterbury will be the first region where Spark has committed to an “accelerated, intensive rollout” of 4G services in collaboration with local councils.
“We’ve been impressed by the way all the councils across the Canterbury region are working together on economic development, so we worked with the Canterbury Mayoral Forum on how we might do things differently to help unleash the potential of Canterbury,” he says.
“This development will be a huge step change for Canterbury.
“For most rural customers, it will mean for the first time they can get urban broadband performance at close to urban broadband pricing levels - delivered via 4G wireless rather than a physical copper or fibre connection.
“We’re talking of download speeds ranging from well above 20 to up to 135 megabits per second - compared with traditional copper line broadband which for many people in remote areas only delivers speeds of under 2 megabits - and that’s on a good day.”
For Moutter, that’s the difference between several people watching streaming internet videos or surfing the net off the same modem at once, and someone struggling even to open a website page.
“This announcement represents an early, positive outcome from the Mayoral Forum’s Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy,” adds Dame Margaret Bazley, Chair of the Canterbury Mayoral Forum.
“It’s a great example of how by working together and by collaborating with the private sector, councils across the region can deliver real benefits for the people of Canterbury.”