Delivering critical rural internet connectivity in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty

Melissa Slattery leads a busy life, and connectivity is at the heart of it.

The Waikato farmer and businesswoman is the new chair of DairyNZ’s Dairy Environment Leaders programme, is an associate with a local chartered accountant firm, and together with husband Justin, own and operate a 300 cow, 106ha dairy farm near Te Aroha.

Like many other rural residents and businesspeople,  access to reliable internet with high speed and loads of data is crucial in Melissa’s daily life.

To help her meet her broadband needs, Melissa has used Lightwire for the last three years.

“The Lightwire broadband connection on the farm is comparable with what’s available in the office in town,” says Melissa. “I’ve recommended Lightwire to others, and while not everyone has been in range, that is improving as the coverage increases.”

Improved broadband access a key outcome for farmers’  from next Government

Unfortunately, a recent DairyNZ survey of farmers showed half of all respondents didn’t have the broadband or mobile reception they need to run their businesses effectively.

The survey results produced 10 different policy priorities for the incoming Government – one of which was to see more investment in rural broadband and improved mobile coverage for rural communities.

Lightwire is  investing in rural broadband and improved mobile coverage

Lightwire continues to address this need as an official rural broadband partner of Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP), the government agency running the Rural Broadband Initiative – Phase 2 project (RBI2).

The goal of the RBI2 project is to provide broadband to 99.8% of all New Zealanders by 2021. After successfully completing the second phase in June this year, Lightwire has been rewarded with a project extension.

To date, RBI2 has helped Lightwire bring its  total network to close to 7,000 customers across rural Waikato and BOP. In turn, it’s expanded the company’s coverage areas, improving its  customer service capacity, and assisting the growth of its  innovative wireless technology.

The extension will see the Hamilton-based company provide wireless broadband to an additional 287 remote households, which are some of the hardest to reach in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions.

This will be the first time these households will have access to wireless broadband which is crucial as farming is becoming increasingly digital, with higher levels of compliance demanding easy, on-the-go software solutions and fast, reliable, rural broadband.

Running a modern-day farm business requires modern-day technology

Traditionally, farm data was written down and passed to someone else to enter, creating a lot of double handling. A reliable, rural broadband connection means data can be input from the get-go, freeing up time and resource down the line.

In addition, COVID-19 has been a timely reminder of the importance of digital connectivity in the modern world for both remote working opportunities, as well as social interaction.

Lightwire’s Head of Rural, Mike Cook, says rural communities are expecting the same level of coverage and capability from their broadband connections that their urban counterparts enjoy.

Lightwire trends

Lightwire’s 2019 customer survey showed that people living in rural communities use the internet in the same way as people living in urban areas, and seek out internet service providers, like Lightwire, which can provide that connectivity.

Survey results also showed that almost 50% of respondents chose Lightwire because of its ability to connect them when others could not.

“Ten years ago, if you were on a farm, it was a given that you’d struggle to get a decent broadband connection. Nowadays, rural communities expect reliable coverage to their homes and businesses and seek out internet service providers who can provide that connectivity,” says Cook.

Lightwire connects you where you need it

With a Lightwire connection, our rural installation options mean you can get functionality at your fingertips – from the house, to the cowshed, to the paddock.

We go where no other internet service providers can. Lightwire’s smart broadband solutions mean increased coverage in remote locations. Check if you’re in coverage at www.lightwire.co.nz