Isolated West Coast township of Haast to get cell phone coverage for first time

The isolated township of Haast on the West Coast will have mobile phone coverage for the first time this May.

The broader Haast region had a population of 240 people at the 2013 census, and by the end of May, a 3G cell tower will be built to service the town.

The tower will provide coverage on State Highway 6 north and east of Haast for around three kilometres in total "subject to obstruction from terrain and vegetation".

Within three to four months the government says it will be upgraded to 4G coverage.

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran said there had been many concerns from the community on the dead zone for cell phone coverage.

"This government has heard the community's concerns about public safety issues caused by no mobile service and over summer we’ve seen the impact a lack of mobile connectivity can have in an isolated community which has a lot of tourism," Ms Curran said.

"Planning and rolling out mobile cellular towers across remote parts of New Zealand is challenging, partly because of how difficult it is to find suitable sites for the towers.

"We are focusing on the areas of greatest need first – the West Coast is in this category, and Haast and the surrounding area in particular suffers at the moment from a near-complete dearth of connectivity."

A helicopter carrying crew from ONE News heads for the West Coast following this morning's fatal crash.
Source: 1 NEWS