Communications Minister Simon Bridges says 31 per cent of New Zealanders with access to Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) are now connected, up 13 per cent in the last three months.
The December 2016 Quarterly Broadband Update released today shows the number of households, business, schools and hospitals connected to UFB has increased from 288,790 to 327,864 since September 2016.
“It’s fantastic to see more and more Kiwis getting on board with UFB. The Government invested in fibre to catalyse uptake and the level of demand so far has been strong, with New Zealand boasting the second highest growth rate for fibre subscriptions in the OECD,” Mr Bridges says.
Today’s update also shows that deployment of the first phase of the UFB programme is 71 per cent complete, with 21 towns now fully fibred. This means more than 1,060,000 New Zealand households and businesses are now able to access download speeds of up to 1000 Megabits per second.
The extension to the UFB programme, which was announced at the end of January, will see another 423,000 New Zealanders able to access fibre by the end of 2024 across a further 151 towns.
“By the end of 2024, more than 84 per cent of New Zealanders will have access to UFB fibre under both phases of the Government’s UFB programme.
“Access to fast and reliable internet helps create an environment for economic growth – it’s critical to helping businesses and communities right across New Zealand thrive,” Mr Bridges says.
Alongside the UFB programme, the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is continuing to deliver faster broadband to priority users and rural communities outside of UFB areas.
“Over 300,000 rural households and businesses are now able to access faster broadband of over five Megabits per second.
“The Government is focused on continuing to improve broadband service in more rural and remote areas through the second phase of RBI, and improving mobile coverage on state highways and in tourism locations with the Mobile Black Spot Fund,” Mr Bridges says.
A Request for Proposals for $150 million in funding for phase two of RBI and the Mobile Black Spot Fund closes on 3 April 2017.
The Quarterly Broadband Update is compiled and released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Further information about the Government’s UFB and RBI programmes is available at http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/technology-communications/fast-broadband/documents-image-library/dec-16-quarterly-broadband-deployment-update.pdf.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the indicative route announced today for a new motorway between Auckland and Northland is a significant step forward in improving travel between the two regions.
The Indicative Route shows the progress being made in developing the Government’s Warkworth to Wellsford section of the Pūhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance.
“Improving this road is part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring transport infrastructure is in place to connect communities, get people to places of work and freight to key export markets, which are all vital in helping Northland’s economy grow,” Mr Bridges says.
“It will reduce the overall travel time between Warkworth and Te Hana by bypassing town centres, and avoiding the steep and winding Dome Valley.
“The straighter road alignment will also reduce the high crash rate through this area and reduce congestion and frustrations for motorists that often get stuck behind slow moving heavy vehicles.”
The Indicative Route is predicted to reduce the current number of deaths and serious injuries by 80 per cent.
The motorway which travels west of Warkworth and east of both Wellsford and Te Hana, connecting back to State Highway 1 north of Mangawhai Road will also provide ongoing benefits for local communities.
Once built, trucks and heavy vehicles will be diverted around townships, reducing around 90 per cent of through traffic and making them safer for local road users while reducing noise and pollution.
Three interchanges will connect the motorway with Warkworth, Wellsford at Wayby Valley Road and Te Hana at Mangawhai Road.
The Indicative Route will be shared with the public for their feedback which will help further refine the route. A series of public information days will be held starting on 18 February.
The Transport Agency will seek to protect the route for future construction by applying for consents by 2018.
More information is available at www.nzta.govt.nz/warkworth-wellsford.
Excavators have moved on-site and physical work will begin next week clearing the large slips on State Highway 1 to the north of Kaikoura, Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced today.
“This is good news not only for Kaikoura but also the rest of New Zealand as we begin to rebuild the road and rail networks that are critical to supporting our economy, to keeping these communities connected and boosting the prosperity of this region,” Mr Bridges says.
Over the last two months, engineers and work crews have been sluicing the slips by helicopter, making the sites safe for machinery and workers to move on-site, and doing the planning necessary to ensure that rapid progress is made once on-site work begins.
“Throughout this process the team has developed a work programme that will protect the environment and cultural values of the area, while ensuring that we can deliver a more resilient and safer transport network,” Mr Bridges says.
“I understand that people have been anxious to see this work get underway, and I’m confident that we will see strong progress in the weeks ahead as crews work both from the north and south to clear the slips and make each site safe for the rebuild to begin.”
Equipment has been moved on-site at Irongate, about 1km north of Blue Duck Road and at the slip site 300m north of Ohau Point.
It is expected to take about three weeks to clear the Irongate slip and make it safe to build an access road around the site. This will then enable the excavator to move north, building access tracks around three other slips to reach Ohau Point.
Construction of these tracks will also open up some limited access for residents at Rakautara, who have been isolated between the slips since November.
Slip clearance is expected to get underway within the next few weeks at Ohau Point, one of the biggest and most complex of the nine significant slips along this section of SH1.
Helicopter sluicing will continue on the remainder of the large slips, making these safe for clearance work to begin as soon as practical.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges today confirmed details of the Government’s new approach to regulating fixed line communications services from 2020, and released a consultation paper which seeks feedback on the regulation of the copper network.
“We need a modern communications regime that reflects our increasingly digital world and that delivers better broadband for New Zealanders,” Mr Bridges says.
“The new regime is designed to provide long-term certainty for the sector, and to support ongoing innovation and investment. Ultimately, this will result in better services for consumers, with consistently improving broadband speeds and quality at competitive prices.”
In July 2016 the Government released an options paper which set out the details of the new ‘utility-style’ regime for fixed line communications services provided on the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network and Chorus’ copper network.
“We received a range of feedback from industry and consumer groups about how the new regime would work in practice and can now confirm the details of our reform package for the UFB network, which will be implemented from 2020,” Mr Bridges says.
“Following further consideration and analysis we have decided to take a different approach to the regulation of copper services, and focus the new regulations primarily on New Zealand’s fibre network. We’re seeking feedback on this proposal and on changes to the Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO) through the consultation document released today.”
In areas where UFB or other fibre is available, the Government is proposing to deregulate the copper network from 2020 and remove the TSO obligation.
In areas where UFB or other fibre is not available, the TSO obligation will be retained and Chorus will be required to continue supplying copper services at prices capped at 2019 levels. This will ensure consumers continue to have access to basic services at competitive prices, even when alternative networks are not available.
Submissions on the consultation paper close on 3 March 2017. For more detail and to make a submission visit www.mbie.govt.nz/telcoreview.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the opening of two temporary bridges on the alternate state highway route between Picton and Christchurch will improve safety and reduce travel times while repairs to State Highway 1 are underway.
The new Bailey bridges (temporary steel structures) have been installed alongside permanent one-way bridges at Upper Buller and Homestead Creek west of St Arnaud, allowing traffic to flow safely in both directions at all times.
This will eliminate delays from waiting to use the single-lane bridges at these two locations, keeping all traffic moving.
“The alternate state highway route has been coping with a significant increase in traffic volumes since the November 14 Kaikoura earthquake. This is putting the road under a good deal of strain, and providing duplicate bridges at these three pinch points will help to improve safety and reduce delays for everyone using the road,” Mr Bridges says.
“While work is continuing at pace to restore State Highway 1 between Picton and Christchurch, it’s vital we ensure that people can travel safely on the alternate route through Murchison and the Lewis Pass.
“Installing these new bridges is part of the Transport Agency’s broader programme of work to ensure the alternate route can stay open and safely cope with the extra traffic it is carrying while work continues on State Highway 1.”
A third duplicate Bailey bridge has also been installed at Speargrass Creek, and will open to traffic later this month.
State Highway 1 is expected to be restored within the next 12 months.
For more information, visit: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/kaikoura-earthquake-response/
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says building better cycling infrastructure remains a priority for the Government as today’s national Go by Bike Day event demonstrates the increased demand.
Mr Bridges joined the hundreds of people who took part in the annual Go by Bike Day event at the Wellington waterfront today with similar events held all over the country.
“Here in Wellington and right around New Zealand demand for cycling is high and growing. For example in the last 10 years the number of people commuting by bike in the capital has more than doubled,” Mr Bridges says.
“Bikes are increasingly the vehicles of choice for a number of New Zealanders and visitors. In response to this demand making cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice is a key priority for Government.
“That’s why we’re investing $333 million through the Urban Cycleways Programme, the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.”
In total, the Programme is funding 54 projects, across 22 local authorities in 16 urban centres. It will deliver approximately 300 kilometres of cycling facilities.
“Since completing the first cycleway in Palmerston North in 2015, we’re over 40 per cent of the way through delivering the Urban Cycleways Programme.
“We’re also investing in Bikes in Schools to enhance delivery of the cycleway programme and make cycling more accessible for school children. So far we have contributed to 30 urban schools, reaching nearly 10,000 students.”
More information about the Urban Cycleways Programme can be found at: www.nzta.govt.nz/UCP.
The Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway is scheduled to open this month, four months ahead of the original scheduled completion date of June 2017, Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced.
The Expressway is a $630 million, 18km four-lane expressway along the Kāpiti Coast, and includes 18 bridges and 16km of walking and cycle ways.
“An early opening this month is a great outcome for the Kāpiti Coast community and the wider region as a whole. In just a few weeks’ time this connection will open to deliver smoother and safer journeys for everyone,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway will result in faster and more reliable journeys through the region, as well as making this stretch of road safer for all road users, and improving the Kāpiti Coast’s resilience to major weather events like those we’ve recently experienced.
“This modern new road will also support the region’s economy. Reduced and more reliable travel times to and from Wellington will make Kāpiti a more desirable place to live and do business.”
The community will be invited to a Kāpiti Coast ExpressDay which will be a chance for people to experience the Expressway before it is opened to traffic. More details will be available closer to the time.
The Expressway is part of the Wellington Northern Corridor, which stretches from Wellington Airport to just north of Levin. The Wellington Northern Corridor is one of the Government’s Roads of National Significance, identified as key to economic growth.
A completion event will be held on Thursday 16 February with the road opening to traffic later this month.
A new online tool will make it easy for businesses and decision makers to access a rich set of data on the performance New Zealand’s industrial sectors, Minister for Economic Development Simon Bridges says.
Launched today, the New Zealand Sectors Dashboard provides the latest available data on twenty-six different sectors covering the whole economy, from the primary industries, manufacturing and services sectors to government, education and health.
‘The New Zealand economy is diverse and dynamic. Strong GDP and job growth, together with the impact of technology, is driving change in every sector. This tool draws on 53 datasets from Statistics New Zealand and other sources,” Mr Bridges says.
Data includes GDP, productivity and job growth rates by sector, as well as median incomes, capital investment, innovation and research and development rates and much more.
“The dashboard is a comprehensive, easy-to-use interactive resource that unlocks a huge range of data for businesses, entrepreneurs and analysts enabling them to keep track of sector trends and visualise opportunities for new investment and job creation,” Mr Bridges says.
Information is presented using dynamic graphs and data tables so users can easily look at trends in sector performance, with comparisons to the New Zealand average or with other sectors.
The Sectors Dashboard complements the Tourism Dashboard and the Regional Economic Activity Tools.
International Safer Internet Day is a reminder for all New Zealanders to focus on staying safe online,” Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.
Safer Internet Day promotes safe and positive use of technology – particularly for children and young people. It is part of an international campaign involving more than 100 countries, and is coordinated in New Zealand by NetSafe.
“Connect Smart research reveals that one in five New Zealanders have experienced cyber crime. This includes damage from a virus or malware, hacking of a social media or bank account, receiving a phishing email, having your system locked down by ransomware or being the victim of an online scam or fraud,” Mr Bridges says.
Seventy per cent of New Zealanders own a smart phone or Internet connected mobile device and increasingly it is the most popular way for New Zealanders to access the Internet.
“More than 90 per cent of people aged 18-34 have a smart phone. At the start of a new year, it is timely to check that we are using technology safely,” Mr Bridges says.
“There are basic steps that can make a big difference in improving our online security and research shows that New Zealanders are now more inclined to stop and think before clicking on links and attachments in emails. Connect Smart research shows 94 per cent of people are now doing so.
“Safer Internet Day is a reminder to all to continue to be aware of potential cyber risks.”
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges will attend the opening of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s Australia and New Zealand headquarters in Melbourne tomorrow.
“Alibaba Group is the world’s largest online and mobile marketplace and presents an enormous opportunity for New Zealand exporters to sell their products into the huge China market,” Mr Bridges says.
“China is our second-biggest trading partner after Australia and we have all witnessed the rise of e-commerce platforms globally, but few countries have embraced e-commerce with the gusto shown by Chinese consumers.
“In the last year, China’s e-commerce retail sales have grown 37 per cent versus 11.3 per cent in standard retail; mobile commerce sales have grown 123 per cent; and 50 per cent of the population are yet to access the internet.
“With a population size of 1.4 billion and growing recognition and demand for Western brands, it is clear that e-commerce presents significant opportunities for our exporters. Alibaba is a key gateway to taking advantage of this,” Mr Bridges says.
The opening of the Australia and New Zealand headquarters follows last year’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Alibaba Group which formalised discussions for strengthening trade between China and New Zealand.