Grandmother finds rural internet solution

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Fran Awburn’s grandchildren needed online access to their correspondence school resources when they moved to Awburn’s property on Ellicotts Block last year. But, living rurally, that access was difficult.

Limited connectivity to the property in Puahue east of Kihikihi meant Awburn had unreliable internet service, and her grandchildren were unable to live chat with one computer going.

“The connection would glitch continually while the kids were doing their standard programmes,” said Awburn. “My daughter had been successfully schooling my grandchildren via correspondence school and had never had any problems running the five programmes, along with the live web chats required, as part of their everyday school programme,” Awburn said.

“When they moved to our property it was incredibly frustrating to have poor connections.”

Lightwire, a Waikato-based company that specialises in rural broadband connections, erected a repeater tower on the Awburn’s Puahue farm.

“Our networks rely on line-of-site technology which means a property needs to have direct sight of a broadband tower to receive an internet connection,” said Lightwire head of rural Mike Cook.

“Many rural locations struggle to have that so at Lightwire our field engineers will erect an intermediate repeater tower that relays the connection from one of our larger towers that are strategically  located all over Waikato and Bay of Plenty back to the customer.

“As it turned out, a peak on Fran and John’s property was the perfect spot for a repeater tower to be built,” he said.

The Awburns got the support of another 10 families on Ellicott Block who wanted better broadband. Within a week, the Lightwire repeater tower was installed and Awburn’s grandchildren were enjoying the benefits of fast, reliable broadband.

“We were up and running almost straight away. And the great thing is, not only does it give my grandchildren easier access to their studies, but families further up the Block have the opportunity to hook in.”

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