Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees have made a submission to the Government proposing to use the recently announced Rural Broadband Initiative Extension (RBI2) and Mobile Black Spot Fund to improve rural broadband and mobile infrastructure.
They say that, if their proposal is accepted, they would invest hundreds of millions of dollars including a capital contribution of $75m to establish the infrastructure and contribute spectrum, ongoing operating expenditure and other resources that would in total “more than match the Government's own contribution of $150m, via the Telecommunications Development Levy (TDL).”
They propose to deploy approximately 500 new cell sites to increase the coverage area of cellular networks by 25 percent (existing networks cover 90 percent of the population) and say “Thousands of rural households and businesses would gain access to fast broadband as well as quality mobile coverage, and more than 1,200 kilometres of additional mobile coverage along state highways.”
This, they say, would give the public better access to emergency services and enable these services to better coordinate operations from isolated locations. They add: “The tourism sector would also benefit, extending its ability to promote New Zealand to the world and allowing visitors to more easily share their experiences with family and friends.”
Spark managing director, Simon Moutter, said that Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees working together represented “the only economically viable way to deliver both quality mobile and wireless broadband infrastructure to the more challenging and remote rural areas of New Zealand."
Vodafone CEO, Russell Stanners, said the proposal “presents a once in a generation opportunity to deliver both competitive ultra-fast broadband and world class 4G mobile infrastructure to areas of New Zealand that today have neither."
2degrees CEO, Stewart Sherriff, said the plan would “enable 2degrees to compete strongly to provide rural households and businesses - and domestic and international tourists - with the products and services they deserve.”