The joint Chorus and Nokia entry has won the Broadband Delivering Social Impact award for its work on the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative.
Chorus CEO Kate McKenzie said the award was fantastic recognition for a lot of people who had worked hard over many years to improve broadband in rural New Zealand.
“There is no question that access to better broadband makes a significant difference to the lives of rural New Zealanders, and this initiative shows how passionate Chorus is about improving rural connectivity.”
Chorus’ RBI work has resulted in more than 1200 cabinets being upgraded across New Zealand, meaning about 110,000 households and businesses now have access to faster broadband. Before the cabinet upgrades, residents and businesses in these rural areas could generally only access broadband speeds of between 1 and 5Mbps. Today, the average speed in these areas is about 25Mbps.
The programme also delivered 1Gbps fibre broadband to 1000 rural schools, ensuring that students now have access to the same opportunities as their urban counterparts.
“Chorus’ key target of connecting all rural schools was particularly satisfying, as this has resulted in a major long-term benefit to the nation, and we are particularly pleased to observe the strong take up of fibre by schools across the country.
“The availability of gigabit broadband has had a profound impact on rural schools, teachers, students and their communities. These schools do not have access to as many resources as schools in urban areas and cannot always provide teachers for every subject. They rely on online classes to bridge the gap.”
The spin off benefit of connecting schools to the Chorus fibre network has been important, too, with more rural communities now being included as part of Chorus’ fibre-to-the-home programme, giving rural households access to fibre broadband.
Once the fibre-to-the-home programme is completed, 87% of New Zealand will now have access to world leading fibre infrastructure – from school to home – from city to country.
Nokia Customer Director Jamie Hodgkinson was thrilled with the win.
“Nokia is proud of our partnership with Chorus and are delighted to be making a difference for New Zealanders,” he said.
In total the Rural Broadband Initiative work done by Chorus involved:
More than 3500km of fibre laid.
More than 1200 new broadband cabinets installed or upgraded, resulting in better broadband for about 110,000 homes and businesses.
More than 40,000 lines enabled to access broadband services in rural areas that had no previous access.
1000 rural schools connected to fibre
Fibre access to 39 hospitals or integrated family health centres.
150 new mobile cell sites connected to fibre providing fixed broadband.