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Better internet on the way

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

Wairarapa people living south of Masterton are finally on the list to get Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB), now set to roll out in Carterton, and all South Wairarapa towns.

But it won’t happen in a rush.

Work is expected to be completed for Carterton by 2019, Greytown by 2020, Featherston by 2021, and Martinborough by 2022.

The locations and timeline for the rollouts were confirmed yesterday by Minister for Communications Simon Bridges, and follows stage one of the government initiative, which saw UFB roll out in Masterton, among other areas.

“Connectivity is critical to our regional economies and to New Zealand’s future.”

Mr Bridges said the UFB rollout would result in “more productive businesses, improvements to health care through video-conferencing between doctors, specialists and patients, and improved access to online resources for students and teachers”.

The Wairarapa-wide bid for UFB was kicked off in 2015 with the project “WaiConnect”, a joint initiative by Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils.

It was managed by Jennifer Taylor of Taylor Corporate Solutions in Masterton.

South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier said she was very excited that each town in the district had been selected for the initiative.

“It’s just going to be great and it’s really good that all the towns were included.

“I would have been disappointed if, say Martinborough, was left off the list because it’s not on the main line sort of thing. I’m very pleased to see all of them on the list.”

She said it was unfortunate that it was going to take until 2022 for Martinborough — “which is a bit of a way off”.

“But at least we know that it’s coming and I’m sure it will be a great thing for all of South Wairarapa, whether you’re a businessman or at home with the kids.”

Carterton mayor John Booth said the UFB announcement was “a game changer” for the town.

“Carterton’s great community already attracts savvy people and having the best access to high speed connectivity will be a huge factor in even more people making the decision to move to our district,” he said.

“Having access to better connectivity will also give our big commuter population the ability to work from home more often.”

Both mayors thanked the WaiConnect team, which was made up of business leaders, councillors and council staff from the three councils.

“The bid process for a slice of the Government’s UFB and Rural Broadband initiative fund was complicated,” Mr Booth said.

“It is a huge opportunity and advantage for Wairarapa and shows just what can happen when all the councils work together for the good of the province.”

 

UFB expected to spark economic growth

 

The rollout of Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) into Carterton, Greytown, Featherston and Martinborough will spark economic growth in Wairarapa and improve productivity for businesses.

Masterton District Council economic development manager Kieran McAnulty said access to UFB would “certainly be an economic stimulus” in the region.

“Businesses will basically be able to do things faster, and therefore will be more efficient,” he said.

“Once the whole of Wairarapa has UFB installed, it’s going to be much easier for Wairarapa as a whole to attract new businesses that rely on access to digital technology: hi-tech businesses, IT businesses, businesses that might consider moving here and employing here.”

Mr McAnulty said all Wairarapa people benefited from “good things happening in the other Wairarapa towns”.

“If we want to be a place where talent want to live, we need to have the same opportunities that are offered elsewhere, and fibre is one of those things.

“Masterton, we believe, has benefited, and we’re really excited about these other towns getting access to the technology as well.”

He said it would be nicer if the rollout was scheduled to be completed sooner, “but we’re not focusing on that – we’re just pleased we’re on the list and that it is going to happen”.

Jennifer Taylor of Taylor Corporate Solutions is the project manager of WaiConnect, which won the towns the UFB bid.

“We never were totally confident we would get all four towns, so to get that was just . . . I’m ecstatic,” she said.

“Obviously what this means for the community and businesses is just fantastic.

“It puts us on level footing with other cities and towns in terms of access to technology and the internet.”

She said it had been a “long road” for the WaiConnect project team.

“We started back in April 2015 when we were first tasked with putting together the bid.

“The fact that the three councils worked together was a great advantage, and we were told that by the Minister’s Office – they were very pleased that the Wairarapa councils provided a joint bid and worked together to prioritise and get that information together.”

The challenge now for councils and WaiConnect is to “sharpen up” their bid for rural broadband.

“We have to prioritise those properties that have no or very poor internet connection in the rural areas, so that’s what we’re working on now and that will be due by April 3.”

 

UFB: Makes homework faster

 

Brian Eccles is the managing director of Masterton business Cashmanager RURAL.

Managing director of Masterton business Cashmanager RURAL Brian Eccles is pleased Ultra-Fast Broadband is on its way. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
Managing director of Masterton business Cashmanager RURAL Brian Eccles is pleased Ultra-Fast Broadband is on its way. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN

He says Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) is at the core of the business, which employs more than 50 staff.

“We’re a major employer in Masterton and are incredibly dependent on broadband – it’s been hugely beneficial to this business,” he said.

“Cashmanager RURAL is a piece of farm management software that is used to keep banks informed and assist the accountants to help the farmer run their farm a bit more efficiently.

“We’ve got about 50 people here developing software, and it is online and cloud-based software, so everyone in the business is using cloud software all day, every day.”

He said the most significant benefit of UFB to Wairarapa businesses was that people would be able to work faster from home.

“Some of our staff live in South Wairarapa, and some work from home.

“Being able to have absolutely immaculate broadband for them is huge for a business like us.”

Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce Chair Sean Stafford said the UFB rollout would ensure Wairarapa remained a “compelling proposition” for businesses looking to relocate to provincial New Zealand.

The chamber’s new general manager Catherine Rossiter-Stead said it would open up more business opportunities especially for contractors, small businesses and anyone who worked from home.

“UFB will take away yet another barrier to economic development as we continue to attract new businesses to the region.”

 

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Great that my Martinborough business must labour along on decrepit internet that was slow 5 years ago, never mind today.

    By the the time 2022 rolls around, how many businesses will have closed their doors or moved elsewhere?

Comments are closed.

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