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Fast broadband access for all by 2010

AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL

MEDIA RELEASE

3 May 2006

Council wants fast broadband access for all by 2010

Auckland City Council is looking at partnering with existing broadband providers to introduce a high-speed fibre network as a first step toward securing an open-access broadband infrastructure for all city residents and businesses.

The council’s Economic Development and Sustainable Business Committee today adopted a strategic aim for Auckland city to be “an acknowledged smart city where all residents and businesses have affordable access to broadband” by 2010.

A report to the committee on options available to turn Auckland into a “broadband city” did not favour a council-owned network due to the high levels of investment required.

Similarly, an earlier idea of laying ducting or fibre along the Central Transit Corridor (CTC) from Britomart to Newmarket will not be pursued because the route is well supplied by existing network operators.

“The initial opportunity for us is to partner with an operator to use an existing network such as that along the CTC to connect with key anchor tenants without council laying its own fibre and to encourage the operator to extend the service,” says committee chairperson Councillor Richard Northey.

“The real issue we face is getting affordable high performance broadband services to those areas of the city which, unlike the CBD and Newmarket, are not well served. Operators tend to concentrate their high-speed offerings to areas bringing in the maximum return.”

Opportunities to encourage operators to move into under-served areas were also dependent on them being able to attach fibre networks to power or telephone poles (not currently permitted in the district plan) or for wireless operators to use light poles for wireless antennae (allowed in the central plan but a discretionary activity in the isthmus plan).

“There remain many issues to resolve but Auckland does not match up to ‘high-speed’ international standards which means we have to investigate ways of progressing from copper wires to fibre optic,” said Mr Northey.

“Broadband deployment across the city is critical to our productivity and economic growth.”

The committee agreed officers should investigate a partnership project to deploy fibre through the isthmus and to continue working on a regional approach for government assistance from the Broadband Challenge initiative, set up to enable development of affordable open-access broadband networks in under-serviced regions.

The committee also decided to seek an early meeting with the Communications Minister David Cunliffe to urge the unbundling of the local loop and high-end services, and to advance the strategic objective of making Auckland a smart city by 2010.


ENDS

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