Super keen for super highway: survey

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So keen are Tamahere and Matangi residents for fast internet that 27% of those responding to a recent survey on the topic were prepared to pay more than $1000 to bring it to their door.

Fibre-optic cable
UFB delivered by fibre-optic cabling would significantly increase internet download and upload speeds
Six per cent of respondents were prepared to pay whatever it cost to connect their home or business to the super highway.

Those are some of the findings in the full report of the survey, done in May, that the Waikato District Council has now posted on its website.

Nearly 500 Tamahere and Matangi residents said in the survey that they would sign up for a fibre-optic internet service if it was offered in their area.

More than 95% of respondents said they would definitely sign up for ultra-fast broadband (UFB) if it was offered and nearly 80% of respondents said they would be prepared to contribute at least $500 as a one-off contribution to the cost of delivering fibre-optic cable to their house.

Waikato District Council General Manager Strategy and Support Tony Whittaker said the survey results will be made available to fibre-optic cable providers and related interested parties with a view to encouraging a commercial approach to providing a UFB service for the area.

“It is clear that the community is strongly supportive of a fibre-optic service and this is an opportunity providers need to consider,” he said.

Earlier the council had said it was prepared to lobby central government for investment in UFB for the area if locals showed sufficient support for the idea.

There is a high proportion of business ownership in the area and the council undertook the survey in response to local dissatisfaction with cellular, Wi-Fi and copper wire-based internet services, which are at a capacity.

Tamahere ward councillor Wally Hayes said plans to lobby government are in the pipeline. The survey and the results showing the community wants UFB and is prepared to help itself will be used in an attempt to attract a UFB provider, which could then present a business case to central government to provide UFB to Tamahere-Matangi, he said.

The area needs to make its own effort to get UFB as it has not qualified under the government-funded scheme designed to deliver the super-highway throughout the country.

UFB background

UFB is being rolled out around the country under the government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative, which has a goal of bringing UFB to 80% of New Zealanders by 2022.

In 2011, Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH), the Crown-owned company formed to manage the government’s $2 billion investment in UFB infrastructure, selected a number of commercial partners to deliver the ultra-fibre cables to 75% of New Zealanders by 2020.

In 2015, the scheme was given additional funding of $210 million to extend it to 50 additional small towns, taking the goal to 80% of New Zealanders by 2022.

In September that year, the Waikato District Council made a bid for some of the additional funding but did not name Tamahere as one of its priority areas, a move heavily criticised by Hayes.

Subsequently, the council agreed to survey Tamahere and Matangi to help attract a UFB provider in order for the area to mount its own case for fast internet.

The survey

The survey was sent to a sample of about 1400 Tamahere and Matangi property owners to find out if there was sufficient local support to warrant the council investigating whether there might be an opportunity to include Tamahere and Matangi in a future UFB rollout.

UFB delivered by fibre-optic cabling would significantly increase download and upload speeds, remove the current cap on capacity and dramatically improve the reliability of internet services, the council has said.

Click the following link for the full report (PDF): tamahere-matangi-ufb-survey-report

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