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Council asked to speed up city-wide broadband



2 August 2006

Council asked to speed up city-wide broadband delivery

A more proactive role for Auckland City in facilitating the roll out of high-speed broadband services across the isthmus is proposed in today’s decision from the council’s Economic Development and Sustainable Business Committee.

The committee endorsed a “Digital Auckland” proposal to invest $450,000 this year and $600,000 annually from next year supporting the development of business cases for projects initially including:

- WIFI (wireless) project focused on the CBD and CBD fringe

- MUSH network (connecting municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals, focussed on the CBD and isthmus)

- laying council ducting when doing future road works

- micro-technology to deploy fibre networks

- a council portal with geo-referenced digital information about the city

The committee believes that a council-owned, open access WIFI service in the CBD could be operating within six months of council developing a proposal. It would have council content provided free and low price per day/mb connectivity.

“We’ve already set a vision of fast broadband access for most Aucklanders by 2010 and we’re encouraged by our talks with potential partners in realising our ambition for Auckland as a world-class broadband city,” said committee chair, Councillor Richard Northey.

“Our role should be to act as a catalyst to help the market deliver more competitive broadband offerings.”

Councillor Northey said the city could not ignore the economic and social benefits that could flow from affordable broadband, for residents and businesses alike.

“It helps businesses lower transaction costs, minimises the tyranny of distance and helps deploy new business models. For the wider community and individuals, affordable access bridges the digital divide, gives greater access to telemedicine, online education, and e-commerce.

“It is becoming an essential tool in participating in a modern society and economy.”

The committee is recommending to council that a specialist broadband team be established to develop business cases giving momentum to initiatives which council could partner with existing providers.

Councillor Northey and Councillors Dr Bruce Hucker, Leila Boyle, Richard Simpson and Scott Milne are to form a working group to consider and approve a submission to the Telecommunications Amendment Bill and liaise with an advisory group of outside experts on broadband.

“We’ve talked about it, we’ve agree we need to do something and now we need some action on making affordable, fast broadband available to all in a timely fashion,” said Councillor Northey.

“This is a great decision leading up to the Digital Earth conference in Auckland’s Aotea Centre on 27-30 August (www.digitalearth.org.nz) This event is attracting some of the world’s foremost thought leaders in the areas of sustainability and technology and credibly positions Auckland city as a base for this mega initiative.”


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