Excitement builds as Ultra-Fast Internet Reaches Ngaruawahia

In January 2017, the New Zealand Government announced an investment of $300 million to extend Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) to 151 regional towns across NZ, bringing faster internet speeds to an estimated 423,000 New Zealanders. 

The Government investment included $170 million to deliver UFB to the Waikato region, including the townships of Horotiu, Ngaruawahia and Huntly, providing access to UFB with speeds of close to 1,000 Megabits per second.

The project has now reached Ngaruawahia, much to the delight of local businesses and private residents.

The first step in laying the UFB cable is the excavation work, opening the way for the cables to be installed.  Working on this project is Hamilton-based directional drilling specialist, Civtec.  Directional drills are the 21st Century’s answer to trenches.  They cause minimal disruption to the ground surface and are able to be directed to avoid existing utilities and other objects, such as cultural artefacts.

Ngaruawahia is recognised as hub of national cultural importance, being the meeting place of the rivers Waikato and Waipa and the home of the highly respected Turangawaewae Marae.

Caroline Hodges, Project Co-ordinator at Civtec, says before the excavation work began on 31 October, a short induction took place, to ensure the proper respect was paid to the area while drilling.

“We had the local iwi come down and do a blessing before the start of the project,” says Caroline.  “We also had some training around archaeological sites, as it’s obviously a cultural and historical area.  We needed to make sure if we uncovered any historical artefacts we knew what to do with them.”

Around Ngaruawahia, households and businesses are looking forward to connecting to the UFB network. 

Local businessman Paul Smith, who runs local Volkswagen service and repair business V Dub Shoppe, says he’s anticipating better productivity once his business has access to faster internet speeds. 

“This will definitely help us with our business,” says Mr Smith.  “We’ve been hanging out for it since we moved here so it’s good that it’s getting done, for sure. 

“Pretty much everything’s internet based now,” he says.  “All our ordering’s done through our website and we’re constantly using e-mail.  I think we were told 2020 when we arrived here so it looks like things are ahead of schedule.  I’m very pleased.  It can’t come soon enough.”

The work is being done in stages, with each stage involving installation of a cabinet which services each area. 

“A cabinet is like a hub for all the fibre which services a particular area,” says Caroline Hodges.  “If you’ve ever seen one of those big green, telecom boxes on the side of the road, it’s pretty much like that.  It’s got a door on it, so it literally is a cabinet.”

Civtec will drill the main duct from the cabinet, up the street to service each of the houses in the area. 

“We’ve just about finished the first cabinet and then we’ll move on to the second cabinet.  It takes about four weeks to do each section,” says Caroline.  “Once we’ve done the main build, the house connections can start going in and people can start getting their fibre.”