21 Oct 2011

Vodafone to plug gaps in rural cell phone coverage

6:27 am on 21 October 2011

Vodafone is proposing to plug the gaps in services to rural communities that won't be covered as part of the Government broad-band roll-out.

Vodafone has a joint contract with Telecom to deliver high-speed internet to the bulk of rural schools and households, within six years.

Part of that involves providing more than 150 new cellphone towers.

Vodafone says that will still leave about 2% of households that won't be covered by its network.

So it's proposing to rectify that by installing at least two more sites a year, around the country.

Vodafone external communications manager Michelle Baguley says small rural communities wanting cellphone coverage can apply to have their case considered.

She says criteria that Vodafone will consider will be whether there is willing landowner who can provide track maintenance to and from the site, close proximity to existing mains power and support from the local community.

Ms Baguley says also helpful would be support from the local MP, iwi and council and support from the residents to support Vodafone's Resource Management Act application.

She says Vodafone plans to build the first two towers next year.

Applications for those close mid-December and it's already had two from rural communities.

She says Vodafone plans to keep the scheme going for at least three years.