Our bid for better broadband Fourteen Coromandel Peninsula communities have been selected for the installation of Ultra-Fast Broadband fibre cable, with the build starting in Thames in 2017 and then working progressively around the district in a clock-wise direction until scheduled completion in 2022. This will give households and businesses in these 14 communities the potential to connect to much faster broadband than is currently available. Telecommunications company Chorus has confirmed timings for its programme to roll out UFB across the country. Here's the schedule for our communities as of May 2020: Thames - COMPLETE Hahei - COMPLETE Te Puru - COMPLETE Coromandel Town - COMPLETE Kuaotunu - COMPLETE Matatoki - COMPLETE Tapu - COMPLETE Whangapoua - COMPLETE Waiomu - completion scheduled for second half 2020 Matarangi - completion scheduled for second half 2020 Whitianga - completion scheduled for second half 2020 Ferry Landing/Cooks Beach - completion scheduled for first half 2021 Whangamata - completion scheduled for second half 2021 Tairua-Pauanui - completion scheduled for first half 2022 Our Mayor Sandra Goudie welcomes the update and says it's good news for households and businesses in these areas, giving them potential to connect to much faster broadband than is currently available. "We would still like to have seen areas such as Hot Water Beach included on this list and we will continue to lobby for its inclusion because it's a huge visitor destination and needs to be given priority," Mayor Sandra says, "Faster broadband is important to meet anticipated growth in data consumption and to help stimulate economic development across the region." In communities such as Whitianga, which had a major town centre upgrade that was finished in 2019, Chorus worked with our contractors to ensure that ducting was laid while the upgrade was taking place to ensure that when it comes time to install UFB recently laid concrete and tarmac are not dug up again. Our Council had to compete with every other council in New Zealand for consideration in the UFB programme to have UFB installed and we lobbied for our larger communities to be selected. In 2017, the Government announced more communities would be included and that the original build schedule would be accelerated. Parts of the Coromandel will also benefit from Phase Two of the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) and the Mobile Black Spots Fund. See the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website for more information on its faster broadband initiatives. RBI Phase One brought faster broadband to quite a few areas of the Coromandel through a combination of fixed-line upgrades and new fixed wireless coverage, for example cellphone masts. The Government hasn't specified a specific technology for phase two, so these could more of what was delivered in phase one as well as wireless point-to-point radio links and 4G-based cellular radio technology. The Government's August 2017 announcement did not specify which communities will receive improved rural broadband, but 70,000 rural households and businesses are the nationwide target, including more than 9,000 in the Waikato. The Coromandel will benefit from the Mobile Black Spots Fund, which is intended to improve mobile phone coverage on sections of state highway and in more remote tourist areas. A section of the Kopu-Hikuai Road (SH25A) is slated to receive new mobile coverage as are the Coromandel Coastal Walkway and Port Charles. For more on the Government's broadband plans, go to the Crown Fibre Holdings website. Crown Fibre Holdings Ltd is the Crown-owned company established to manage the Government's fast broadband programmes. It has partnered with telecommunications companies such as Chorus, Spark, Vodafone and others to build the infrastructure. The Rural Connectivity Group The Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) has been established to build the infrastructure required to deliver both rural broadband and mobile services to those rural communities that are currently without a service. The infrastructure built under the programme will be operated and maintained by the RCG, however, all retail services will be provided by the mobile network operators – Vodafone, Spark, 2degrees. The RCG is tasked with building a minimum of 400 new sites across rural New Zealand by 20 December 2022. With the help of rural land owners, Councils, Iwi, Doc, the Crown and anyone else willing to assist, the plan is to build many more sites than this. The RCG is very focused on taking the coverage as far as possible into rural NZ. The areas within our district that the RCG has identified as target areas are: Te Mata, Waitete Bay, Port Charles, Waitaia Bay, Kaimarama, Coroglen, Opoutere, Otama Beach, Kuaotunu, Kennedy Bay, Papa Aroha, Little Bay, Kopu and Tapu. Our Council is also urging the RCG to add Hot Water Beach to this list. Communities are encouraged to work with the RCG to see as many of these areas as possible provided with coverage. If you have ideas of how you can help please contact Caitlin.Metz@theRCG.nz Interested in 5G? Some people have expressed concerns regarding cell sites and new telecommunications technologies such as '5G'. Visit our Community concerns with cellphone sites and technologies web page for more information. The Ministry of Health and the Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor websites both have fact-based information about 5G and its roll-out in New Zealand. The big picture The Coromandel is an ideal place to live and work. In fact over 50% of our residents don't live full time on the Peninsula; many of our "non-permanent" population holiday here as well as work from home while they're away from the office - so they, like our permanent residents, really need good broadband speeds. The Government has two programmes designed to provide fast broadband to 97.8% of New Zealanders: Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) and the Rural-Broadband Initiative (RBI). More than $2 billion has been earmarked for these two programmes, including the $510m committed to the RBI and UFB programme extensions. Chorus is in charge of delivering improvements to the fixed-line broadband infrastructure, and is in the process of updating its cabinets to accommodate fast internet speeds. Vodafone has the contracts in the Coromandel to upgrade or build new telecommunications towers that can deliver fast wireless broadband. Other Internet Service Providers (ISPs), such as Spark, co-locate on these towers for a charge to service their customers. A Hamilton-based company called Lightwire has its own system of towers in the Waikato that can deliver fast broadband in rural location and another firm, Farmside, offers a similar service. "A new, faster broadband service is vital for our economic growth as it makes the Coromandel a much more attractive place to live and to work" Check your UFB and RBI coverage and upgrade to broadband Find out if your place has RBI or UFB or when it will. Check the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's website for more details on UFB and RBI. Check Chorus for more details on their fixed-line broadband upgrades and check Spark, Vodafone, Lightwire and Farmside for their broadband coverage and to order a broadband plan, whether fixed-line or wireless, so you can spend more time at the bach working and playing from home! "We also want our non-permanent population to be able to spend more time over here, and RBI will make it easier to have long weekends working remotely, while enjoying all the Coromandel has to offer" What can affect broadband speeds: Distance from the fibre-fed cabinet on the copper line to your home or business. Broadband can only be delivered over copper for about 5-6km from a fibre-fed exchange or cabinet. Time of day - peak demand times mean slower download/upload speeds. Broadband plan - check your provider for what your data allowance is - you may need to boost it. Modem - older models won't deliver faster speeds, even if they're available in your area. Check your Internet Service Provider to confirm if your modem is an issue. Wiring in your house or business premises. Older wiring was not installed to deliver good internet speeds. Consider adding filters to all jackpoints used to deliver phone-based services or consider a dedicated line from the street into yyour premises straight to where your modem is. Hardware and software: older computers affect broadband performance. Regularly update your internet browser, clean out old software, delete cookies and internet browser history, update security software. Using a Wi-Fi router can affect broadband speed, especially if your computer or device is far from the router and walls are in the way.