Rural Connectivity Group liven their 200th site

26 February 2021

RCG liven 200 sites marking significant progress in the build of the new cellular network that’s getting rural New Zealanders connected.  

The Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) has livened their 200th site under the government funded Rural Broadband Initiative 2 (RBI2) and Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF) programmes. 

The 200th RCG site on air is located on farmland off Seafield Road, Puketapu, and is providing 4G wireless broadband and 4G mobile services from Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees to over 115 households in the Puketapu area. Livening the Seafield Road site takes the total number of operational RCG sites in the Hawkes Bay Region to twenty, with another eleven sites planned in the region by the end of the programme in December 2023.    

The twenty RCG live sites enable one thousand homes and business, over 50km of local State Highway and three tourism hotspots, previously with poor or no network connectivity, access to high-speed 4G wireless broadband and quality mobile coverage, across the Hastings, Central Hawkes Bay and Wairoa Council areas.

 “We’re delighted to have livened RCG’s Seafield Road site, making this our twentieth site in the Hawkes Bay region. We’ve a substantial build programme with a total of 31 sites of our 500 cell sites located here.” Says John Proctor, CEO of RCG. 

“Livening this site marks a significant point in the RCG journey, including for our suppliers and contractors who have all contributed to our 200th site live. We are very aware what this means to Hawkes Bay locals and how eager they are for services to be delivered via our network. We are very grateful to Philip and Robyn Holt for realising the benefits of this site for their local community and working with us to get this new facility built to provide services to Puketapu.” he says.

Local farmer and landowner of the Seafield Road site location, Philip Holt, says “gaining fast broadband and mobile services is a huge boost to our family run farming business. We have three families directly involved in our farming operation and gaining reliable broadband and mobile services will be hugely helpful in sharing business information, making informed decisions for the business, and keeping in touch whilst out on the farm.  Our neighbours are also thrilled to have services available to assist them with daily business chores and lessen their trips into town.”

The RCG network of 200 live sites across rural New Zealand is providing fast reliable internet connectivity allowing rural people to make a choice about working and schooling from home, providing opportunity to pursue online business, promoting their goods via social media networks, and selling products via online shops.

Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst, Hastings District Council says the primary sector is the backbone of our economy and improved connectivity benefits everyone.  “It allows our farmers and growers to enhance their business performance, it connects families and friends and it also helps our rural community in times of emergencies.  Reliable broadband is essential for emergency management, such as in the recent floods and drought crisis.  We need it to connect our people who are isolated and need our support.”

Rural Kiwis report that it is also vitally important to have good connectivity so they can provide social and wellbeing support within their local community, to help prevent neighbours from feeling isolated.  Local Police Officer Pete Gimblett, speaking on behalf of NZ Police adds, “The new network is important for rural and isolated families to contact emergency services in the case of an accident, fire or other emergencies.  Rural people will now be able to be better informed of potential hazards related to events, such as earthquakes, tsunamis or Civil Defence warnings and also have immediate ability to report any criminal activity.”  

The new RCG sites are the result of an industry leading collaboration between the three mobile network operators and Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) to build over 500 cell sites across rural New Zealand delivering essential broadband and mobile services. 

The RCG is a joint venture between Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees, and has been contracted by CIP to deliver the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 (RBI2) and Mobile Black Spots Fund (MBSF) programmes.  The RCG is responsible for building, operating, and maintaining this essential rural network infrastructure. 

The RCG cell sites are running the latest 4G technology and services are now available to customers of Spark, Vodafone or 2degrees. Customers may need to upgrade their phone settings to enable 4G voice calling. Information is available on the websites for each company and anyone unsure if their device is capable of receiving and making calls over the 4G network should contact their service provider.