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Additional undersea cable essential - InternetNZ

Additional undersea cable essential - InternetNZ
Media Release
29 November 2007

InternetNZ (the Internet Society of New Zealand Inc) welcomes the announcement by the Minister of Communications David Cunliffe that the Government will look at subsisiding an undersea fibre optic cable to provide additional international connectivity for New Zealand.

Additional international telecommunications links are essential for New Zealand, to reduce reliance on the Southern Cross connection and to ensure the robustness of New Zealand's connectivity to the rest of the world. An additional international link would provide crucial competition that could result in lower costs for consumers for international data, says InternetNZ Executive Director Keith Davidson. Furthermore, a new cable would give more opportunities to reach useful international peering points and provide greater divergency to paths to the ends of the Internet.

"We need the resiliency of multiple paths for data and telecommunications needs, and this will become increasingly important in the future. In terms of where such a cable should land in NZ, we also need to consider what may happen if the Auckland region were to suffer a natural disaster." It may be appropriate to think of bringing the link ashore in Invercargill, which would do much to make the data flows through New Zealand more synchronous. Currently data tends to flow to Auckland and then out through the international links.

A story in the Dominion Post today also suggests that a solid business case may exist for an additional cable, despite the incongruent claim in its headline that there is "No point".

The article quotes industry experts as saying that the cost of such a cable could be as low as $100 million. But just as importantly, a shared Government ownership of an international data link could ensure useful low cost connectivity for strategic networks such as the Kiwi Advanced Research & Education Network (KAREN), which is important to our future advanced networking needs.

"Large telecommunication firms naturally seek to apply full commercial rates for international data, which may provide disincentives to New Zealand’s participation in international research where huge data transfers are required," says Davidson.

"Our developing information industries, particularly the film industry, also need low cost high bandwidth connectivity in order to prosper and may find benefit from serious competition between international data connections.

"New Zealanders should not rely on the promises of monopoly providers that they will reduce prices. History tells us we need to be skeptical of these promises."

"The promise quoted in the article from Southern Cross Cable that it will "continue" to charge the same for United States data to New Zealand as it does to Australia is not sufficient. While Australia will have choice, we would remain beholden to a single provider, and at the mercy of commercial charging.

"What the quoted statements do suggest is that the cost of data transferring between Australia and New Zealand should be near zero."


ENDS

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