MEDIA RELEASE : Resetting the dialogue around improving rural connectivity for long-term community and climate benefits


Thursday 11th February 2021

Resetting the dialogue around improving rural connectivity for long-term community and climate benefits

Technology Users Association New Zealand (TUANZ) believes New Zealand has an opportunity to reset the dialogue around improving rural connectivity and provide real, long-term benefits to rural communities through ensuring the current programmes deliver on time.

The publication of the 2020 Rural Connectivity Symposium Communique coincided with the release of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) 2021 Draft Report.

Technology Users Association New Zealand CEO Craig Young says it was pleasing to see that one of the CCC’s suggested time-critical necessary actions emphasised the importance of ensuring that the current government rural broadband programmes are delivered on time.

The CCC draft report recommended the government, “Ensure the Rural Broadband Initiative is resourced and prioritised to achieve its 2023 target, so that farmers have access to data and information to support decision making and the ability to practice precision agriculture.”

According to the CCC draft report, “Increasing technology use on farms will help to support efficiencies and reduce environmental impacts. Improved rural connectivity via broadband will make it easier to access the information and data farmers need to measure and monitor emissions and will support precision agriculture approaches.”

Mr Young says, “This year we found that the Rural Connectivity Symposium Communique for our 2020 was a longer document than previous years. The actions we identified are significant and focused on longer-term.”

“We believe that these actions are necessary to help rural New Zealand achieve the real benefits of connectivity, and to support on-farm efficiencies and reduce environmental impacts as outlined in the CCC draft report.”

The five high-level actions that the Technology Users Association New Zealand believes will make a difference, and therefore they and their partners should advocate for are:

  1. Building on the work and investment to date, we support the call for a 10 year strategic, multilateral plan for improving rural connectivity in NZ.
  2. Our end goal should be to ensure that the rural experience is at least equivalent to urban, recognising the requirement for a multi-technology approach.
  3. This will require a change to the funding model to a more transactional and end-user focused approach to ensure continued investment in network capacity, capability and offering enhancements such as free installs of CPE, as is the case in UFB.
  4. This end-user focused approach should be supported by rolling out a publicly available national connectivity register, allowing users and providers with a view of the best form of connectivity available at their location, as well as providing real-life experience reporting.
  5. All of this will fail though if users are not aware of their options or the opportunities they are missing out on. We need a concerted and planned awareness programme delivered at the community level.

These messages, as well as the challenges raised during the online event and subsequent workshops, will guide TUANZ advocacy and programmes in the area of Rural Connectivity over the next 12 months.  These will also guide the discussions at the 2021 Symposium which is scheduled for the 25th May 2021 in Hamilton.


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