Council Backs District’s Digital Future

Council Backs District’s Digital Future

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Better broadband and cell phone coverage in South Taranaki has been given a major boost (this week) with the announcement that the South Taranaki District Council (STDC) has agreed to establish a Digital Development Fund (DDF) of up to $1 million to help provide high quality, high speed access to the internet and mobile networks across the district.

STDC Chief Executive, Craig Stevenson, says the DDF comes in response to the Government’s decision (in March 2015) to extend their Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiatives and establish a Mobile Black Spot Fund, to the tune of $360 million.

“Councils across NZ were invited to submit bids to these contestable government funds. Unsurprisingly we are one out of 64 Councils who’ve expressed an interest in extending existing services under the Government’s scheme. So, in an effort to create a point of difference with our bid, the Council has agreed to create this Digital Development Fund,” says Mr Stevenson.

“ In today’s world being digitally capable is absolutely vital to economic prosperity. The Council believes improving our mobile cell phone and internet connections is one of the most important things we can do to improve the district’s economic and social development.”

“The Fund would be primarily used for co-investment with either the Government or other service providers to help build a high quality, open access, backhaul fibre network along all parts of SH3 and SH45 that fall within our district,” he says.

“This fibre network will then allow existing service providers to provide enhanced broadband and mobile coverage into our rural areas via wireless and other technologies,” says Mr Stevenson.

“We see this as a genuine opportunity to create better quality fast broadband for our whole district, particularly in rural areas,” he says.

Mr Stevenson says the Digital Development Fund will be created by ring fencing up to $1 million from the Council's Long Term Investment Fund. By using this funding source, the Council can ensure there is no impact on rates.

Mr Stevenson says the Council expects their bid for second round ultra fast fibre build to be considered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment sometime in the first three months of 2016 and then subsequent locations related to Rural Broadband and Mobile Black Spot funding in the second quarter of the year.