Displaying items by tag: rural connectivity

The New Zealand Government is investing $270 million to roll out Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) to 190 more small towns, and extend rural broadband to another 74,000 households and businesses, Communications Minister Simon Bridges said.

“We’re also bringing the completion of the UFB network forward by two years. By the end of 2022, our UFB program will provide more than four million New Zealanders with access to world-class internet,” Mr. Bridges said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English spoke about the announcement in Hamilton on August 29, where he was on the campaign trail for his party, as the country’s election draws near. The investment includes $130 million to extend UFB to another 60,000 households and businesses in 190 new towns and complete the network by 2022.

The investment also includes $140 million to extend rural coverage of high speed broadband under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) to another 74,000 rural households and businesses, and to deliver mobile coverage on 1,000km of rural highways and more than 100 tourist areas through the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF).

New Zealand started UFB in 2010 with the original goal of connecting 34 towns to “world-class fiber-to-the-premises” said Mr. Bridges. UFB uses fiber optic cables to deliver broadband to households and businesses. It is most suitable and cost effective in urban areas with higher living and business densities. Earlier in the year NZ expanded UFB to 200 more towns, and the new announcement will bring NZ to 390.

Because UFB is not feasible for every rural community, the RBI provides faster internet to homes and businesses outside UFB areas through a combination of fixed lines upgrades and new fixed wireless coverage. Over 300,000 rural homes and businesses already have access to improved broadband under the first phase of RBI which was completed in June 2016.

The latest funding announcement is in addition to the $150 million the NZ Government has already allocated for rural broadband and mobile coverage. Mr. Bridges said, “We want to ensure that some of our biggest sectors that operate in rural New Zealand – such as agriculture and tourism – can benefit from the productivity improvements that better connectivity offers.”

The Mobile Black Spot Fund will improve public safety and visitor experiences by providing greater mobile coverage on stretches of State Highway and in tourism locations where no coverage currently exists, the National Party explained in a press release.

“We are providing coverage along remote parts of the State Highway network that until now had no coverage at all. For example, State Highway 6 on the West Coast and State Highway 1 in the Far North,” Mr. Bridges said. “Better connectivity in these remote areas will enhance visitor experiences at some of the countries tourist hotspots.”

Together, the Rural Broadband and Mobile Black Spot programs will be delivered through the construction of more than 450 new towers, in addition to the 150 already built.

“Today’s announcement brings our total investment in rolling out world-leading communications infrastructure to more than $2 billion,” Mr. Bridges said. “Once complete, New Zealand will be in the top five countries in the OECD for access to high speed broadband. Considering that in 2011 we were placed 26th with very little connectivity that will be a fantastic achievement.”

Published in Government

Luxembourg-based satellite company Intelsat recently announced a managed services solution that will provide 2G services in remote locations of Africa.  The solution leverages contributions of services provider BCom and technology provider Newtec for core components of the solution.

IntelsatOne Mobile Reach Solar 2G is a turnkey package designed for mobile network operators (MNOs) seeking to expand voice services in a simple, cost-efficient manner to remote populations throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The solution includes all satellite, cellular and power components, allowing MNOs to deploy and connect with their subscribers virtually anywhere.

While some countries and regions are transitioning to 4G and even looking at 5G, it is important to remember that 4 billion people throughout the world are without Internet connectivity, Intelsat said in a release.  2G still represents a large amount of existing wireless infrastructure. In Africa, more than 672 million people rely on 2G services, and those networks need to be upgraded and expanded to meet growing connectivity demands throughout the continent, Intelsat claims.

Furthermore, half of the continent is unconnected, resulting in a dire need to provide a connectivity solution to regions not served by current mobile network service territories.  IntelsatOne Mobile Reach Solar 2G was developed specifically for MNOs to be able to extend their coverage to serve these populations with a cost-effective, easily deployable and efficient cell site that is solar-powered.

The managed service, which will be marketed by Intelsat initially in the sub-Saharan Africa region, integrates satellite services from Intelsat’s globalized network with Newtec’s advanced Newtec Dialog multiservice platform, and BCom’s backhaul terminal solution and network deployment expertise. Through this partnership, IntelsatOne Mobile Reach Solar 2G delivers a product that can be rapidly deployed and is easily scalable to serve regions and populations of all sizes.

“Satellite is fundamental to improving connectivity coverage in rural areas, especially relevant for the African continent,” said Jean-Philippe Gillet, Intelsat’s Vice President and General Manager, Broadband. “Now that smaller, more portable kits can be used with our high power Intelsat Epic platform, connecting those communities will become easier and more cost-effective.

Gillet added, “The experience of implementing HTS (high throughput satellite) into our customers’ networks has affirmed our beliefs about its potential, and in every region, Intelsat is focused on making access to satellite solutions easier than ever for commercial connectivity providers. This is another example of Intelsat Epic expanding the market for satellite-based solutions.”

Patrick Elias, Sales & Operations Director at BCom, a satellite services provider and solution designer, said: “Our goal is to design a solution that is easy to deploy, that fits each community with basic 2G GSM services and cover a larger area or population in a very cost-effective way based on a pay-as-you-grow model. With each community having its own specificity in terms of landscape and population density, the BCom backhaul terminal solution is designed to be flexible, scalable and resilient.”

Published in Satellite Industry

The European Commission has determined that Croatia's €101.4 million Next Generation Network (NGN) Broadband plan is in line with EU state aid rules. This scheme aims to provide fast internet access where it is currently not available, in particular in rural areas.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Croatia's broadband scheme will bring faster internet to consumers and businesses that currently do not have it. It will help Croatia to put in place the necessary infrastructure for an information society and contribute to creating a Digital Single Market within the EU."

Croatia's current broadband market is characterized by high prices and low take-up rates compared to the EU average. This scheme aims to significantly improve the situation and help Croatia increase its connectivity and meet the targets set out by the Commission in the context of the Digital Single Market.

Backhaul networks, such as the Next Generation Network (NGN) in Croatia, provide the backbone of internet networks and can be thought of as information highways. Next Generation Access (NGA) networks, which can be thought of as more local roads, connect into the NGN.

The previous Croatian broadband scheme, the National Broadband Plan, was approved by the Commission in January 2016 and supported the roll-out of NGA networks in un-served or underserved areas. The purpose of the new measure is to provide sufficient upstream capacity to sustain the previously approved scheme in rural areas.

Croatia's NGN will be rolled out partly in areas where either no NGN backhaul network exists, or areas where the backhaul infrastructure is insufficient to meet projected needs. No operator has shown any interest to invest commercially in the scheme's target areas, which were identified by Croatia through a detailed mapping exercise and two public consultations.

The scheme aims to increase the coverage of high speed broadband and provide speeds of 100 Mbit/s symmetrical (i.e. upload and download). It will run until 31 December 2023. The new infrastructure will be financed mainly through the European Regional Development Fund and partly by national funds, and the network will remain in public ownership.

The management of the scheme is attributed to a public undertaking, OiV, which will offer long term leasing agreements on the infrastructure to all interested operators. These operators will subsequently be able to offer connection services to local access providers, which in turn serve end consumers. In this way, the new NGN backhaul network will support the NGA networks previously approved under EU state aid rules.

The Commission assessed the measure under EU state aid rules, in particular its 2013 Broadband Guidelines. These guidelines aim to ensure, amongst other things, that public funding does not take the place of private investment. They also ensure that other service providers can use the publicly funded infrastructure on a non-discriminatory basis. This protects effective competition, which is a key driver for investment and better prices and quality for consumers and businesses.

The Commission concluded that the positive effects on competition in the Croatian broadband market outweigh possible distortive effects on already established operators. It therefore found the Croatian NGN scheme to be in line with EU state aid rules.

Published in Government

A $250 million project has been approved by the Zimbabwean government to implement more than 600 towers and base stations across the country to connect rural areas with low mobile connectivity. According to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) the towers will be shared by the nation’s operators.

Supa Mandiwanzira, Minister of Telecommunications, said POTRAZ had received many complaints about the low level of connectivity available to people from across the African country, which influenced the regulator to make the changes.

“We need to move rapidly to deploy base stations and telecoms infrastructure in those areas to allow for mobile communications,” said the Minister. “We are going to insist on NetOne, TelOne and Telecel, which are government controlled, to ensure they are not prioritizing investment in urban areas where they believe they can get a return, but in rural areas because that is where the majority of the population is.”

The Minister added: “The funding will be supplied by Zimbabwe’s Universal Services Fund. The project was first announced in February with build expected to begin by the end of the year. This project, when it takes off, should address the challenge in areas where our people are complaining about the challenge of mobile network.”

Last month, Zimbabwean telecom operators agreed to share infrastructure to help cut costs and reduce duplication, according to the government.

Published in Government

Vodafone New Zealand is set to purchase 70 percent of the rural broadband and satellite section ‘Farmside’ of operator TeamTalk for NZ$10 million ($7 million). The acquisition is subject to approval by shareholders. Vodafone NZ has the option to purchase the remaining 30 percent for NZ$3 million within the next three years.

TeamTalk, established in 1994, is New Zealand’s leading mobile radio company, with its main focus on digital trunking communication services. New Zealand telecom operator Spark announced plans to acquire TeamTalk in February in a move to increase its rural coverage of services. Spark said it would purchase TeamTalk for 80 NZ cents per share, which would value the company at about NZ$22.7 million.

The acquisition never proceeded however, because TeamTalk’s board said the offer was “without merit and not in the interests of TeamTalk shareholders.” Therefore, the operator will continue to manage Farmside under a management contract.

Vodafone New Zealand’s stake in Farmside will enable a substantial reduction in debt for TeamTalk and provide a clear path forward for Farmside, said Team Talk CEO Andrew Miller. The deal will also enable Team Talk “to strengthen our partnership with Vodafone, a significant provider to rural New Zealand,” he said.

Farmside has been valued at around NZ$9.6 million to NZ$12 million by an independent adviser, said Vodafone NZ CEO Russell Stanners. Acquiring a stake in Farmside will allow Vodafone “to deliver better outcomes for rural customers, to increase our presence in the rural broadband market and to utilize the skill-sets of the two complementary companies,” he said.

Published in Finance

Ever pushing above its weight on an international scale, New Zealand has connected over one million households, businesses, schools and hospitals to the government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) services. Communications Minister, Amy Adams released the latest quarterly report on the UFB and the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) programs, saying: “This means 2.4 million New Zealanders are now able to connect to UFB, which is an outstanding achievement this far into the build.”

The report notes that in the last quarter, about 240,000 users were connected to UFB, up 22.4 percent on the previous quarter. Na

rural connectivitytionwide uptake is at 23.9 percent, covering 19 of 33 towns and cities. “There are no more than 830 new households and businesses connected to fiber every working day – more than one every minute – as New Zealanders realize the benefits of the government’s investment in high-speed broadband,” said Adams.

Adams added: “Internet connectivity has become an essential part of the day to day life, and access to faster broadband opens up opportunities across business, health and within the local community.”

According to reports, the first phase of the UFB program aims to connect 75 percent of New Zealanders with fiber to the premise by the end of 2019. The fiber will be capable of peak speeds of at least 100 Mbps. Moreover, the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative has also been completed and is benefitting 300,000 homes and businesses. The New Zealand government reportedly invested $300 million into the program to improve rural access to broadband connections.

Before the rural initiative was put in place, Adams says only 20 percent of rural lines in New Zealand were capable of speeds around 5 Mbps. Now that the first phase of the project has been completed, this has been increased to 90 percent of rural New Zealand households and businesses, with speeds in excess of 5 Mbps.

Minister Adams also added that all New Zealand state and state-integrated schools are now able to connect under RBI or UFB, or the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative. She says around 39 rural hospitals and integrated family centers are able to access peak speeds of 100 Mbps under RBI. “Connectivity is a necessity,” says Adams. “It’s an essential part of New Zealand’s growing economic and social infrastructure, and even more integral to our communities.”

Published in Government