Rural residents to air broadband issues

WILMA MCCORKINDALE
Last updated 17:47 28/07/2014

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Rural Dunedin communities, hot under the collar over being denied access to ultra-fast rural broadband, will air grievances at a public meeting in Outram tonight.

The community-led meeting, supported by Labour's ICT spokeswoman Clare Curran, will thrash out solutions to improving internet speeds and reliability in Outram, a rural community near Mosgiel on the outskirts of Dunedin, after residents'  agitation on poor connectivity.

“Recently, Outram residents launched a petition calling on Parliament to urge to Government to include Outram into the Ultra-Fast Broadband project," Curran said. The petition was delivered to the Office of the Clerk of the House and was be tabled in Parliament.

Curran said of the 708 people currently living in Outram 367 signed this petition. 

That demonstrated a broad and deep desire by the community to remedy their current unacceptable Internet speeds, she said. In neighbouring Saddle Hill, only minutes form the city centre, there was similar concern. Almost 90 signatures were gathered on a petition following concern from a Saddle Hill community member about low connectivity, Curran said.

“While there are sensible, community-based solutions to improving internet speeds, the complexities and layered costs of such an undertaking are often beyond the capacity of small communities, like Outram. 

“Last week, reports showed that performance of rural broadband connections are declining across New Zealand. While fast broadband is being brought to the cities, those living in smaller rural communities are being left in the doldrums."

Representatives from Chorus and Vodafone had been invited to attend and hear local residents’ concerns directly but had indicated they were not attending, Curran said.

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