The internet is awesome; you can use email, learn heaps, and read sites like The Standard. Faster internet is awesomer; you can watch the Porirua market video without having to wait for it to buffer. Personally, I can’t wait until I’m getting the internet through a chip in my skull. Why, then, is National’s $1.5 billion plan to put fibre-optic 1gigabit per second broadband into everyone’s home a bad idea?
Let us count the ways:
- The current cabinetisation program, which is not costing the Government a cent, will deliver 20+ megabits a second into your home within four years. It is the same programme as Australia is rolling out. At 20mbps you can watch streaming DVD-quality video while you partner holds a video internet telephone call on other computer and your kid plays an online computer game all through the same connection. It’s bloody fast; faster than most people ever get close to using at present. So, 40 times that amount seems a bit excessive.
- It’s expensive. Key’s plan will cost $2000 per household, half from the Government, half from companies (who haven’t said they’ll pay yet)
- National plans to borrow the $1.5 billion. So you’ll be paying $1,000 plus a foreign creditor’s interest for a service you can’t yet use.
- We don’t have the people to do the job. Since it’s been privatised, Telecom has refused to invest in training technicians, and National cut skills training for nearly a decade in the 1990s. Now, we have a workforce shortage. Even the cabinetisation programme has required bringing in workers from overseas. A massive fibre to home project would require workers that just aren’t there.
- 20% of New Zealand households still aren’t connected to the internet. Far better to get these families computers than a fibre connection they can’t use. Better internet is important, and fibre to the home will have its time, but the important thing now is to get everyone connected first while offering a decent speed.
National has put the cart before the horse on this one. And, what’s worse, they’ll borrow to pay for the cart.