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Wairarapa Councils Connect for Joint Broadband Bid

The three Wairarapa councils will work together in a new initiative to bid for a slice of the $350 million up for grabs in the government’s Rural Broadband, UltraFast Broadband and Mobile Blackspot funding.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said it was obvious for the councils to work together on this project to maximise the benefits for the whole of the Wairarapa.

“The WAIConnect project is a really exciting opportunity for us,” she explained.

“It means that we can share the costs of resources required to put the bid together and allows us to develop a cohesive plan for the region. It also means we improve the economies of scale, which makes the Wairarapa a more attractive option for suppliers of broadband, wireless and cellphone services.”

The Mayors’ vision for the region is universal access to the internet at speeds that maximise opportunities for increased productivity for businesses and allow for greater connectedness in the community.

Carterton Mayor John Booth said Carterton is the fastest-growing town in New Zealand, but still lacks UltraFast connections.

“That’s our priority for Carterton,” he said. “We are experiencing tremendous population growth and the challenge for us is to ensure that we have everything in place to service our residents, as well as attracting new businesses to the district.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples says the Wairarapa has many attractive residential options for people who wanted to work from home.

“Better coverage and improved internet speeds would undoubtedly increase the number of people wanting to set up businesses or live in the Wairarapa,” she said. “There are also some mobile blackspot areas of real concern in places such as Greytown, which really impacts on commerce.”

The three Mayors say the joint WAIConnect project team of six people will be talking to the community about their priorities and possible opportunities.

“We have to ensure that the bid meets the needs of our communities,” added Mayor Patterson. “This is especially important for our rural residents, as you don’t have to travel very far out of town before losing cellphone reception.”

WAIConnect Facts
1. Joint bid must be submitted by 3rd July
2. A regional digital enablement plan must be submitted in September
3. The Wairarapa will be competing against other councils for a slice of the funding
4. UltraFast Broadband UFB fund is up to $210 million
5. Rural Broadband initiative is $100 million
6. Mobile Blackspot fund is $50 million
7. The project has been called WAIConnect
8. There is a facebook page for updates
9. Twitter #tag #Waiconnect @waiconnect

20 April 2015

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