Grandmother finds rural internet solution to improve her grandchildren’s access to education

Fran Awburn’s grandchildren needed online access to their correspondence school resources when they moved to Awburn’s property on Ellicotts Block last year. But, living rurally, that access was difficult.

Limited connectivity to the property in Puahue meant Awburn had unreliable internet service, so much so her grandchildren weren’t able to live chat with one computer going. “The connection would glitch continually while the kids were doing their standard programmes,” said Awburn. “My daughter had been successfully schooling my grandchildren via correspondence school and had never had any problems running the five programmes, along with the live web chats required, as part of their everyday school programme,” Awburn said.

“When they moved to our property it was incredibly frustrating to have poor connections and our existing provider had no solutions for us.”

Fortunately, Lightwire did!

Lightwire, a Waikato-based company that specialises in fast, reliable rural broadband connections, erected a repeater tower on the Awburn’s Puahue farm. “Our networks rely on line-of-site technology which means a property needs to have direct sight of a broadband tower to receive an internet connection,” explains Mike Cook, Lightwire Head of Rural. “Many rural locations struggle to have that so at Lightwire our field engineers will erect an intermediate repeater tower that relays the connection from one of our larger towers that are strategically located all over the Waikato and Bay of Plenty back to the customer.

“As it turned out, a peak on Fran and John’s property was the perfect spot for a repeater tower to be built,” he said.

The Awburn’s rallied around the community and got the support of another 10 families on Ellicott Block who wanted better broadband. Within a week, the Lightwire repeater tower was installed and Awburn’s grandchildren were enjoying the benefits of fast, reliable broadband.

“We were up and running almost straight away. And the great thing is, not only does it give my grandchildren easier access to their studies, but families further up the Block have the opportunity to hook in. Our next step is to get set up with Lightwire’s phone service.”

Cook says Lightwire is thrilled to have been able to play an instrumental part in providing the Puahue community with reliable internet.

“We’ve been pioneering rural broadband since 2002, innovating wireless technology and implementing solutions where there previously were none,” he says. “Our repeater towers are just one of the solutions we have developed that ensure previously isolated rural communities are supported and can now enjoy the same level of connectivity service that urban communities have.”

Cook says Lightwire’s mission to provide rural Waikato with better connectivity is in full swing, with upgrades to all 200+ sites and new site builds rolling out across the region.

Partnering with Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) in its Rural Broadband Initiative Phase Two (RBI2), Lightwire is proud to be part of the rollout bringing coverage to 99.8% of New Zealand’s population and providing innumerable benefits to its own rural communities.

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