Funds for cell, internet access

Cellphone coverage and internet access for Milford, in Southland, is set to be improved through a $12 million investment from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.

The Government announced yesterday it would invest $44.8million from the fund to improve digital connectivity in Southland and the West Coast.

The $22million funding for the Haast fibre loop between Fox Glacier and Lake Hawea was the largest investment, and $12million allocated to the Milford Highway fibre connection into Milfordwas next on the list.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said West Coast and Southland had identified digital infrastructure investment as crucial for economic growth.

"These two regions cover a lot of land which is a long way from our cities and the wider world. While locals take pride in that remoteness, connecting with customers, friends and family is still essential for thriving business and communities," Mr Jones said.

The Provincial Growth Fund was a $3 billion package to be used over the next three years.

The fund is available for regions outside the metropolitan areas Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.

Te Anau-based Southland district councillor Ebel Kremer said the news was a massive boost for Milford and surrounding areas.

He said the increased cellphone coverage and internet access would help ease the difficulties of doing business and in turn help in the growth of tourism.

The increased communication for Milford would help with safety and search and rescue.

"We couldn't be more thankful, this is tremendous," Mr Kremer said.


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