28 Oct 2010

TUANZ holds symposium on rural broadband

2:27 pm on 28 October 2010

A rural broadband symposium that opened in Rotorua on Thursday aims to put a bit more flesh on the bones of the plan to roll out high-speed internet access into rural New Zealand.

The Government plan, annnounced last year, aims to have more than 90% of rural schools fibre connected and 80% of rural households getting a five-megabite-per-second service within six years.

The Government received almost 40 bids from mainly regional providers in an earlier tender process, but changed the rules in August, restricting bids to national coverage, rather than allowing regional proposals.

The Telecommunication Users Association (TUANZ) is hosting the symposium, and business development manager Katherine Hall says she's hoping to hear the outcome before the end of the year.

New techonology 'will be held back'

An advisory board set up to drive a new rural technology system believes a lack of high-speed internet connections in rural areas will hold it back.

The cloud computing system called RuralZone has been developed by Gen-i, a subsidiary of Telecom, and three agricultural companies.

It will enable the capture, storage and sharing of information among multiple users.

The chair of RuralZone's independent advisory board, Dr Andrew West, says they also want to make sure that the technology has the potential to add value.

But he says the technology relies on high-speed internet, which is not yet available in most rural areas.