New Zealand’s government detailed how an NZD60 million ($37.4 million) budget for improving rural connectivity would be allocated, with the lion’s share to be used to upgrade network capacity and speeds in underserved areas.

In a statement, Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications David Clark noted NZD43 million is earmarked to boost connectivity in some of the hardest to reach areas of New Zealand including settlements in the Far North, Gisborne, the Manawatu-Whanganui region, Taranaki, Southland and the Waikato.

“We are currently working towards having 99.8 per cent of the population able to access new, or improved broadband by the end of next year,” he stated.

Coupled with rural capacity upgrades announced in February focused on improving existing towers and building new ones, Clark said the government allocated more than NZD90 million towards expanding the capacity of rural networks over the next three years.

In addition, NZD15 million of the funding will go towards a new Remote Users Scheme, which aims to provide broadband services in some of the country’s most remote locations, those with no coverage or with only voice and text messaging services.

The funding includes an additional NZD2 million for extending the Marae Digital Connectivity initiative for up to two years. Work is underway to finalise details of the scheme, which Clark intends to launch later this year.