244 km-long comms black spot filled

By Jonathan Nally
Tuesday, 08 May, 2018

244 km-long comms black spot filled

Haast is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations, located in a UNESCO World Heritage site on the rugged west coast of the South Island. As far as pristine scenery goes, it has it all.

What the township didn’t have was reliable modern mobile phone coverage. But that is now a thing of the past, following the completion and commissioning of a new 3G mobile tower.

Haast is in the middle of a 244 km-long mobile reception black spot that runs from Fox Glacier to Lake Hawea.

Communications with emergency services had previously been very difficult. The area has a large amount of tourist traffic and experiences a significant number of road accidents.

The lack of modern communications had led to safety concerns and worries about the effect on businesses and families in the area, and prompted a visit to the region in March by Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran.

“We’ve addressed these concerns and during the visit promised to build the tower by the end of May. I’m very pleased to announce… that the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) has switched on the Haast tower three weeks earlier than planned,” said Curran.

“The tower gives coverage to the township and State Highway 6 north and east of Haast for around 3 km. Residents and visitors will be able to text and make phone calls on three mobile networks — Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees.

“Sections of SH6 between Fox Glacier and Lake Hawea will also have coverage by the end of the year when between six and eight small roadside mobile sites will be placed on NZTA land, rest areas and on private land where available, along that section of highway,” Curran added.

The Haast tower, built by the RCG, is the first it has completed under the second phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative and Mobile Black Spots Fund program.

The tower uses satellite communications to connect to the national network for voice and text services.

High-speed broadband will become available when a permanent 4G solution for Haast and other west coast locations can be built.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Syda Productions

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