Rural Connectivity Group appoints interim head

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An executive programme director has been appointed to lead the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) – the joint venture formed by Spark, 2degrees and Vodafone to deliver the next phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative1.

Chris Dyhrberg, whose previous roles include general manager of network build for Chorus when the initial RBI and Ultra Fast Broadband programmes began, has been appointed to the role.

“Pleased to say Chris Dyhrberg has stepped into the RCG leadership role on an interim basis until a permanent appointment is made,” says Vodafone spokesperson Elissa Downey.

“The RCG’s focus right now is to get fully established so it can begin to deliver on its contract with Crown Infrastructure Partners (formerly Crown Fibre Holdings). There is quite a bit of planning and community engagement to be completed before the RCG can share details of the build.”

In the meantime, the RCG has a website with short videos explaining its involvement in the build, claiming that the collaboration is ‘unique’.

“While it is an unusual collaboration, this is the only possible way to deliver “2 for 1” mobile and wireless broadband rural coverage in such a long, undulating, sparsely populated country. By combining the proven backing and strength of the three largest operators this is a unique opportunity to overcome the challenging economics in building cell-site infrastructure,” claims a video on the site.

In an opinion piece for Foresyte Report last week, digital economy consultant Ernie Newman said he hopes the RCG will be “defined by its name more than its parentage. I hope it will develop its own ethos of using creative solutions to fill the gaps in rural connectivity. If it does, it will reflect great credit on its three parents (Spark, 2degrees, Vodafone) and make a breakthrough for the rural community.”

1 The previous National Government awarded the $250 million contract – which will involve the construction of 450 cellphone towers – to the RCG in August. In addition, around $8 million in funding has been allocated to regional Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs).

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