Ultra-fast broadband? Eventually, but not now

Written By: - Date published: 8:46 am, August 25th, 2009 - 17 comments
Categories: interweb, telecommunications - Tags:

ultra-fast-broadband mark 2

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.

pixiekeyKey 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.

17 comments on “Ultra-fast broadband? Eventually, but not now”

  1. The worst thing is that Cunliffe’s broadband challenge and the local loop unbundling was working and things were on the improve. Since the election and the ritual behedding of many policies such as this there has been a hiatus.

    The least that Joyce could have sone was to let current projects continue. Or is that hoping for too much?

  2. lprent 2

    Joyce appears to be a total bullshit artist when it comes to infrastructure projects.

    Not only do we have this ballsup, there is also the partially finished rail upgrades that he said would be finished after he pulled the regional fuel tax. That stalled the station upgrades, and they don’t appear to be moving.

    This governments attitude appears to have reverted to Muldoons one of screw aucklanders

  3. The Voice of Reason 3

    The lack of interest from the Tory leadership in the needs of the rural residents/farming community is symptomatic of the National party’s idealogical shift to the cities. They no longer give a stuff about the rural electorate, just assuming the mugs will keep voting for them.

    They still have a token attempt at recognising their roots by having a senior leadership position reserved for the representative of a rural electorate. Currently that’s held by Bill English who farms in deepest rural Wadestown.

    It’s little wonder that the small town I live in swung toward Labour at the last election. The lack of broadband and mobile coverage is holding back growth and opportunities in the heartland and the Nat’s focus on Auckland is doing them and us no favours at all.

    • ghostwhowalks 3.1

      English was chairman of the Lyall Bay branch of the National party, before he was elected to Parliament.
      A bit like Key who faked his rural Helensville address to get selection for Parliament

  4. RedLogix 4

    Fibre optic pipelines are a public utility exactly the same as roads, water, electricity and public transport. These services are all natural monopolies and subsidising private companies to own them is a proven nonsense.

    The best way forward would have been to fund the Regional Councils to own and build these things, using the private sector as contractors. The ducts and dark fibre itself (and in many cases being laid in existing public utility ducts) would remain in public ownership, while the various data and telecom services themselves could be run by the public sector via an open access model.

    But that was never going to happen with Joyce anywhere in the loop was it?

    BTW. Anyone else notice the obscene juxtaposition in the print Herald today? Front page has a few inches and a pic about Telecom’s Paul Reynolds getting a salary of $5m pa, while p2 has picketing lines engineers fighting to avoid a vicious contractual regime that would see many of them on less than the minimum wage.

    • RedLogix 4.1


      while the various data and telecom services themselves could be run by the private sector via an open access model.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      The best way forward would have been to fund the Regional Councils to own and build these things, using the private sector as contractors.

      IMO, that’s not the best way forward as it doesn’t remove the dead weight loss of profit. Better to have the national data network built and maintained by a publicly owned monopoly. Gets rid of regional councils doing different things and not coordinating with every other regional council (the problem that Auckland has had for the last few decades).

      while the various data and telecom services themselves could be run by the public sector via an open access model.

      This I agree with. Things like VoIP, web pages etc can easily be provided by anyone with a server although I think minimal open (possibly government mandated) standards need to apply to encourage competition. MS spent years, and was almost successful, in changing the internet to a proprietary standard with IE. It’s only recently that they’ve started to support the standard that’s been there since the beginning.

  5. Tut tut Ye of little faith!

    Any first year economics student will tell you, the invisible hand of the market is more than capable of laying broadband!

    Do you not live in the REAL WORLD(TM)

  6. Daveo 6

    David Farrar is in the pay of Telecom. Explains a lot.


  7. Jasper 7

    Now see, this is where I fail to grasp ahold of Nationals tenuous understanding of the situation.

    For the same cost that National is proposing ultra fast broadband, which will become ultra slow broadband thanks to having only one cable, we could divert those funds into getting a second cable laid to connect with the AUSASIA cable that Australia is embarking on to connect with mainland asia.

    Our solitary cable, while having now reduced costs, simply isn’t sufficient to cater to the needs of NZ. $50 million would certainly be a lot cheaper, and for more future proofing capability, in laying a second cable so that we really can have ultra fast broadband.

  8. bobo 8

    Doesn’t ultra fast broadband depend on another sea cable being layed to America? Unless we just want local traffic.

    • ghostwhowalks 8.1

      See above. We connect a new cable to Australia ( actually a T junction 120km off Sydney) who then connect a new cable to Guam, which is sort of a North pacific hub for traffic to between Asia and US.
      The deep ocean trenches towards Tonga Samoa mean its not practical to go in that direction

  9. Swampy 9

    Meanwhile the education sector is getting on with implementing their part of the broadband plan, and spending the money the government has given them.

    • BLiP 9.1

      Is that the $35 million National Ltd took off the disabled children in public schools to give to the rich schools – oooh, lucky them

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