Central Otago is one step closer to the future with the rollout of ultra-fast broadband (UFB) taking shape.
Chorus had released a schedule of installation dates for UFB in Central Otago and work had begun in Cromwell, communications manager Nathan Beaumont said.
Wanaka and Lake Hawea were next.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said some communities faced a wait of up to three years before UFB was available, so the installation schedule allowed them to plan what to do in the meantime.
The council had helped by granting leases for land for microwave towers giving individuals and businesses faster broadband than previously available, albeit at a slightly higher cost, Mr Cadogan said.
It would be a “great day” when the rollout was completed but “for some parts of Central Otago that day’s a long way away”, he said.
“I have talked to some folk who were doing a lot of data transfer, a lot of video images and so forth. They find it particularly difficult and obviously we don’t want people like that not to come to this area because of the restrictions on the broadband.”
Comments he had received from businesses included that speeds were generally fine until about 3.30pm “and then the bottom falls out of it because the kids are coming home from school, and they are firing up their laptops”.
School holidays were similarly challenging.
Central Otago District Council economic development manager Warwick Hawker said cloud computing was being used by many businesses now and a good broadband connection was required to use online accounting programmes.
Greater connectivity for Alexandra and the surrounding region was welcomed by the chief executive of the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST), Steve Cotter.
“One of the cornerstones of CSST is to support regional economic development, and we have seen, both here in New Zealand and abroad, that improved internet connectivity spurs innovation and economic growth,” Mr Cotter said.
Mr Beaumont said that, on average, New Zealand households were consuming more than 200 gigabytes of data per month, which was a “huge increase” on an average of 13GB used in 2011.
“We’re forecasting average monthly data usage of 680GB per household by 2020 based on historical growth rates.”
The fibre infrastructure being installed was a solution for 50-plus years, Mr Beaumont said.
“Today, it supports gigabit speeds to the home; in the future it can be easily upgraded to support even faster speeds by simply replacing the electronics – the box in your home and the box in the local exchange.”
Residents would be contacted via mail-drops when work was due to begin on their streets, Mr Beaumont said.
Ultrafast broadband rollout:
Wanaka-Lake Hawea Sept 2018
Alexandra Aug 2019
Luggate Nov 2019
Cromwell-Pisa Moorings Jan 2020
Bannockburn April 2020
Naseby June 2020
Arrowtown-Lake Hayes Estate Aug 2020
Omakau March 2021
Ranfurly March 2021
Arthurs Point June 2021
Jacks Point Oct 2021