Canterbury's local authorities have welcomed the announcement by Spark New Zealand today to fast-track its roll-out of fast 4G broadband services across the region by December 2016.
"Spark has made a considerable effort to understand the needs of our farmers and rural communities, and what we can do with fast broadband to drive economic growth and social wellbeing," said Mayor Angus McKay.
"We especially welcome what it will mean for efficient irrigation as we head into another hot, dry summer."
In August, the Mayoral Forum launched the Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy. The strategy is an action plan, with seven work programmes covering transport, digital connectivity, freshwater management, value-added production, education and training for a skilled workforce, newcomer and migrant settlement, and regional visitor strategy.
Each work programme has a lead Mayor. The digital connectivity work programme is led by Damon Odey, Mayor of Timaru District.
Mayor McKay said access to better and faster broadband underpins all the other six work programmes.
"We need digital data and communications on farm to ensure the most efficient use of our precious water. We also need it to manage nutrients, stock and the business of farming, including keeping our farm workers safe and getting emergency help to them quickly if there is an accident," he said.
"We need it to provide education, health and emergency services in rural areas. We need it to keep newcomers and migrants connected to family and friends elsewhere, and to connect them to services. And we need it for manufacturing and as an enabler of value-added production."
Mayor McKay thinks Spark's investment in 4G broadband services is a major win for Canterbury. "It's a great example of how local government can work together and collaborate with the private sector to get better results for our communities."