The sight of Netta Wilton sitting in the middle of a paddock
with a laptop would probably seem odd to passersby, but it
was a common scene last year.
Mrs Wilton, who lives in Scotts Gap with her husband Karl and
three children, had such slow broadband
she would need to sit in a paddock to get any kind of
reliable speed to do her online banking.
Mrs Wilton and her household can now successfully watch
videos, play games and do the banking online, thanks to the
Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).
The RBI is a partnership between Vodafone and the government
aiming to upgrade 387 existing cell towers and build 154 new
towers around the country in a bid to give rural residents
access to fast broadband.
The first Rural Broadband tower for Southland was built at
Nightcaps in August last year, giving fast broadband access
to more than 1000 households, including the Wiltons.
''It's awesome compared to what we had before. We love it.
''It's 11 times faster than it used to be - it used to take
six minutes to change a page. We couldn't get internet
''Now we can watch videos, the kids can do their homework and
play games, and we run our whole farm business online.''
Vodafone head of networks Tony Baird said the company had
hit the halfway mark for Southland, Gore and Invercargill,
completing upgrades to 11 of its 19 existing cell sites and
delivering wireless broadband services to more than 6150
Vodafone cell sites at Ohai, Edendale, Hedgehope and Mid Dome
in Southland, and at Edendale and Riversdale South in Gore,
would be upgraded in the next 12 months of the RBI programme.
This would extend wireless broadband services to an
additional 5100 rural addresses.
Five of nine new towers planned under the RBI for Southland
and Invercargill were complete, including at Tokanui,
Waimahaka, Nightcaps, Lorneville and Lumsden.
The new tower on Stewart Island was due to be completed this
month, while the final three towers would go live during the
final two years of the RBI programme.