RURAL BROADBAND INITIATIVE 2
Supporting a brand-new cellular network for rural New Zealand
Client: Rural Connectivity Group
Services: Property, Planning & Policy
The Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) is an independent entity established to acquire site locations, build, operate and maintain the new 4G wireless network across rural New Zealand. They are appointed by the government to be the infrastructure provider to bring 4G wireless broadband, 4G voice calling and a 3G mobile service to rural New Zealand, under the Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 (RBI2) and the Mobile Black Spot fund (MBSF). The RCG are aiming to cover at least 30,000 rural homes and businesses, 1,000 kms of rural state highways and 100 tourist hotspots. This critical infrastructure project is funded by the government’s Telecommunications Development Levy, and an additional $75M has been provided by New Zealand’s three mobile network operators Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees.
Our Property team provided Site Acquisition services for sites nationwide, and were fundamental in the important strategic development of the programme from its inception. The ongoing work that the team provided involved acquiring the necessary occupation rights, ability to access, and “Right to Build” required, to enable the successful deployment of a complex infrastructure build programme, with a diverse number of stakeholders.
Our Planning team were also involved in providing planning and resource management advice and preparing applications. This included producing risk assessments under the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities 2016 and a large number of district plans, preparing resource consent applications and certificates of compliance applications, along with preparing environmental impact assessments for DOC concessions and obtaining Authority to Modify permissions from Heritage New Zealand, and engaging with specialists including landscape architects and archaeology.
In July 2019, the RCG celebrated reaching a milestone of securing the land needed for the first 100 cell sites to be built, and as of May 2020, 100 of these sites were on air, with 29 of them being completed during the COVID-19 lockdown. By June 2022 the RCG achieved some major project milestones, with over 30,000 households and businesses now with 4G wireless broadband and mobile coverage. While well over 400 sites have been successfully acquired, the RCG network has now over 363 live sites, covering 826 km of state highways and 79 of the most remote but frequently visited tourist locations, enhancing the everyday lives of rural New Zealanders by providing much-needed connectivity at home, at work, across the farm and on local roads.
Planning & Policy
"Response to the livening of these sites has been overwhelmingly positive from local community and council stakeholders and I can’t thank everyone enough for their contribution; it’s been a huge team effort and we’re proud to be providing coverage when it is most needed."
- John Proctor, RCG CEO