05 June 2014
Vodafone will switch on its services at a new cell site on Stewart Island this week – part of the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) – bringing Vodafone mobile coverage and wireless broadband to locals and visitors for the first time.
Vodafone is beyond the half way point of the RBI rollout in the deep south, completing nine of 12 new planned towers, and radically improving the island’s connectivity.
The new sites around Invercargill, Gore, Southland and Clutha districts have made Vodafone mobile coverage and fast and reliable wireless broadband available to nearly 7,000 rural addresses – including those on Stewart Island.
Darren Ludlow, Invercargill City Deputy Mayor, says the extension of the Vodafone network to Stewart Island will make a huge difference for locals and visitors alike.
“There’s a close connection between Invercargill City and Stewart Island – many of our residents have holiday homes there, and Stewart Islanders rely on the city for supplies and key services. Having Vodafone mobile coverage means visitors can use their mobiles just as they would at home, and locals have a choice of provider for the first time.
“This is a tremendous advancement in bridging the digital divide between the two locations.”
Over the next 12 months, Vodafone will build the final three towers planned under the RBI – at Centre Hill, Waikaia and Mt Prospect – and complete upgrades to 11 of its existing towers in the deep south, enhancing mobile coverage and making wireless broadband available to a further 6,000 addresses.
Vodafone’s Head of Retail, Reon Goodwillie, says there’s no question that access to high-speed broadband makes a significant difference to the lives of rural New Zealanders.
“Having high-speed broadband enhances employment and study options for residents and allows customers to experience speeds in excess of some city dwellers, and provides a consistent and reliable service – far superior to current dial-up speeds.”
Under the five year RBI plan, Vodafone is funding the upgrade of 387 existing cell towers and building a further 154 new towers in rural areas all over New Zealand to achieve government community coverage targets. The government is funding the civil construction costs of the new sites which are designed to accommodate Vodafone equipment and that of other mobile and wireless operators.
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