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Rural Broadband Initiative takes first step

30 Jun 2011

The rollout of broadband to rural New Zealand is underway, with three schools around the country now connected to the fibre network.

Students at Henderson Valley School in West Auckland, Te Kura o Omaio in the Bay of Plenty and Granity School on the West Coast are all enjoying the new broadband service, and around 750 more schools are to be connected in the future.

Education facilities won’t be the only beneficiaries either, with rural businesses also set to profit.

Minister for ICT, Steven Joyce, says the rollout of the RBI will dramatically reduce the ‘digital divide’.

"The RBI is all about providing digital opportunities to more than a quarter of a million people in rural communities,” Joyce says.

The first three schools are receiving their broadband free of charge from their existing internet service providers, Joyce adds.

"MaxNet, Watchdog, Telecom and Smart Computer Systems should be applauded for getting these schools set up in record time to demonstrate these services today.”

A regional schedule for the RBI rollout is to be confirmed later this year.

Read our story on the rollout of Ultra-Fast Broadband here, and see Labour's latest response here.