Rural Broadband Initiative

Rural Broadband

About the Rural Broadband Initiative

The Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is bringing better broadband to rural schools, health providers, some libraries and to date, over 72,000 rural phone lines.

" Distance is no longer a barrier to children going to rural schools. They will get up to 100Mbps access to the internet. "

Chorus and Vodafone are working together to deliver the Government's RBI programme which will see much of rural New Zealand getting improved broadband services.

Delivering better broadband to rural areas is challenging, with line distance and low population density making it difficult both technically and financially. This challenge was acknowledged by Government and RBI was conceived.

RBI pulls together several elements that mean 87% of rural New Zealand will get ADSL2+ or VDSL broadband. It incorporates copper, fibre and wireless networks to deliver better broadband. Where you live and work determines what solution is provided - either fixed line broadband (over the our copper and fibre networks) or fixed wireless broadband (over Vodafone's mobile network).

Our role

The main task for Chorus is laying fibre to rural schools, medical facilities and and some libraries, often to exchange areas where there isn’t fibre today.

We are installing around 1,200 fibre-fed cabinets to rural areas - meaning around 57% of rural New Zealand will have access to fixed line broadband. And over 30% of homes, farms and businesses supplied via our new cabinets can access a VDSL broadband service with speeds in excess of 20 Mbps. This is the fastest service over our existing copper network.

We are also delivering fibre to new Vodafone mobile sites that will be used to provide a fixed wireless broadband to rural communities.

We have made great progess. We are now well past the halfway mark in our rollout of fibre andhigh speed broadband cabinets. At 30 June 2014, a total of about 3,100km of fibre had been laid for the programme, with fibre extended to 951 schools. The rollout had also brought new or upgraded broadband coverage within reach of 72,000 rural lines and broadband uptake was approximately 80%.

The RBI numbers - by the end of the programme:

" As at June 2014 we had laid 3,100 km of fibre and brought 72,000 lines within reach of better broadband and 951 rural schools are able to connect to fibre. "
  •  Chorus is laying 3,350 km of fibre by the end of the programme in 2015
  • We are installing or upgrading over 1,000 new broadband cabinets
  • We are enabling over 40,000 lines in rural areas to access broadband services that had no previous access
  • Connecting over 1,000 rural schools to fibre
  • Connecting 154 new Vodafone cell sites to fibre
  • 50 hospitals and integrated family health centres will have the benefit of 100Mbps fibre connections
  • We are connecting 183 rural libraries to fibre

You can check what broadband services are currently available at your address using our Network Capability Map. This will also give you an indication of planned upgrades to improve your broadband services.

Technology and coverage of our RBI broadband

Broadband speed % rural lines within reach
Technology Distance from cabinet/exchange
5Mbps 57% ADSL (copper) up to 6km
10Mbps 50% ADSL2+ (copper) up to 2.4km
20Mbps 34% VDSL (copper) around 800m
100Mpbs  6% GPON (fibre) around 20km but eligibility criteria applies

And now there is fibre

We are now offering fibre connections to eligible farms, businesses and homes. The key eligibility criteria is whether Chorus has deployed new duct infrastructure in which fibre has been deployed as part of RBI.

Eligible farms, businesses and homes will be able to connect enabling broadband speed of up to 100Mbps. You can check our Rural Fibre map which indicates where new infrastructure ducts have been deployed. Please contact a telecommunications service provider for more information including details of installation costs and plans.

We can't provide faster fixed line broadband to everyone in rural New Zealand

Distances and low population density means that we can't deliver faster fixed line broadband to all parts of New Zealand. This challenge was acknowledge by government in the Rural Broadband Initiative and Vodafone is partnering to deliver fixed wireless broadband to 86% of rural households.

We use a technology called Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) to deliver broadband services over our copper network. Due to the resistence inherent in copper lines the maximum distance we can push a broadband signal is around five to six kilometres from the exchange or cabinet supplying the service.

The closer you are to the cabinet or exchange supplying your broadband services, the faster the speeds you experience. You can read more about distance and the challenge of delivering broadband over copper.

If you are within 800 metres of one of our fibre-fed cabinets you could get broadband speeds in excess of 20 Mbps, at 5-6 kilometres you are likely to get around 1 Mbps.

We regularly review our investment plans but our capital expenditure only stretches so far. If you are unhappy with your broadband speeds or can't get broadband at all there are some options:

  • Check if you can access Vodafone's RBI fixed wireless broadband service
  • There are a number of regional wireless broadband providers as well. Google your region and 'wireless broadband provider'.
  • Consider a satellite broadband service. Farmside offers a satellite service to rural New Zealand.
  • Work within your local community to identify opportunities created by the fibre connection to your school.

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These shape files highlight the approximate broadband coverage areas for our Years 1 to 5 of our RBI rollout. While each RBI cabinet or exchange coverage area will highlight whether speeds of 1Mbps or 5Mbps are the expected attainable peak information rate, this is indicative information only and a formal prequalification check is required to confirm service availability.

Rural Fibre

Fibre to Rural Communities

The main focus of Chorus' role in RBI is delivering fibre to rural schools, libraries, cell sites, hospitals and medical facilities. To achieve this as efficiently as possibly we have leveraged our existing network and only built new duct infrastructure to reach these priority users. 

This fibre infrastructure is also available to provide eligible farms, homes, businesses, and maraes with fibre-based broadband services. Eligible properties are those that are adjacent to the new duct routes indicated on the map below. You can check if you can access fibre-based broadband by entering your address. You need to talk to a telecommunications service provider about availability, plans and installation costs. 

We have to do a bit of work to connect you to the new fibre network. There are costs associated with this work. This cost depends on a combination of the density of properties in an area; the distance from the exchange or cabinet; and, the distance of the premises from the road. You will also be required to provide a trench to an acceptable standard beyond 10 to 15 metres from the road to your premises. Your telecommunications service provider will be able to discuss these costs with you. More complex builds will require a design and a price on application approach.

Fibre to Rural Communities
  • You can only connect to RBI fibre in areas where we have dug trenches and installed new ducts.
  • There will be installation costs that will vary - in a rural town adjacent to the fibre will be cheaper to connect than a farm outside of town.

Enter your address to see if you can access the RBI fibre network

More about accessing a fibre-based broadband service

  • This map gives you an indication of Chorus network capability, you will need a service provider that offers services over the Chorus network.
  • The map indicates the fibre currently available not the full fibre rollout under the Rural Broadband Initiative.
  • There will be installation costs. Your service provider will come back to you with costs. Work will not begin until you accept the costs. You have the choice of providing your own trenching however we will need to inspect it before we go ahead with the installation.
  • Installation includes getting the fibre from the roadside into your property. It will include the installation of an external termination point on the exterior and an optical network terminal inside the property.
  • The services and speeds that you get will depend on your service provider and your location.

Fibre to Schools

RBI and UFB - delivering fibre and up to 100 mbps broadband to a school near you

Under both the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) and the Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) rollout, we are delivering fibre to New Zealand schools.

" 97.7% of schools and 99.9% of students will receive ultra-fast broadband capability by 2016 "

This is an exciting development for New Zealand kids, particularly those at rural schools where good broadband access has been a challenge in the past.

We are delivering fibre to over 1000 rural schools and more than 800 urban schools. Urban and most rural schools will have a broadband connection capable of delivering up to 100 Mbps.

Around 2.3% of schools are in areas too remote for fibre but will have improved access to broadband services via wireless. A small number of schools will receive satellite services.

More information on the fibre rollout programme for schools is available on the Ministry of Education website.

Getting your school connected

Firstly we need to get fibre to your school. This often involves building a new fibre connection to the school gate. In rural areas this can involve digging trenches and laying ducts over distances.

Check our list of schools and delivery dates (we update this regularly):

" Once we have fibre to the school gate you need to order a service from your telecommunications service provider or Network for Learning. "

When we have got fibre to the school gate you need to place an order for a service with either a telecommunications service provider, your current one is a good starting point or  Network for Learning.  If your current provider is not offering fibre-based services, click on your region to find a list of service providers offering solutions for schools.

After you place an order with your chosen provider we send a service technician to look at the best way of getting fibre from the gate to the school. The technician will work with the school's staff to come up with a plan which takes into account the school's current communications infrastructure and what type of service they will use.

Service providers for schools

These telecommunications service providers offer fibre-based services to schools:

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West Coast



Electric Fences

Electric Fences

Interference with phone services

Do you get a tick tick tick sound on your phone line? It could be interferance from your electric fences.

A common challenge we face in rural areas is electric fences that are poorly constructed or not earthed correctly. These cause noise, typically a clicking sound, on phone lines and can make internet connections slow or cause them to disconnect.

" When electric fences are installed correctly they have minimal impact on phone services "

Your electric fence could be interfering with your phone and internet connections and causing similar problems for your neighbours.

It can be difficult to work out what or who is causing the problem. It can be anywhere along the line, from the exchange, the cabinet, to the furthest connection on the line. An issue at your property could be impacting someone several kilometres away.

We and Gallaghers (who know a thing or two about electric fencing) recommend a five-step approach. If this is doesn't solve the problem you need to get together with your neighbours and the others on the same telephone line and turn off one fence at a time to identify where the interference is coming from.

" Broadband is less affected than dial-up internet access due to the higher frequencies it uses - talk to your telecommunications service provider about upgrading. "

Five-step electric fence check

1. Find out where the phone lines are

Remember some will be buried and others overhead. They usually run along the roadside and driveways. Look for the marker posts or grey connection pillars. We provide a service called BeforeUdig to help locate underground cables.

2. Identify electric fences and connecting leads that run parrallel to the phone lines or cables

A 'leaky' fence with high current can be a problem, even when 100 metres or more from the line.

3. Check the current in your electric fence near the phone line

This should be less than 2 amps per kilometre of fence. Locate and fix any shorts if necessary.

4. If the current is still too high, make certain that the section of fence close to the phone cable is at the tail-end of the fence line

Feed the main supply through sections of the fence further away from the phone cable.

5. Check the earthing system meets manufacturer instructions

It needs to be at least 10 metres from buildings or another earthing system. Check that the energiser earth electrode connecting lead and output leads are well clear of phone lines.

More Information:

Gallagher have excellent information available, including setting up electric fences correctly and you can download a copy of the "Is your electric fence phone and net friendly?" brochure.