RBI scheme in demand

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2014
farmside rbi
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FARM CONNECTION: (From left), David Ware, Team Talk (Farmside rep), Russell Fisher, Vodafone, meet with Gary Pearson, who is Farmside's 1000th RBI customer, and Hon Nathan Guy.

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Timaru-based internet provider Farmside has celebrated signing up its 1000th customer to the new Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

Farmside chairman David Ware said although most RBI customers' speeds were five to 10 megabits per second, this was more than triple the speed of most rural satellite connections.

"I think the RBI scheme has taken off in a way that Ultrafast Broadband hasn't yet, because rural business owners just haven't experienced speeds of any decent sort," Mr Ware said. "It's been a new thing for us, too, we've gone from specialising in satellite connections to this RBI scheme, and we have to think of new products to come with it."

Chorus and Vodafone won the $300 million tender for the RBI infrastructure roll-out, which began in 2012. Farmside provides an RBI service under the scheme.

Mr Ware is also managing director of Wellington-based Team Talk, which purchased Farmside in late 2012 for $42m.

Mr Ware said Farmside's Timaru office had increased from 80 to 100 staff in two years, while it served more than 16,000, mostly rural, internet users.

Yesterday, Mr Ware attended a special function celebrating Farmside's 1000th RBI customer, Yard Art in Levin.

Yard Art co-owner Gary Pearson said faster internet connection was crucial to the business.

"We have a business website that generates lots of orders, plus all our banking is done online, so it's really important to us to have broadband," he said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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