Following the success of the first phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), (completed in 2016), which originally saw new and improved broadband capability commissioned for over 300,000 rural households and businesses across New Zealand, in 2017 Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) followed up with the next phase in their plan to improve rural broadband access, Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 (RBI2). In this second phase of the RBI, CIP identified a further 90,000 under-served rural households and businesses and set the target of enhancing broadband capacity to 99.8% of New Zealand’s population by 2023.
Telecommunication partners like Lightwire were sought to help address the unique connectivity challenges many of these 90,000 remote properties faced. As a regional Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP), Lightwire is well-placed to reach many of these difficult-to-connect areas and was selected as one of nine regional WISPs to partner with CIP under the RBI2 programme to extend broadband access across the wider Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.
The initiative has been a great success and the government has continued to expand the project. The RBI2 expansion builds on the original RBI2 contract and includes provision for extending broadband access to another 10,000 under-served rural households and businesses. Following Lightwire’s success with RBI2, Lightwire’s contract with CIP was extended under RBI2 expansion to provide new or upgraded wireless broadband services for hundreds of additional rural households and businesses across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. More specifically under the RBI2 Expansion, Lightwire has been tasked with building 30 new rural broadband towers to connect some of the most remote, isolated, and under-served communities in New Zealand.
Lightwire’s expanded RBI2 roll out is progressing well. Since the beginning of the RBI2 expansion contract, we’ve undertaken several major upgrades network-wide, improving connectivity for hundreds of existing Lightwire customers and providing new broadband connectivity options to a number of difficult to reach communities near Pukehina, Waihi and Puriri. Several new towers near Te Kuiti, Oparau and Waerenga have recently been commissioned. Over the next 18 months, we’re on track to deliver dozens of new towers from the rolling hills around Waitomo and spanning the rugged west coast from Owhiro to Port Waikato along with many other remote communities Waikato and Bay of Plenty wide.
Our towers coming online over the next quarter are near Raglan, Te Uku, Makomako and Eureka – If you live in these areas keep an eye on the surrounding hills and if you see a new tower pop up get in touch.