12 February 2021

First West Coast Chorus fibre enabled RCG site goes live.

Chorus and the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) are pleased to announce that the first West Coast fibre enabled cell site, called Fox West, has gone live.

Located along the Haast Highway 8kms west of Fox Glacier township, the site will provide 4G wireless broadband and mobile calling services to homes, businesses, the farming community across the area, and to approximately 20km of SH6 covering Haast Highway to the Cook River.

The Chorus fibre roll out, which is primarily Government funded from the Provincial Growth Fund will enable upgraded broadband services and provide backhaul to the RCG network along the West Coast route. The Fox Glacier to Lake Hawea link will create diversity in providing an alternative route to existing fibres and will also mean the Haast township is added to those getting Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB).

The roll out will also enable RCG to connect over 20 mobile cell sites from Fox Glacier to Haast in the Westland District Council area, and from Haast to Lake Hawea in the Otago region, to the Chorus fibre.

Funded under the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) and Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF) programmes, these sites will deliver 4G wireless broadband and 3G mobile services to over 400 homes and businesses, nearly 140km of State highway and 13 tourist hotspots.

Chorus CEO, JB Rousselot, is delighted to see Fox West come online and begin bringing greater digital connectivity to the West Coast.

“Chorus is pleased to partner with RCG in upgrading the telecommunications performance, capacity and resilience and bring West Coasters much improved phone and broadband services. Having seen the part communications infrastructure played during the Covid-19 lockdown, we are proud to be further supporting this investment regionally.

“The 250km of fibre running along the West Coast’s SH6 will provide additional resilience to our network, something we know will be welcomed in the region. From a health and safety perspective, this is a huge milestone in having reliable coverage as Kiwis traverse the beautiful coastal roads.

“We are also pleased that, as part of this work, fibre will be made available to Haast residents, adding to the hundreds of towns nationwide already able to connect to world-class, fast fibre broadband.

“This truly is a game changer for providing telecommunications services to the West Coast,” Mr Rousselot says.

RCG CEO, John Proctor, shares Mr Rousselot’s sentiment.

“We’re delighted to have livened RCG’s Fox West site. We’ve a significant build programme across the West Coast and Otago regions and livening this site marks the start of a vastly improved modern telecommunications network across the West Coast. We are very aware what this means to West Coasters and how eager they are for services to be delivered via our network.” he says.

“We know our network across rural New Zealand is making a huge difference to the daily lives of rural people by allowing reliable and fast access to the Internet. Now more than ever, a greater number of Kiwi’s are working, schooling, and running businesses from their rural homes. The feedback we have received from communities already benefiting from the RCG network is overwhelming as they can now complete tasks that most of us take for granted for example paying wages, ordering inventory, attending online meetings, and helping their children with homework. We’ve seen how rural Kiwi’s lives are transformed once they are able to connect.”

Once the Government Funded RBI2 programme is fully completed in 2023, approximately 84,000 rural homes and businesses will receive improved broadband. The Mobile Black Spot Fund programme will provide approximately 1,400 kms of state highway coverage and connectivity to 168 tourism sites across New Zealand.