New Zealand Communications Minister David Cunliffe, at keynote speech to the TUANZ Telecommunications Day conference in Wellington on Thursday, reinforced the government's view that spending NZ$1.5 billion on an open-access fibre-to-the-home network was a "rubbish deal" that would only reinforce Telecom's monopolistic hold on the country's telecommunication infrastructure. However he did reveal that Labour is soon to announce an "amitious plan" that shall lay the groundwork for a national fibre network.

During his speech he said "I profoundly disagree on a recently proposed mechanism for achieving that goal [of FTTH]".

And on the matter of who would do it, "No one is willing to undertake a widespread Fibre to the home investment in competition with Telecom's services" and "Why would anyone make Telecom invest billions of dollars to over build their existing infrastructure?"

Mr Cunliffe, you like the government in Australia, totally miss the point on overbuilds. In most other OECD countries throughout the world there are two networks from which customers can choose their services; the incumbant's copper network and either an HFC or FTTH network. The advantage this creates is market driven competition, rather than heavy handed regulation that only fills the pockets of lawyers.

Many reading this article will say we are not like the rest of the world and our population is much smaller; none of these reasons are valid excuses. Take Telstra who makes $20b per year revenue with an enormous profit. They are the 12 largest telecommunications carrier in the world, and Australia has one of the smallest populations of the OECD nations. Having a competitive and modern infrastructure will generate investment and competition that will benefit the economy, the people and the country.

Several months ago Cunliffe also gave the thumbs down to the New Zealand Institute's FibreCo plan. However he seems to be afflicted with political schizophrenia; on one hand he is effectively saying it is unviable to build a fibre optic network on a national level, but on the other he agrees NZ needs such as network. What is so confusing about the government's position is they only just spent NZ$670million (about half the NZ$1.5m) buy back the railways.

The second half of his speech explained how government policies and regulation (there's that word again) have been put in place to support the operation of a fibre network. Their soon to be announced policy would enable the building of that network. We wait with baited breath.


Post a Comment