Cellphone coverage boosted

Christine Linnell

Kumara township is due to get cellphone coverage just in time for the Speight’s Coast to Coast race in February, as both Telecom and Vodafone invest in mobile towers for the West Coast.
The two telecommunications companies are developing new tower sites at Kumara, due to go live at the end of January, and at Camerons and Ross, due to go live by April. At each site, Vodafone is building the tower and Telecom is investing in $150,000 of mobile equipment.
Telecom is also upgrading the Mount Rochfort site behind Westport, adding antennae to provide better cellphone coverage and capacity.
“This is all part of Telecom’s continued commitment to rural communities to make a world-class mobile network accessible to more New Zealanders,” media adviser Harriet Muir said.
Vodafone is building five additional towers near Greymouth and Hokitika.
A site at Lake Brunner is due for completion in January, and sites at Dobson, Blackball, Gladstone and Kaniere are set for installation within several years. Upgrades are in the works for existing towers in Hokitika, Whataroa and outer Greymouth.
External communications manager Michelle Baguley said: “Between the upgrades and the new build sites, wireless broadband will be available for over 3790 addresses in Grey and Westland at the conclusion of the five-year programme.
“Numerous roads and highways in the region that haven’t had any mobile coverage will now be covered.”
The Government’s rural broadband initiative was awarded to Telecom and Vodafone in April 2011. Vodafone won the contract to build 154 new towers and upgrade the equipment at 389 existing towers nationwide. Telecom and other cellphone service providers could bid to add equipment to the towers.