itb-nz logo
Story image

Fibre favoured in $300m rural bb plan

22 Apr 2010

Fibre is the favoured technology in the government's ruralbroadband plan, but wireless broadband will be considered if it can achieve10Mbps to remote schools.

In the Expressions of Interest document released todaytelcos, lines companies and community organisations are invited to submitproposals to the $300 million Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI). The initiativeis being funded by a direct $48 million government grant and a $252 millionlevy imposed on the telco industry that will replace the TSO. In addition theMED may borrow up to $52 million from the Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB).

The purpose of the RBI is to extend the roll out of fibre to93% of rural schools which will then become connectivity hubs for thesurrounding community.

In the RBI documents, fibre is the preferred technologyhowever it’s expected 3% of New Zealand schools will not receive a fibre connectionand “respondents may express interest in providing a 10Mbps or better serviceto rural primary schools that would be prohibitively expensive to serve withfibre.”

In a press release accompanying the release of the documentsICT Minister Steven Joyce says the first contracts to provide fast ruralbroadband are expected to be signed by the end of year. The indicative timetable is that EOIs will be received by the end of May, the RFP released in August,proposals received in September and funding allocated in November.

Meanwhile the government is undertaking a trial of aNational Education Network (NEN). “The trial provides schools that are connectedto fibre by the end of June 2010 to connect to a trial network that allowsschools to share resources and services with each other. The government isworking on policy for schools’ networking generally, and expects to makeannouncements later in the year.”

All documents related to the RBI are available on the MEDwebsite.