Vodafone and Farmside supporting rural New Zealanders with new connectivity options
RBI2 Unlimited Broadband trial complements a turbocharged network investment program to build and upgrade digital infrastructure in regional and rural Aotearoa
As Fieldays gets started, Vodafone is proud to offer rural Aotearoa new connectivity options including trialling a RBI2 Unlimited Broadband service for people who live in the second Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) area.
This comes as Vodafone ramps up network investments to expand its regional coverage footprint around Aotearoa, and as part of the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) to build more cell towers in rural New Zealand under the RBI2 program.
This three-month RBI2 Unlimited Broadband trial sees Farmside, Vodafone’s rural broadband specialist, offer unlimited wireless broadband* for $79.99 a month to households within the geographical RBI2 area, with the trial also open to wireless internet service providers (WISPs) as part of Vodafone’s wholesale agreements.
Ralph Brayham, Vodafone NZ’s acting Consumer & SME Director, says: “Increasing digital inclusion and closing the rural-urban digital divide in Aotearoa is incredibly important, and we want to offer affordable data services to more New Zealanders. This involves delivering great connectivity to rural New Zealanders by selling broadband services via Farmside as well as providing wholesale services to WISPs.
“Throughout 2020, with Covid-19 making the internet essential to work and learn remotely, data use increased by 56% on the Vodafone network. Following the explosion of data use via applications such as Netflix, YouTube and Zoom, we’ve been upgrading the Vodafone network across urban and regional Aotearoa, plus working with the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) in country areas.
“To provide rural customers with access to more data while also protecting the network for all users, last year Farmside launched new innovative products including unlimited daytime data boosters which have been really well received.
“There is spare network capacity in a number of the recently built Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) cell sites, so we are trialling an unlimited RBI2 broadband service for $79.99 a month, launching at Fieldays. We’ll be reaching out to households in certain geographical areas to let them know if their address can connect to RBI2 broadband and access unlimited anytime data. We’ll then assess whether we can offer unlimited RBI2 data plans longer-term.”
RBI2 seeks to provide fast broadband to the greatest number of under-served rural homes and businesses within the funding available. In August 2017, the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) was appointed by the government to bring more 4G mobile and wireless broadband coverage to rural New Zealand - and has just passed the milestone of 250 cell sites built under this program.
RBI2 is separate from the RBI1, which was completed in June 2016 and included 154 new cell towers delivered by Vodafone.
The two initiatives (RBI1 and RBI2) have different capacity constraints, and are delivered under different operating models, which relates to the range of services Vodafone can provide to its customers.
*Fair use policy applies, as per customer terms & conditions. Trial ends 30 September 2021, after which date Vodafone will determine if the RBI2 Unlimited Broadband plan can continue and/or be extended. Customer numbers are limited within the trial period.