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The Government is committed to making New Zealand’s communications network one of the best in the world, Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.

Minister Bridges spoke at the 2017 Rural Connectivity Symposium in Wellington today.

“In 2009 the internet in New Zealand was slow, and many people didn’t have adequate access at all – particularly in rural areas,” Mr Bridges says.

“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Over 1.1 million households and businesses can now connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband, and over one-third of those are already connected.

“In addition to this, over 90 per cent of the population outside of Ultra-Fast Broadband areas – over 300,000 rural households and businesses – can access new or improved broadband.

“Our target for connectivity is that by 2025, 99 per cent of New Zealanders will be able to access peak download speeds of 50 Megabits per second or better, and the remaining one per cent able to access at least 10 Megabits per second.

“Rural connectivity is a core part of the Government’s plan to support our regional economies and our target reflects this – it’s about ensuring that all New Zealanders can take advantage of the benefits of improved connectivity,” Mr Bridges says.

Speaking at the Symposium, Minister Bridges outlined the Government’s objectives for the next phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative, and the Mobile Black Spot Fund.

“These programmes focus on improving broadband services in more rural and remote areas, and improving mobile coverage on stretches of State Highway and in tourism locations which do not currently have coverage from any mobile operator.

“Achieving the 2025 targets will require both private and public sector input, so I’m especially pleased by the strong engagement and response to the tender process for these programmes.

“The process was designed to be as accessible as possible so that respondents both large and small could propose creative solutions, and the bids certainly demonstrate this,” Mr Bridges says.

Crown Fibre Holdings is currently reviewing the proposals received and announcements about where deployment will occur will be made once commercial negotiations are completed.

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