It looks like the Local Board and everybody contacting Chorus and Ministers with their concerns might be having some effect. Amy Adams sent this the other day.
Thank you for your email dated 6 March 2016 to Hon Nikki Kaye, Member of
Parliament for Auckland Central, regarding broadband services on Great Barrier
Island. The matters you raise fall within my portfolio responsibilities as Minister for
Communications, and have therefore been forwarded to me for response.
I can understand your frustrations and share your concerns that some
New Zealanders are not able to receive a satisfactory internet connection because of
where they live. That is why this Government has committed to lifting New Zealand’s
broadband performance, and the first phases of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) and
Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) programmes are well on their way to delivering
faster speeds to 97.8 per cent of New Zealanders by 2020.
As a Minister of the Crown, I am unable to intervene in the business operations of
private companies, such as Chorus and Vodafone. However, I have asked my
officials to provide an update on broadband availability on Great Barrier Island. I
understand that you may have already received information from the office of Hon
Nikki Kaye in relation to your email so you may already be aware of some of the
Chorus has confirmed that it has recently made the decision to upgrade two existing
cabinets on Great Barrier Island by June 2016. This upgrade will improve the speeds
of existing connections and will allow for new customers to be connected. These
upgrades, however, will not extend to the entire Island.
If you still reside at Mason Road, much of the information in my previous letter to
you (reference CITAA1415-410) remains current. It is unlikely that the planned
upgrades will improve the broadband connection to your address. The primary
reason you experience slow speeds at your address is due to your distance of more
than 6km from the cabinet that delivers broadband services to your area. This is
beyond the theoretical limit of ADSL.
I note your comments about slow internet speeds on Great Barrier Island generally.
Chorus has confirmed that, although broadband services are linked to the mainland
(the backhaul link) by Digital Microwave Radio in the Waikato, broadband speeds on
Great Barrier Island are not affected by services in the Waikato. Furthermore,
infrastructure upgrades in the Coromandel have no adverse impact on the
infrastructure that provides services to Great Barrier Island.
Vodafone has confirmed that the RBI towers providing fixed-wireless services to the
Island also use Chorus backhaul. The use of Chorus’ fibre does not impact the
fixed-line access network on Great Barrier Island.
Vodafone has advised my officials that it has a long term commitment to Great
Barrier Island and has managed to provide considerable increased coverage over the
last three years. However, it does not currently have plans for further upgrades.
When planning future upgrades, Vodafone takes into account area population,
potential demand, initial deployment costs, ongoing maintenance and future upgrade
requirements. Upgrading a network outside of Government programmes is a
commercial decision on the part of private companies, such as Vodafone, and will be
driven by network priorities. I am unable to intervene in such decisions.
I note your comment that it would have been desirable to deploy UFB to Great
Barrier Island instead of fixed-wireless broadband under the RBI. While the
Government would like to be able to provide UFB to all, the cost of deployment in
areas with difficult terrain and low population densities means this is not currently
possible, and we have had to prioritise.
Please be assured that this Government is actively seeking ways to help improve
broadband coverage across New Zealand, particularly in rural and more remote
areas. To this end, the Government is extending the UFB programme, entering the
second phase of the RBI programme, and establishing a new Mobile Black Spot
Fund which focuses on areas of state highways and tourism areas that currently
have no coverage. With combined funding of up to $360 million, it is intended that
mobile and broadband coverage will be expanded to many communities across
New Zealand under these programmes.
Hon Amy Adams
Minister for Communications