Rural broadband – getting connected in the country

Rural broadband in New Zealand has improved exponentially in recent years thanks to the Rural Broadband Initiative which has seen fibre delivered to rural schools, medical facilities and some libraries followed by rural businesses and homes. But if you live outside of these areas and don’t have access to fibre, what are your options for getting better broadband?

VDSL – if your rural home or business is within 2km of a cabinet, you should be able to get VDSL broadband with speeds of 25Mbps or more. A part-fibre broadband technology, VDSL supports a range of online activities like streaming high definition shows, video calling, and uploading photos using multiple devices.

In recent months we’ve been busy either building new rural cabinets or upgrading many of our VDSL rural cabinets with a technology called vectoring. When this work is completed in mid-2018, it means more homes and businesses will be able to access VDSL. If you’re already on VDSL, it means you’ll be able to experience even faster speeds. Our broadband checker is regularly updated so keep checking in to see if you can get VDSL as a result of our upgrades.

ADSL – if your property is between 2km – 4km from our nearest cabinet, the best broadband service available on our copper network will be ADSL. Our ADSL broadband is congestion free so if you’re on an unlimited data cap and within a reasonable distance from the nearest cabinet, you should receive a pretty good experience. For example, if you can get 10Mbps on ADSL and you have unlimited data, you’ll be able to stream TV and web browse at the same time.

Fixed wireless or satellite broadband – despite all of the recent advancements, there are still parts of rural New Zealand whose only realistic option for broadband is satellite or relatively slow ADSL. If you live more than 4km away from the nearest cabinet and are getting less than 5Mbps on ADSL, it’s likely you won’t be enjoying a consistently reliable experience on our network. If this is the case, you might want to consider fixed wireless or satellite broadband options. With high latency and data caps, it’s worth noting that the performance of fixed wireless broadband can be highly variable. TrueNet has been measuring the latency rates of the different types of broadband available in New Zealand, it’s worth a read.

Satellite broadband is another option that can provide similar broadband speeds to ADSL. There are a number of providers offering this service. Farmside or Wireless Nation are a good place to start.

Getting decent broadband to the last few percent of New Zealand’s population is a challenge that is hard to solve simply because it becomes extraordinarily expensive to provide connectivity to relatively few people. But we are up for the challenge, and open to a variety of ways to solving the economic issues. In some cases that might mean additional community funding, it might be other kinds of subsidies, or it could be collaborating with other providers who work with other types of technology. We think everyone should be able to have access to affordable high quality broadband and we are continually thinking about ways to do that, as are many other people, including the Government.

To find out more about your options and what’s available at your place check out https://www.askforbetter.co.nz/

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