West Coast gets 250km fibre network boost, new 4G cell towers on their way

An illustration of  fibre broadband
Residents of remote township Haast can now order the fastest internet available. Photo credit: Getty Images

Those on the west coast of the South Island can now expect their internet and phone connections to be quicker and more resilient after Chorus's network upgrade in the region was completed.

The 250km infrastructure project includes giving one of the remotest towns in Aotearoa access to fibre broadband, the company said.

Until now, the West Coast has been reliant on two fibre optic cables connecting the region via SH6 from Nelson to Greymouth, with another cable passing through Arthurs Pass from Christchurch to Greymouth.

That left towns south of Greymouth vulnerable to outages during severe weather events.

"West Coasters from Fox Glacier to Haast can now have peace of mind that their broadband and phone service has an additional layer of protection from outages," Andrew Carroll, Chorus' GM, customer and network operations, said.

"The new diversity in Chorus' network will provide additional peace of mind against future network damaging weather events on the West Coast."

Haast residents will also get access to fibre for the first time, with around 90 homes and businesses now able to order the service via their chosen ISP.

"Making fibre available to residents in Haast was a uniquely Kiwi initiative," Carroll said.

"It sees residents in one of the remotest towns in New Zealand having access to one of the fastest broadband technologies available."

The new fibre network also gives the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) the ability to build 16 new mobile cell sites along the West Coast.

In addition to the 26 sites already operational there, thousands of residents will benefit from 4G mobile services in their homes, with 130km of state highways and 14 tourist locations also getting coverage.

John Proctor, RCG Chief Executive, said the West Coast project is significant because of the number of sites being built on the most challenging of terrain.

"Our teams are bringing modern services to remote places visited by thousands of visitors each year and where locals depend on the agricultural and tourism industries and want to provide the best experience possible," Proctor said.

"Our network is key to providing the connectivity that will enhance people's everyday lives on the West Coast, help keep visitors safe on the roads and wilderness spots and assist DOC in keeping the National Parks great places to visit."