City dwellers might be as at home online as in the real world but those beyond the reach of high speed broadband may have been left (somewhat) off the grid, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Fortunately, a recent release of government funding is expected to be the spark that ensures rural people and, importantly, businesses are not left out in the cold.
“The vast majority living in towns and cities have absolutely no idea how bad internet access still is in some parts of the country,” Andrew Hoggard from Federated Farmers says. “There is a strong link between rural productivity and internet connectivity. If [the Government is] looking for a shovel-ready project, this would be a good one. The shovels are already in the ground!”
Recently, the Government announced plans to upgrade and expand rural communications networks.
“It is good the Government is looking for ways to continue to grow rural businesses with better technology, especially given the post-COVID-19 world, so hopefully this is just the start of a thoughtful approach to building rural business and community resilience,” Mr Hoggard says.
An increase in internet use during the recent lockdown proves rural connectivity is more important than ever, Kris Faafoi (Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media) confirms.
“New investment brings broadband services to rural households that are currently without access to the internet… Investing in our rural network capacity is an investment in people living in rural areas. It means even more will reap the benefits of connectivity at a time when they need it most.”