About Lightwire

A couple of computer enthusiasts in rural Waikato were so frustrated by slow or no internet that they decided to fix it and close the rural connectivity gap.

On a mission to close the rural connectivity gap

How many times do you use the internet each day?

The average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 145 minutes per day alone, throw work, entertainment and education on top of that and we are talking more than 10 hours per day!

But using the internet isn’t easy for you. There are 61,186 other rural households in the same position as you across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and too many of these don’t realise there is a better option for them than contended 4G services.

They are being held back, and so are you.

This is serious stuff, poor internet robs you of so much value. It holds back the kids study, it ruins your in-home streaming experience, it stops you working from a beautiful setting and forces you into peak hour traffic.

This is why Lightwire exists. We were created to help you derive as much value as possible from living rural. No big city focus, we only care about here.

We help more than 7,500 households across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty do more from here by providing fast speeds, free install, a relentless focus on service uptime, local support and unlimited data.

It’s internet, built for here.

Our Values

Technology is our means, humanity is our foundation. We embrace a set of values that power our results, shape our culture, and lead to strong relationships inside our company and out.

We Care

We are focused on the best outcomes for our customers, communities, and team.

We Grow as People

We foster and challenge a highly capable and motivated team to be a bit better every day.

We Are Experts

We are a talented and collaborative team who work together to create smart and innovative solutions.

We Can Do It

No problem is too big. We are trustworthy, resourceful problem solvers who get the job done.

Great internet starts with a great team

Brendan Ritchie – Chief Revenue Officer

Brendan joined Lightwire in early 2017 to drive expansion into the trans-Tasman business market, under the newly formed Lightwire Business unit. With the success of that initiative, he transitioned into the role of CRO where he now oversees product, sales, marketing, support and provisioning for business and rural segments.

Brendan has 15+ years of Telco experience across Australia and New Zealand and is also a Director of Lightwire’s Australian business, Lightwire Australia Pty Ltd.  

Brendan Ritchie, CRO Lightwire
Scott Raynel, Ph. D – Chief Operating Officer

Scott has responsibility for build and maintains functions within Lightwireholding responsibility for core network, voice, rural network, systems and development

Scott has been with Lightwire since its inception in 2006 and was a member of the original CRCnet research project that was eventually commercialised into Rural Link.  

Brendan Ritchie, CRO Lightwire
Mike Cook – Head of Rural

Mike Cook has led the Rural team at Lightwire for the last four years and in that time has been focused on upgrading Lightwire’s radio technology and power systems in advance of surging customer demand. 

Mike is surrounded by innovative, creative, hardworking  people who are extremely passionate about the brand and constantly looking at how to improve customers experience from rural installs to complex bespoke business connections. 

Brendan Ritchie, CRO Lightwire
David Rowe – Head of Service

David has responsibility for service delivery and customer care at Lightwire. Dave joined Lightwire in 2017 and has been responsible for the development of the customer care team and its systems and processes, leading projects to drive customer satisfaction. Davis has extensive experience in service delivery and complex provisioning project management. 

Brendan Ritchie, CRO Lightwire
Sheree Carter – Network Operations Centre Team Lead

David has responsibility for service delivery and customer care at Lightwire. Dave joined Lightwire in 2017 and has been responsible for the development of the customer care team and its systems and processes, leading projects to drive customer satisfaction. Davis has extensive experience in service delivery and complex provisioning project management. 

Brendan Ritchie, CRO Lightwire
Paul Knight - Rural Development Manager

David has responsibility for service delivery and customer care at Lightwire. Dave joined Lightwire in 2017 and has been responsible for the development of the customer care team and its systems and processes, leading projects to drive customer satisfaction. Davis has extensive experience in service delivery and complex provisioning project management. 

Lightwire's History

End of 2001

The beginning of CRCnet

Initial CRCNet (Connecting Rural Communities using WiFi) academic concept founded by Murray (PhD), Jamey, and Tony. 

The CRCNet Project was designed to be easy to use and to reduce the level of technical knowledge that is required to plan, build and operate a rural wireless network.

The project made it possible for rural communities to group together and get broadband style access to their schools and houses without having to rely on existing telecommunications infrastructure.

19 September 2002

CRCNet makes news & Wins government grant

Our rural sales agent will perform a desktop analysis w

The CRCNet project featured in the New Zealand Herald after connecting 7 rural schools close to Hamilton but out of range of existing telecommunications infrastructure.

The Waikato University won a grant of $927,000 for the CRCNet project from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology to install high-speed wireless internet service for eight schools from west of Te Awamutu to Ngaruawahia. 

here they will check there is an unobstructed signal from your home back to our tower. Once confirmed, an account is created and the installation process can go ahead.

Summer 2003 – 2004

Scott Raynel joins CRCNet

Scott Raynel (PhD) joined the CRCNet project to research the practical uses of wireless networks and how they can be utilised to bring fast and reliable internet to rural households. 

2004

CRCNet Rapid Deployment

Alongside the rural wireless network platform the CRCnet project is developed wireless equipment and software for use in rapid deployments.

Rapidly deployable wireless equipment can provide emergency networks for Civil Defence after a disaster or simply be used to provide a temporary Internet connection to the location of a special event.

CRCNet rapid deployment

2005

Prime minister visits CRCNET

Helen Clark (PM 2005) came to visit the CRCNet research project and personally test out the internet at the schools the CRCNet project connected. 

Helen Clark visits rural schools

May 2006

Rural link commercialised

The University of Waikato realised there is a market for wireless broadband for rural communities and the potential for CRCNet to become an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

On the 5th of May, 2006, Rural Link was commercialised to bring high-speed wireless broadband to the masses.

2008

Internet at uni dorms

With the rise of laptops at the Waikato University, the demand for internet grew. As a commercial entity, Rural Link, was cut off the university’s funding. Providing internet at the university’s dorms was Rural Link’s way of staying afloat while heavily investing in the rural network. 

2009

Prepay Internet

A prepay service was launched for students in dorms to pay for their internet. This initiative was eventually expanded to the apartments and the CBD.

August 2009

500 customers

In August 2009, Rural Link grew to 500 customers subscribed to a monthly broadband service.

2010

Rural Link at home

After seeing success with providing internet to the student dorms, Rural Link ventured further into the cabled internet (xDSL) market providing internet to properties around Hamilton.

2012

RURAL LINK CONSULTANCY​

The knowledge acquired from providing broadband to households throughout Hamilton and the University of Waikato made rural link an excellent knowledge partner for companies that want to break into the fibre market. 

2012

Rebranding to Lightwire

Andrew Johnson brought well-needed business discipline and investment into Rural Link. 

Under Andrew’s leadership, the company doubled down on our core competency, rural wireless broadband.

2013 – 2015

Investments into the rural network

With the help of newly acquired business discipline and investment, Lightwire made the biggest ever push into the network with 2 – 3 new site builds every month throughout the 2013 to 2015 period, giving thousands of households in rural Waikato the ability to connect to fast wireless broadband. 

August 2013

1,000 Customers

In August 2013, Lightwire grew to 1000 customers subscribed to a monthly service. Doubling the monthly customer number gave Lightwire’s senior leadership team the confidence to continue investing into the network.

November 2015

3,000 Customers

The heavy investment into the network paid off with 2015 being a massive year for Lightwire in terms of customer growth. 

2016

Lightwire Acquires Netsmart

Lightwire acquired Netsmart. Netsmart was the Bay of Plenty’s largest independent rural broadband provider that connected roughly 1000 households throughout rural Bay of Plenty.

2016

Lightwire Business

Brendan Ritchie approached Andrew Johnson with the offer to build out Lightwire’s business unit that specialises in serving businesses with internet, voice, and managed WAN solutions. A few days later Lightwire Business was born.

November 2017

5,000 Customers

Lightwire grew to 5,000 customers with the majority of the customer base located in rural Waikato.

2017

RBI2 Funding

In late 2017, Lightwire secured funding from the second phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative to build more high sites across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty. 

May 2021

7,500 Customers

All marketing was brought in-house over 2020 and 2021, and as a result, Lightwire saw a record growth in customers. 

May 2021

15 Years of Lightwire

On May the 5th, 15 years ago Lightwire (CRCnet/Rural Link) was commercialised. 15 years of Lightwire wouldn’t be possible without our great customers and staff.

Late 2001

The beginning of CRCnet

Initial CRCNet (Connecting Rural Communities using WiFi) research project founded by Dr Murray Pearson, Dr Tony McGregor and Jamie Curtis at the University of Waikato’s WAND Network Research Group, part of the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences.

The CRCNet Project was designed to be easy to use and to reduce the level of technical knowledge that is required to plan, build and operate a rural wireless network.

The project made it possible for rural communities to group together and get broadband style access to their schools and houses without having to rely on existing telecommunications infrastructure.

19 September 2002

CRCNet makes national news & Wins government grant

The CRCNet project featured in the New Zealand Herald after connecting 7 rural schools close to Hamilton but out of range of existing telecommunications infrastructure.

The Waikato University won a grant of $927,000 for the CRCNet project from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology to install high-speed wireless internet service for eight schools from west of Te Awamutu to Ngaruawahia. 

Late 2004

Scott Raynel joins CRCNet

Scott Raynel joins the CRCNet project to research the practical uses of wireless networks and how they can be utilised to bring fast and reliable internet to rural households. 

2005

CRCNet Rapid Deployment

Alongside the rural wireless network platform the CRCnet project is developed wireless equipment and software for use in rapid deployments.

Rapidly deployable wireless equipment could provide emergency networks for Civil Defence after a disaster or simply be used to provide a temporary Internet connection to the location of a special event.

CRCNet rapid deployment

2005

Prime minister visits CRCNET

Helen Clark (PM 2005) came to visit the CRCNet research project and personally test out the internet at the schools the CRCNet project connected. 

Helen Clark visits rural schools

May 2006

Rural link commercialisation

The University of Waikato through its commercialisation arm WaikatoLink entered into a joint venture with local rural technology company Rezare Systems to commercialise elements of the CRCNet research project.

On the 5th of May, 2006, Rural Link was commercialised to bring high-speed wireless broadband to households, businesses and communities throughout rural Waikato.

2008

Internet at uni dorms

With students increasingly bringing their own devices to campus, the demand for internet access outside of traditional computer labs was growing. Through its partnership with the University of Waikato, Rural Link began providing fixed-line internet services to students staying at the Halls of Residence while studying at the University. 

2009

Prepay Internet

In 2009 Rural Link launched Lightwire Prepay, a casual pre-paid WiFi internet service across the University of Waikato campus, Halls of Residence, CBD, and other locations such as sports grounds and events centres. This same platform also powered the Hamiltonline free CBD WiFi network.

August 2009

500 RURAL customers

Alongside the development of internet access on campus, the rural network was still growing. In August 2009, Rural Link grew to 500 rural customers subscribed to a monthly broadband service across its small Waikato network.

2010

LIGHTWIRE at home

The Lightwire Prepay service was expanded to provide internet access to apartment blocks and student flats across Hamilton, which allowed students who lived off-campus to use their same internet account both on and off campus.  

2012

Rural link consultancy

With its unique capability set stemming from an academic network research background coupled with real-world implementation know-how, Rural Link was an effective knowledge partner for organisations involved in leading-edge network deployments. Rural Link provided consulting and expertise to a number of organisations across the Waikato involved in building and maintaining next generation networks.

2012

Rebranding to Lightwire

Andrew Johnson brought well-needed business discipline and investment into Rural Link. The company was rebranded under the Lightwire brand which allowed it to operate more easily across different market segments. 

Under Andrew’s leadership, the company doubled down on our core competency, rural wireless broadband.

2013 – 2015

Capital Injection into the rural network

With the help of newly acquired business discipline and investment, Lightwire made the biggest ever push into the network with 2 – 3 new site builds every month throughout the 2013 to 2015 period, briging thousands of households in rural Waikato the ability to connect to fast wireless broadband for the first time. 

August 2013

1,000 Customers

In August 2013, Lightwire grew to 1000 rural customers subscribed to a monthly service. Doubling the monthly customer number gave Lightwire’s senior leadership team the confidence to continue investing into the network.

January 2015 & November 2015

2,000 & 3,000 Customers

The heavy investment into the network paid off with 2015 being a massive year for Lightwire in terms of customer growth. 

2016

Lightwire Acquires Netsmart

Lightwire acquired the broadband arm of Netsmart. Netsmart was the Bay of Plenty’s largest independent rural broadband provider that connected roughly 1000 households throughout rural Bay of Plenty. The acquisition allowed Lightwire to expand the geographic reach of its services into the neighbouring region.

2017

Lightwire Business

Brendan Ritchie approached Andrew Johnson with the offer to build out Lightwire’s business unit that specialises in serving businesses with internet, voice, and managed WAN solutions. A few days later Lightwire Business was born.

November 2017

5,000 RURAL Customers

Lightwire grew to 5,000 rural customers with the majority of the customer base located in rural Waikato.

2017

RBI2 Funding

In late 2017, Lightwire was contracted by Crown Infrastructure Partners under the second phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2). The implementation of the initiative enhances the broadband coverage in Waikato and Bay of Plenty to an extra 1,990 households and businesses, as well as 20 marae.

May 2021

7,500 Customers

All marketing was brought in-house over 2020 and 2021, and as a result, Lightwire saw a record growth in customers. 

May 2021

15 Years of Lightwire

On May the 5th, 15 years ago Lightwire (CRCnet/Rural Link) was commercialised. 15 years of Lightwire wouldn’t be possible without our great customers and staff.

Questions about Lightwire?

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Our friendly experts can answer any of your rural connectivity questions. 

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sales@lightwire.co.nz

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