Rural Connectivity Group
Rural Connectivity Group - current work happening in the Ōpōtiki district
Fast Broadband and Mobile Services coming to Whanarua Bay
As part of the Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2, fast broadband and mobile services will be delivered to Whanarua Bay before Christmas 2020. The Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) has secured a suitable site location on road reserve on state highway 35 for the RBI2 funded mobile facility. The 12 metre high site forms part of the network that RCG has already built along the coast at Te Kaha, Omaio and Kutarere. The RCG have worked with adjacent land owners and the build of the facility is a permitted activity under the Resource Management Act. The site plan is copied below for your information.
The RCG network is providing 4G services from Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees. It's important to note that this new rural mobile network is kitted out with the latest 4G services, which means that voice calling is handled a little differently. You can read more about that below under 'How will local mobile users access voice calling?'
What is the Rural Connectivity Group?
Getting more rural Kiwis connected is a challenging task - this is due to the rugged terrain, low population numbers, and the cost of building and operating a network in remote places.
Established in 2017 the Rural Connectivity Group has been established to build the infrastructure to provide rural broadband services and mobile services to those homes, marae and businesses that are currently without these services in rural New Zealand. This infrastructure is being funded by the governments Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 (RBI2) and the Mobile Black Spots (MBS) programmes. The Rural Connectivity Group is partnering with Crown Infrastructure Partners to deliver these important programmes of work.
The Opotiki District is set to benefit under these government programmes and we have identified 9 potential sites to achieve broadband and mobile coverage across the Opotiki District Council area. Delivering telecommunications infrastructure into these remote areas is not without significant challenges and these programmes are unique in that government, industry and the three largest mobile network operators are all working together to achieve this important outcome for those New Zealanders that are currently without services.
The nine communities within the Opotiki District area that will receive services are Kutarere, Wainui (2 sites ) Torere, Tirohanga East, Otara, Omaio, Te Kaha and Whanarua Bay. The RCG network is providing 4G services from Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees. It's important to note that this new rural mobile network is kitted out with the latest 4G services, which means that voice calling is handled a little differently.
How will local mobile users access voice calling?
Currently in NZ voice calls on mobile phones are largely made using the 3G network - even if you have the latest release smart phone. In many areas this will continue. Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees have confirmed that most new RBI2 cell towers will be used to deliver mobile voice services on their networks via 4G, rather than the current 3G network used across most of New Zealand. Because of this, many customers will need a software update to their phone or, in some cases, may need to upgrade their phone.
Mobile operators are now upgrading 4G voice functionality within their own networks and to take advantage of the new 4G only network that RCG is building. Trials of 4G voice services are now underway around the country. Voice calling will be still be available to those using an older generation mobile via internet-enabled applications such as WhatsApp, Viber, Facetime or Facebook Messenger, although these services will draw on a user's data plan with their provider instead of calling minutes.
For more information
Spark's customers can contact customer services on 123 or online at https://www.spark.co.nz/help/mobile/understand/volte/
Please note that Skinny phones are not yet capable of 4G voice calling and are not expected to be enabled for another few months.
2degrees customers can contact customer services on 0800 022 022 or online at https://www.2degreesmobile.co.nz/help-and-support/broadband-and-landline/broadband/rural-broadband/
Vodafone's customers can contact customer services on 0800 800 021 or online at http://help.vodafone.co.nz/app/answers/detail/a_id/30264
Please note there are some customers that may have a mobile provided by another company other than Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees via wholesale arrangements.
View or download a copy of the Rural Connectivity Group brochure (PDF, 2MB)