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News Worthy: Better Broadband for New Zealand

News Worthy

24 April 2008 - No. 245

Step Change - Better Broadband for New Zealand

New Zealand has fallen behind its global competitors when it comes to broadband. We've delayed the big decisions and put investment off for too long.

That's why on Tuesday, John Key announced that a National Government will invest up to $1.5 billion in an ultra-fast broadband network. This will help deliver the economic step change that National wants and New Zealand needs. It will truly future-proof our country.

Fibre to Home

National's medium to long-term vision is an ultra-fast broadband connection to almost every home, supported by satellite and mobile solutions where this makes sense.

Our initial goal is to ensure the accelerated roll-out of fibre right to the home of 75% of New Zealanders. In the first six years, priority will be given to businesses premises, schools, health facilities, and the first tranche of homes.

We also want to significantly enhance broadband access and speeds for households and premises where fibre to the home is not immediately feasible. We will accelerate high-speed broadband roll-out to rural and remote areas, with the first step being to double the Broadband Challenge Fund to $48m and refocus it on rural and remote areas.

National will ask interested parties to tender for the roll-out of fibre, and will work with local government to ensure it is doing everything it can to help.

The Crown's investment in high-speed broadband will be subject to a series of principles, including;

* Making the network open-access.

* Ensuring the government's investment does not see already-planned investments cut back.

* Ensuring increased broadband services and making sure the pockets of incumbent industry players are not lined.

National will conduct negotiations on a carefully thought-through investment and regulatory model in its first year in government.

Lifting Productivity and Opening Possibilities National's fibre-to-the-home goals are an essential part of a vision for a step change in New Zealand. The possibilities of this technology are endless. The potential productivity gains are huge. Independent experts estimate those benefits will be worth between $2.7 billion and $4.4 billion per year.

Fibre-optic technology to the home, business, school or hospital will offer download and upload speeds many, many times faster than most New Zealanders have ever experienced.

Workers won't have to always fly to meet with their counterparts in other cities - they'll have access to video-conferencing facilities instead.

Small businesses won't have to waste precious dollars on expensive toll calls - they'll make those calls at next to no cost over ultra-fast broadband.

New Zealand entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to be at the forefront of developments of this century's most important technology.

The ability to 'be' somewhere else without having to get in a car or on a bus will vastly improve New Zealanders' ability to work from home. Parents could choose to 'telecommute' - working from home while keeping completely in touch with their colleagues, even virtually attending meetings. The savings in travel time could make it easier to achieve work-life balance.

And, as people are able to do more virtually, we'll see less travelling by car and plane, reducing our individual carbon footprints. Ultra-fast broadband has the potential to help New Zealand significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, while improving our lifestyles rather than diminishing them.

Fibre to schools and children's homes could hugely enhance teaching and learning, while fibre to hospitals and medical centres could lift the productivity of the health sector.

Ultra-fast broadband will deliver huge economic benefits for our country, in terms of enhanced productivity, improved global connectivity, and greater capacity for innovation.

A hundred and fifty years ago, the government had the vision to build railways and highways to facilitate the movement of goods. Today, we need the Government to help lay out the information highways of the future.

To comment on the broadband plan, click here .

Political Quote of the Week

"In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." Bertrand Russell - 1950 Nobel Prize winner

ENDS

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