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Strong response to $300m rural bb plan

02 Jun 2010

ICT Minister Steven Joyce is pleased with both thequantity and quality of the expressions of interest the government’s receivedfrom suppliers keen to participate in its Rural Broadband Initiative.

A statement from his office says there have been 39expressions of interest in the Initiative, which aims to deploy a fibre networkto 93% of rural schools enabling speeds of 100Mbps in six years. The additional7% of schools will receive broadband speeds of 10Mbps using other technologysuch as wireless or satellite. The schools will act as connectivity hubs todeliver broadband services of at least 5Mbps to over 80% of rural households.

"Interest has come from infrastructure companies from NewZealand and abroad, and includes nine substantial expressions of interestcovering the entire country,” Joyce says. 

“The responses havegenerated numerous options for the deployment of fast broadband to rural communitiesand schools. Ministry of Economic Development officials will be consideringthese over the next couple of months before the release of the Request forProposals in August.”

Among those to have publically stated their intention toparticipate are lines company Vector. It released a statement yesterday claimingit can deliver fibre connectivity to rural Auckland in four years. Also goingpublic is the New Zealand Regional Fibre Group, which has submitted acoordinated response that aims to deliver fibre to at least 94% of schools,ensuring 97% of the population will receive access to enhanced fibre-basedbroadband speeds.

The Initiative is being funded by a direct $48 milliongovernment grant and a $252 million levy imposed on the telco industry thatwill replace the TSO. In addition the MED may borrow up to $52 million from theUltra Fast Broadband (UFB).