A broadband world

Written By: - Date published: 2:24 pm, April 23rd, 2008 - 5 comments
Categories: inoculation, john key - Tags: ,

So John Key has announced that a National-led government would spend “up to” $1.5 billion on fibre optic cable to the home. Well that’s a good thing right? Even I can appreciate the importance of Kiwi homes and businesses getting access to high speed broadband (even if it is solely for the use of my children’s school projects!).

Here’s what a couple of the commenators in the field have had to say. First Peter Griffin from the Herald:

Ask the National Party what it plans to do in the area of telecommunications and broadband as I did of Bill English last May and you usually don’t get an answer of much substance.

That’s changed today with John Key’s announcement that a National Government would invest up to $1.5 billion towards building an open-access, FTTP (fibre to the premises) network in New Zealand.

In fact, it’s the opposite of what English was saying less than a year ago.

“We’ll have a good look at the [Australian Labor Party’s] proposition but we’re a bit concerned to see local bodies or central Government investing in these networks,” said English, when I asked him whether National would consider a publicly-funded fibre network along the lines the Australian Government is working on. “They need to be very careful that they’re not crowding out private investment,” added English.

A year has obviously changed a lot. The broadband debate has stepped up a notch and National’s play here with a sizeable amount of funding shows how seriously it now considers broadband to improving our productivity and growing the economy.

Chris Keall from PC World said:

During the recent Australian election, Labour leader Kevin Rudd promised major government money to boost broadband by laying more fibre-optic cable around cities and suburbs (some $A5 billion worth). The encumbent John Howard promised a relatively more modest $A2 billion path to faster internet, based around tweaking major cities’ existing DSL networks.

John Key’s announcement today that a National-led government would spend “up to” $1.5 billion on fibre optic cable to the home, in an as yet undefined public-private partnership, reminds me strongly of Rudd’s broadband play. Key says the total project, including around $3 billion in private funding, would take six to 10 years.

Encumbent IT Minister David Cunliffe has done a lot, from the historic unbundling of the local loop to pending operational separation of Telecom to recently nudging the state-owned Kordia to build a second fibre optic cable to Australia in partnership with Pipe (lousy internal broadband aside, the Telecom-owned Southern Cross Cable – our only major link to the outside world – is NZ’s major fast-internet choke-point). Broadband has got cheaper, but for many homes the benefits of unbundling and other policies won’t trickle down until after the election. Key is correct to identify slow internet as a major BBQ conversation topic and election issue.

So I guess that puts the ball back in David Cunliffe’s court as to what Labour’s plans will be.

If Mr Key took Cunliffe up on his challenge for a debate on National’s plan perhaps we could actually get some answers.

Though if Mr Key’s busy perhaps Mr English could take his place – it’d also be interesting to hear an explaination for his change of heart…

5 comments on “A broadband world”

  1. randal 1

    noo zillun has already become 95% infantilised so broadband in every home will just about complete the job. grand theft auto, fast and furious, nude babes on demand, what more could you want?

  2. Dancer 2

    not planning to have those items on my “popular sites for homework” list! I think if you have broadband you can forget what’s it’s like NOT to have it. My parents are on dial up – and there’s a whole host of things they don’t have access to as a result.

    Just accessing international media sites alone opens a whole new world (not to mention they could watch video of the grandkids). The infuriating thing is that if they took the step to broadband they’d see what I’m always on about!

  3. randal 3

    another boobie wanting to be fed instantly with mindless trash to enhance his experience and get brownie points on the hip meter! been everywhere done everything just aint enough. wah wahand dont forget the grandkids…that justifies trashing the planet instantly no questions asked.

  4. [lprent: looks like this comment got double entered. I’ll leave the later one]

  5. How intriguing that Telecom are so supportive of John Key’s proposal – it appears that government investment in infrastructure is likely to be part of a ‘private-public’ partnership between Telecom and State. This sounds ok until one remembers that Telecom used to be a state owned enterprise. The infrastructure was effectively paid for by tax… and then when it was privatized, a few people profited massively(think Alan Gibbs) whilst the rest of the country got shafted with mercenary prices for very little product. If the plan is once again to utilize public money to build infrastructure and bring a market up to profitability before then privatizing the profits and producing another monopoly (e.g. should the government then ‘sell’ over the infrastructure paid for by taxes at some ridiculous price as happened with the Telecom sale), I think we need to steer well away as this will turn out to be another costly and time wasting disaster.

    Economic theorists Laperche and Uzunidis (2006) ask, “Have the welfare state and industrial state transferred their power to a state whose main function is to regulate the conomy through permanent transfer of a substantial part of the social wealth to capital holders?” (as happened with Telecom, Air NZ, BNZ, and ECNZ). Further, they comment, “the financial behavior of the state, in terms of capital accumulation, is more and more similar to the one of big industrial and financial groups. The strong links of interdependence between those big organizations justify the transfer of resources from the public to the private sector” (p. 311).

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