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Vodafone 4G upgrade lifts rural broadband speeds

More than 200 towers now built or upgraded to 4G in quest for a minimum of 50Mbps connectivity nationwide by 2025.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor

More than 200 of Vodafone's rural broadband towers have now been built or upgraded to 4G as part of the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), New Zealand's communications minister Amy Adams says.

In 2011, Vodafone and Telecom headed off government-owned Kordia to win the NZ$300 million RBI contract, which was initially scoped to serve 252,000 customers.
Telecom's now-separated Chorus network division supplies fibre to Vodafone's towers and to rural schools.

The original contract stipulated that 86 percent of rural houses and businesses were to receive peak downlink broadband speeds of 5 megabits per second. However, the shift to 4G means that speed is now being exceeded for many.

Adams says more than 100,000 rural families and businesses now have access to "fibre-like" speeds, with some experiencing up to 100Mbps.

Last June, Spark took the battle for rural customers to Vodafone, announcing it would upgrade and extend its mobile service.

Spark's general manager of wholesale and product, Lindsay Cowley, said at the time the uptake of existing RBI products had been "quite low" and there had been murmurings of dissatisfaction with the service.

Adams says by this time next year, around 290,000 households and businesses will have access to high-speed wireless broadband under the RBI.

"There's little doubt that our RBI programme is delivering massive value for those living in our rural and farming communities," Adams says.

The next phase of the RBI has a target of delivering speeds of at least 50Mbps by 2025 to virtually every New Zealander.

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