Photo by Chris Roberts - Amuri NetHeartland Connectivity
A large representative group of regional wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs), electricity lines companies and interested organisations has expressed support for the government’s launch of the next round of the Rural Broadband Initiative.
The group met last week to discuss innovative solutions to rural connectivity using the local knowledge and expertise of regional companies, working collaboratively with mainstream telcos.
The group was especially heartened by Minister Adams’ encouragement of bids from network operators “regardless of size.” This was seen as affirmation that local operators will be seen as realistic contenders.
There are at least 30 significant WISPs in various parts of New Zealand who collectively have tens of thousands of customers. In the past they have operated independently, but they are in the process of forming themselves into a formal industry group to ensure their interests are taken seriously by policy makers. Wireless technology is advancing hugely. WISP operators, with their intimate local knowledge of topography and their local relationships are extremely well placed to offer high quality, fast, affordable service to many parts of regional New Zealand.
Similarly electric lines companies are uniquely placed to use their existing electricity corridors to get city grade ultra fast broadband into every place where there is electricity, on a very cost-effective basis. If as widely anticipated parliament legislates to remove legal hurdles that inhibit fibre being added to power lines across private property, in return for the landowner receiving a fibre connection, a very cost-effective opportunity will be opened up for both local connections and backhaul services.
Putting together the capabilities of the WISPs and the lines companies creates an outstanding opportunity to get fibre, supplemented by wireless broadband, to even the most remote homes and businesses and over time, make the existing copper lines redundant.