No cellphone funding for Nelson

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It appears there will be no immediate improvement to Nelson’s cellphone coverage, after Nelson City Council decided not to apply for a share of $50 million that the government has made available for upgrades of mobile phone “black spots”.

Nelson City Council confirmed that it has no intention of applying for the money, despite Tasman District Council surveying its residents and enlisting the support of the Nelson Economic Development Agency to support its case for some funding.

Residents from around the region were quick to point out areas where cellphone coverage is poor in Nelson, via the Nelson Weekly Facebook page. Many said there were black spots in Marsden Valley, Maitai Valley, parts of Atawhai, Cable Bay, Ngawhatu, Todd Bush Valley, Marybank and even parts of Nelson South, including the hospital.

But the council says it does not “have anything on hand regrading blackspots in Nelson City”.

The Mobile Black Spots Fund was set up by the government to extend mobile coverage into black spots of main highways and key tourist areas. Sites will be selected following consultation with key business and community stakeholders, with funds allocated by a tender process.

Other funds set up alongside the black spot fund include the Ultra-Fast Broadband Extension and the Rural Broadband extension.

Nelson EDA manager Bill Findlater says they were approached by Tasman District Council to help with their application for funding, but not by Nelson City Council.

Councillors contacted by Nelson Weekly hadn’t heard of the fund and said it wasn’t something that had come across the council table.

Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne says digital networks are not part of council’s infrastructure, they are becoming “essential” for businesses, that’s why his council was keen to put together a “strong bid” for the funding.