A 55km Cable to Nowhere has been laid between Wairoa and Tuai to apparently serve just one company, while in many other regions there is limited rural internet access, says Labour ICT spokesperson Clare Curran.
“Genesis Energy has been the sole recipient of an incredibly long length of fibre. It is especially concerning when the local school at Tuai has been unable to qualify for funding to get the software to make use of the new bandwidth even if it had the money to get connected.
“It raises serious questions about the Government’s rural broadband priorities, when many other areas have worryingly low internet access. According to council surveys, in places like Huntly just 44 per cent of households have access to the internet, 51 per cent in Tuakau and 50 per cent in Taumarunui.
“In Clutha it costs $100,000 to connect because a transmission cable was run through the region, not a connecting cable.
“In Kawerau both main schools have complained that very few of their students have the internet at home, due to cost and access issues. Their students are being held back.
“This is regional neglect on a grand scale. National’s spin on rural broadband has been exposed.
“The RBI is a shambles. Last week the Government changed the rules in the middle of the tender process for the next round, requiring councils to stump up money to go higher up the list. And yesterday Amy Adams sacked the ministry responsible for the delivery – MBIE – and replaced it with Crown Fibre Holdings.
“Over $300 million has already been spent by National on a rural broadband scheme that has subsidised commercial networks but delivered little real value for most of New Zealand. The next round of $100 million is unlikely to deliver significant change at this rate.
“The Government needs to front up on the failings of its broadband schemes and devise workable and funded plans to deliver 21st Century connectivity to urban and rural New Zealanders this decade not the next,” says Clare Curran.