11 Sep 2009

$300m nvestment in rural broadband seen as not enough

7:10 am on 11 September 2009

A rural broadband expert says a $300 million investment to provide high-speed internet to rural areas still lags behind what the Government is spending for the urban community.

The Government has announced plans get most rural communities hooked up to broadband in six years.

Earlier this year, it announced a strategy to provide an ultra-fast service to the 25 biggest towns and cities in New Zealand, within 10 years, including investing $1.5 billion in fibre-optic infrastructure,

The Government says the latest rural policy will cost about $300 million, with funding to come from both the public and private purse.

Fibre optic infrastructure will be installed to 93% of rural schools, enabling them to receive the ultra-fast service.

However, a Waikato-based rural broadband expert, Murray Pearson from the company Rural Link, says $300 million is not going to be enough if rural services are to be similar to urban areas.

But he says, connections to most rural schools will be a good stepping stone.