For what seems like the fiftieth time, we’re being told to expect an announcement from Steven Joyce on the shape of the Government’s ultra-fast broadband investment programme. It’s been nine months now and he hasn’t managed to produce anything solid, let alone get the legislative process underway.
Before the election, we were told that $1.5 billion would be enough public money to get fibre optic cable to 75% of New Zealand homes. The experts said it wouldn’t be. Now, Treasury says that achieving the Government’s goals would cost $5-$10 billion and there’s no way that enough of that is coming from the private sector. So, National appears set to redefine ‘fibre to your home’ to mean ‘fibre to somewhere near your home, not more than a k away, we promise, you’ll have to do the rest’. That isn’t a hell of a lot more than the existing commitment that Labour forced Telecom into to roll fibre out to every town with more than 500 phone lines.
National said that its investment wouldn’t just be a subsidy for Telecom and end up reinstating Telecom’s monopoly position. The experts said it would be. Now, all the foolishness about power companies and others investing in fibre has evaporated, and it’s clear that National will just be handing over $1.5 billion to Telecom and hoping to get a good deal.
Key has finally realised that $48 million they earmarked for rural broadband is a pathetically small sum. He’s now promising ‘hundreds of millions’ will be available. No word on where that money comes from, guess the money pixies have been busy again – funny how they show up when Key needs a few mil. The dirty secret, of course, is the pixies are just nicking the money from elsewhere and hoping no-one will notice.
Whatever plan Joyce eventually comes up with it might all be moot. Telecom’s so busy trying to drive what remains of our teleco workforce over the ditch that it will struggle to undertake any major upgrade programme.