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As COVID-19 struck the world by surprise, people around the world were forced to go online to communicate, work, and unwind - and Kiwis were no exception.
For New Zealanders living rurally, this means that they would have restrictive outdoor activities and would to heavily rely on the internet to keep themselves entertained during lockdown. But here’s the catch; rural internet providers weren’t ready for the heavy consumption of rural Kiwis.
Farmside General Manager Jason Sharp said they received several complaints saying that rural consumers are being treated differently from those in urban areas. To address this, they continue to work with the government to improve services in rural communities.
In this blog, we take a deeper look at how lockdown has affected Kiwis who live in rural areas.
Statistics show that rural broadband usage spiked up to 74% and satellite data up to 35% when comparing usage from March 1-14 to April 1-14 2020. Since the infrastructure was not designed for this unlikely event, internet providers experienced a massive strain in their rural broadband network services.
Rural NZ communities often gather for agriculture exhibitions and stock auctions. Since the lockdown commenced, these face-to-face gatherings have become online meetings instead. New Zealanders, who were mostly moderate internet users before lockdown, now rely on the good internet connection to participate in these activities within their communities.
One of the biggest challenges that come with building cell towers in New Zealand is its rough terrain. A great alternative to reach the remote communities would be a satellite connection. To provide the best internet coverage, communities should at least be within the 35km range from the satellite.
Acknowledging the need for better internet, the NZ government recently brought forward a $15 million budget to improve rural broadband during this pandemic. Infrastructure Minister Shane Jon sees this as an investment not only to temporarily connect rural NZ online but as a long-term solution to further stimulate economic growth in remote areas.
As New Zealand progresses into the world stage, the government is making sure that rural communities will not be left behind. The Rural Broadband Initiative - a partnership with the government, Chorus and Vodafone to bring faster broadband to rural areas - covers improving rural broadband connections as well as mobile services. This is especially helpful for students living in rural communities where they rely on a mobile internet connection to learn and study.
Federated Farmers is all for this initiative of the government. With a fast and reliable connection, farmers can maximise online potential with internet banking, online purchase and online selling. Through this initiative, they are hoping to boost attention and sales to rural business in post-pandemic New Zealand.
The COVID-19 outbreak raised concerns that we wouldn’t have realised otherwise. This includes obvious concerns such as better health security and need for medical equipment, and the smaller concerns such as connectivity issues for rural communities.
With the uncertainty of this pandemic, it’s high time to be connected to see the latest updates about the virus. As internet providers resume fibre installations and repair since NZ moved to Alert Level 3, you can now enquire about getting connected too.
Make sure to get the best broadband plan that matches your rural living needs. Use our online comparison services at Glimp to get connected to the best rural broadband deals in your area now!
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