Federated Farmers and TUANZ believe it is essential the next Government delivers better connectivity to rural New Zealand, and is keen to work with them to make that happen.
“We are encouraged by the National Party’s further commitment of $150million, if they’re re-elected, and hope to see a similar commitment from our next Government announced this Saturday” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Telecommunications Spokesperson.
“Federated Farmers and TUANZ support a Gigabit Agenda for Rural New Zealand that doesn’t leave our productive sector behind. We need to talk about gigabit speeds, where farmers can eventually get their gigabytes as fast as the townies do.
“National’s $100million contestable fund is a great start to deliver gigabit speed where it matters. Rural ISP’s such as Uber Group, Amuri.net, Farmside etcetera are the foot soldiers of rural broadband/connectivity. With no assistance from government to date, it’ll be exciting to see what they can do if they get some backing.
“If we don't address the gigabit gap, the digital divide will be worse in 10 years time than it was when the Rural Broadband Initiative was introduced. Rural broadband needs to be for everyone, not just rural schools and towns, and it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg to get it.
“To date schemes to get rural broadband and cell service have not been ambitious enough. We'd like to make an ambitious suggestion that the fund should be used to pilot rural broadband solutions that have the potential to deliver gigabit speeds to New Zealand's farms within 10 years.
“If we are going to make a real impact we need to think outside the box and understand that the technology requirements for rural are not the same as they are for urban. Similar to the days when phone lines were slow to be delivered to farms, farmers are more than willing to do their part to make this happen. All we need is for the big boys to play ball!
“Rural New Zealand is the engine room of our economy, and if we are to double our exports by 2025, $35.2 billion in 2013, we need to empower farmers to operate their business efficiently and effectively.