Chris O'Connell, the stalwart of rural broadband, has died suddenly in Wellington.
Chris had long fought for rural and regional broadband access, and for those users on the periphery of the network to be given as much support as necessary to gain access to the services available to city dwellers.
Chris worked with TUANZ for many years, joining the board in 2006 and serving as acting CEO at one point as well as leading a lot of the policy development work.
More recently Chris has been a staunch part of the Wireless ISP community, helping to promote wireless alternatives for regional broadband users.
His influence on the development of rural broadband cannot be overstated and while far from perfect, the industry is in a better place as a result of Chris's tireless efforts. The rural users of New Zealand, and this reporter, owe Chris a debt of gratitude.
Our thoughts are with Chris's partner Liz and his two sons. The telecommunications sector will be somewhat quieter with Chris's passing.
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