Haast township now has mobile coverage for the first time with the completion of a fully operational 3G mobile tower.
Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran along with the Rural Communities Minister and MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor, visited Haast in March because of safety concerns around the lack of mobile connectivity and the impact that had on the community and tourists in the area.
“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 today that the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) has switched on the Haast tower three weeks earlier than planned,” said Clare Curran.
“Haast sits in the middle of a 244 kilometre mobile reception blackspot that runs from Fox Glacier to Lake Hawea. Contacting emergency services has previously been very difficult and in an area that sees a huge amount of tourist traffic, as well as a significant number of road accidents, we needed to take this urgent action.
“The tower gives coverage to the township and State Highway 6 north and east of Haast for around three kilometres. Residents and visitors will be able to txt 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,” Clare Curran said.
Damien O’Connor says he is pleased to see this progress in his electorate.
“All New Zealanders, no matter where they live, should have a reasonable ability to live, work and run businesses and to contribute to and be a part of New Zealand society. I look forward to further advances in connectivity for our vital regions,” Damien O’Connor said.
The Haast 3G tower has been built by the RCG and is the first tower it has completed under the second phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) and Mobile Black Spots Fund programme (MBSF).
The focus of the new tower is on immediate safety improvements. It uses satellites to connect to the national network for voice and text services but high speed broadband won’t be available until a permanent 4G solution for Haast and other locations on the West Coast can be built.
Updated on 11th May 2018