Rural broadband rollout recognised on world stage

The rollout of the Government's rural broadband initiative (RBI) has won an international award.

A joint Chorus and Nokia entry has won the Broadband Delivering Social Impact award at the Broadband World Forum awards in Germany.

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," she said.

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 upgrades, residents and businesses in these rural areas could generally only access broadband speeds of between one and five megabytes per second. 

Today, the average speed in these areas is about 25 megabytes per second.

The programme also delivered one gigabyte per second fibre broadband to 1000 rural schools, ensuring that students now have access to the same opportunities as their urban counterparts.

Nokia Customer Director Jamie Hodgkinson, Chorus Chief Executive Kate McKenzie and Chorus Chief Customer Office Ed Hyde with the award for winning the Broadband Delivering Social Impact category at the Broadband World Forum awards in Germany.
Nokia Customer Director Jamie Hodgkinson, Chorus Chief Executive Kate McKenzie and Chorus Chief Customer Office Ed Hyde with the award for winning the Broadband Delivering Social Impact category at the Broadband World Forum awards in Germany. Photo credit: Supplied

"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," said Ms McKenzie.

"The availability of gigabit broadband has had a profound impact on rural schools, teachers, students and their communities," she said.

More rural communities are also 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 percent of New Zealand will have access to world-leading fibre infrastructure from school to home, and city to country, Chorus says.

Nokia customer director Jamie Hodgkinson is also 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.

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