Local solutions for local problems

Sector news | Republished from an article by TUANZ
16 April 2018

The College is a member of the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ), which advocates for rural connectivity. TUANZ recently shared an article about a rural wireless internet service provider (WISP) called WIZwireless.

WIZwireless is based in the Wairarapa region, and helps clients - including health care professionals - with connectivity.

Bridget and John Canning have a family farm five minutes out of a small village called Tinui, which is around an hour out of Masterton.

Back in the early 2000s they also had a company based in town called Canning & Associates Limited, which started by providing ICT services to the local business, rural and remote community in 2002

However, Bridget and John were unable to get any decent internet access (other than slow dial up) at their farm – so they decided to do something about it.

Left: Current WIZwireless network coverage | Right: The WIZwireless team overlooking a new installation on their Tinui farm

Using bank loans they built their first live wireless connection from their farm, back to Masterton. Bridget mentioned that they had lined up 20 possible customers to help fund the service, but the week before they went live Telecom turned on ADSL in the local Tinui exchange and they lost 18 of their customers.

They couldn’t go back, so they started marketing the service at local shows and any community gathering they attended - this was the start of WIZwireless.

Today they have over 800 customers on their network, which covers the region from Eketahuna in the north down to the south coast of the Wairarapa.

Their network now has a mix of dark fibre optic cable, various licensed DMR spectrum (7GHz; 13GHz and 18GHZ) and 2.5GHz WiMAX spectrum which they use to deliver services. WIZ also received money under the RBI2 programme to extend their network to new residents.

One of the smart stories that Bridget shared is about a thoracic surgeon based in Wareama (an hour east of Masterton) who uses WISPs to access his Hawaiian patients' x-rays.

TUANZ recognised the work of WIZwireless in 2007 with the TUANZ Innovation Broadband Rural Award, and Bridget has been a member of TUANZ for many years.

Are you unsure what wireless internet service providers (WISPs) are available in your rural area? You can use the WISP online tool to find a suitable provider based in your region.