Ultra-Fast Broadband extends up West Coast

Digital Economy and Communications Rural Communities

World-class Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) is now available in Haast, one of New Zealand’s most remote West Coast towns, Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark announced today.

“A reliable, fast and secure internet connection is an important asset in the digital economy and that is why this Government is boosting rural connectivity,” David Clark said.

“We extended the UFB rollout through the Provincial Growth Fund to include more rural communities in the scheme and ensure rural businesses are equipped with the tools to be more innovative and productive – which is what we need as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We promised to continue to boost rural connectivity at the 2020 election – and we will continue delivering on that commitment.

“We are also on track to reach our goal of 87 percent of all New Zealander’s having access to UFB by the end of 2022.

“The National Party struggled for nine long years to roll UFB outside of urban centres.

“On the West Coast alone, the population with access to UFB has surged from 23 percent to 71 percent since 2017, when Labour first took office,” David Clark said.

Alongside its fibre connection, Haast now also has a new 4G mobile tower replacing an old 3G site. This will cover around 90 households and businesses as well as 14km of State Highway 6, bringing significantly improved mobile connectivity to the area.

“This is a huge milestone for the Haast community and South Westland. This will greatly benefit many people and businesses, as improved connectivity is a key driver of economic growth,” Minister for Rural Communities, Damien O’Connor said.

The nearby settlement of Hannah’s Clearing will benefit too, receiving 4G coverage for mobile and broadband services and a further 4G mobile tower covering the settlements at Neil’s Beach and Jacksons Bay will be commissioned later this month.

Earlier in February, the Government unveiled a major effort to upgrade capacity on rural broadband networks.

The ongoing work will see existing cell towers upgraded and new towers built in rural areas experiencing poor performance, as well as fibre, additional VDSL coverage and other wireless technology deployed in congested areas. 

“Separate to the UFB rollout, by the end of 2024 around 47,000 rural households and businesses will experience faster internet speeds and better reception than they do right now courtesy of the Rural Broadband Initiative. This unlocks further opportunities for economic growth and improved services to rural communities in the digital age,” David Clark said.