May 17th, 2021 | Rural Broadband by Gravity
Can I get the internet where I am? It’s a common question that a whole bunch of Kiwi’s who live in the middle of nowhere ask. Odds are, if you have found this blog, then you’ve got some internet concerns. The good news is we can help.
According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s website (MBIE is the Government department in charge of getting the unconnected connected), mobile coverage currently covers areas where over 95% of New Zealanders live and work. This means you can make a mobile call in most places in New Zealand. Their logic is that if you can make a call then you can use mobile internet. However, 95% coverage is not quite 100% coverage, is it?
If you are part of the missing 5% wondering “when will internet be available in my area?”, don’t panic, instead read about five factors to consider when you want to get the internet at your house, when and where the government plan has yet to deliver it – or just simply isn’t going to.
People choose to live outside of populated areas to get away from it all. Often the internet is not included in the ‘all’. Being connected in the city is simple. Visit a large corporate broadband website and enter your home address into their address checker. Every provider has one and they all have the same thing in common; they won’t work for you. If you are in a position where you have to check if you have connectivity, then there’s a pretty good chance that the big providers won’t be able to help you.
When you plug your address into the large provider’s site you get a list of what you can’t have. You can’t have fibre, or cable, or VDSL, or ADSL – but none of them even mention satellite internet! They don’t talk about satellite for the same reason McDonald’s doesn’t talk about pizza. They don’t sell it.
Broadband Map NZ is a good address checker to start with. You will get told all the things you can’t have. Not exactly helpful, but at least you now know…and again, still no mention of satellite!
At least sometimes places in the middle of nowhere can get Rural Wireless.
Odds are the address checker above gave you an option called ‘Rural Wireless’. This is an internet connection that connects your computer over the cellular network, much like your cell phone connects to the internet. It’s the mobile internet that MBIE believes is the solution to all your internet problems that we mentioned at the start of this article. You may remember cellular dongles that looked like a USB flash drive that you would plug into your laptop to be connected when there was no Wi-Fi. Rural Wireless is the supercharged version of this. The router has a sim card inside and your computer connects to that. Rural Wireless is far less expensive than using your phone data, but it is still a lot more expensive than urban internet plans.
Typically, you will pay for an aerial to be installed on your roof and you might even get charged for the router too. This is a great option for semi-rural areas as long as you have a fairly decent line of sight to a cell phone tower. Suppliers claim download speeds between 2MB and 50MB, but usually, the speed is much lower – more like between 10MB and 20MB. The speeds fluctuate because if you are on Rural Wireless there’s a very good chance your neighbours are too.
Regarding data caps, it can be a mixed bag, but given those speeds, data will be the least of your worries. Back in the early days, Rural Wireless data allowances started at 15GB per month, but it is now possible to get up to 300GB on some plans. Recent improvements to the 4G network have delivered improved speeds and it is possible to stream movies in HD…most of the time. Again, the catch is that if other people on the network are doing the same thing, the network can be sluggish.
The number of users in your home will also affect your speeds. Many homes also have multiple users online at the same time. The more people that are using your home network the slower everything is going to be. Therefore, it is possible to connect to streaming platforms like Netflix or SkyGO, provided no one else in your house wants to use the internet.
If you can get it, Rural Wireless broadband will work well, for some users. This type of connection is a core element of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).
A few years back a program called the Rural Broadband Initiative or ‘RBI’ kicked off. This program aimed to get high-speed connections to rural schools, hospitals, and some libraries. Rural folk within a few kilometres of those sites also benefitted. It was a bright ray of light for people living in the middle of nowhere because it was going to get them fast internet – even fibre.
The first phase of the RBI is now complete, yet tens of thousands of kiwis still don’t have a viable land-based internet option. RBI has a plan to get ‘most’ (notice their selective wording there) of rural New Zealand connected by a certain date (that keeps getting shifted out), so if you are still waiting for your house to get connected, it might be time to look elsewhere.
The plan started in 2017 and is set to finish in 2022, though different sources say completion is 2023 and some say 2024. It’s hard to nail down an exact date, let alone answering the simple question of when your house is getting connected. According to Crown Infrastructure the final connected percentage is 99.8% of New Zealand connected. What if you are part of that 0.02%? That’s 10,000 people who are being left out of the Government’s plan. Yes, we did the math.
You may have seen the trail of Satellites crossing the night sky. That’s Elon Musk’s Starlink, and it’s a great idea for connecting to the internet, but it’s also not quite ready. As of May 2021 only 3.6% of the planned satellites are in orbit, leaving quite a few more to go before it’s finished. This means that at any one point in time there are parts of New Zealand not covered by Starlink’s moving satellites (i.e. no internet connection).
You may get great speeds, sometimes better than in the city, but like many great things, you will have to wait for it. There are some good reasons to consider Starlink…and also some reasons to maybe give it a miss. We wrote a list of Starlink’s pros and cons here, so take a look and weigh them up for yourself.
Satellite internet allows you to get an internet connection even where there is no mobile service. It’s the perfect solution for getting internet in remote areas. Gravity has a simple address checker. It works like this: say your address aloud and then say ‘yes, I can get the internet’, and poof your middle of nowhere connection issues are resolved. This connection type allows you to get internet without a phone line or cell tower, anywhere in NZ.
Gravity does one thing – great satellite internet and we do it well. Where other providers dabble in everything, we are focused on one thing – great satellite internet. Check out our coverage map and be sure to note how it covers all 100% of New Zealand, not 98% of it.
Gravity satellite internet is available everywhere and you get something that most rural broadband providers don’t give you – choice. Gravity offers a choice from small users to unlimited. Wait, what? Unlimited? Did you think unlimited was just for fancy city folk? Not at all, Gravity has unlimited satellite packages for you.
In Summary, if you are wondering “can I get internet at my address?”, or if the internet is currently really slow where you live, Gravity will help you. Forget about RBI plans and other planned technology rollouts, Gravity’s plan is much simpler – it connects the unconnectable. All of them, not just a select convenient few. All 100% of New Zealand and it’s available now. So the answer is yes, you can get internet in your area.