7 December 2020

Almost half of Wairarapa’s rural residents don’t have access to suitable internet speeds – a situation the Wairarapa district councils want to change.

Federated Farmers’ latest connectivity survey found about 46 per cent of respondents have download speeds slower than 20Mbps – the minimum speed considered workable. While it compares favourably to the national statistic of 68 per cent of respondents, Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said improvement was needed.

“Many of our rural residents don’t have access to 5Mbps download speeds, which means they struggle to use technologies that many of us take for granted when doing business day-to-day, or choosing to work remotely. Even something as basic as cellphone coverage is a challenge in many rural areas,” Lyn said.

Improving connectivity is a priority in the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy. Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said the challenge of rural connectivity was brought home for him during COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has highlighted those issues when we relied on video links with family and friends to keep in touch.  I had my own struggles and want to see the situation significantly improved for our rural communities,” Greg said.

Over the last few weeks, the Wairarapa councils have been asking people to share information about their connectivity.

The online survey has so far collected about 100 responses. With only a few days left before it closes on Friday (11 December), South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen is urging people to have their say.

“The information we gather through this survey will be used to develop proposals we will take to the Government to improve connectivity across Wairarapa. It is in everyone’s interest to take part.”

Complete the survey here.