Mobile services and broadband come to Chatham Islands for first time

World class mobile and broadband services have been switched on for the 663 residents of the Chatham Islands, Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark and Minister for Economic and Regional Development, Stuart Nash announced today.

“This eagerly awaited network will provide fast broadband and mobile services to residents and anybody who visits the Chatham Islands,” David Clark said.

“The small population of the Chatham and Pitt Islands have long awaited a reliable communication link with the mainland and I’m delighted to see it happen. This will be a real game-changer.”

The network has been made possible thanks to the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG), Government's Rural Broadband programme and an $11.5 million investment from the Government including $8.6m from the Provincial Growth Fund.

“Better coverage for business and households in small rural communities is vital to help strengthen the local economy, businesses and jobs, and to support the way of life in this remote part of New Zealand,” Stuart Nash said.

To enable technologies including: 4G wireless broadband, mobile voice, data and text services; a new satellite link, satellite dish and five cell sites have been installed around the main island.

 “The new network enables 111 Emergency calling to be available on the island for the first time. Users of all three mobile networks will now be able to contact emergency services from mobiles, not just landlines as was previously the case,” David Clark said.

“Today’s milestone sends a strong signal to the people of Rēkohu/Wharekauri that this rugged and unique place should still be able to enjoy modern connections to the rest of the world,” Stuart Nash said.

All three schools on the island, as well as the airport, will also receive coverage. The two marae, Whakamaharatanga Marae and Kopinga Marae, are connected as well.

Any household not covered for broadband from these new towers will receive broadband coverage from alternative technology in due course.