The New Zealand Government today released the final details of its nationwide NZ$1.5 billion ultra-fast broadband roll-out, saying priority would be given to connecting schools, hospitals, health service providers and homes in new sub-divisions.
NZ Communications Minister Steven Joyce (Credit: NZ Govt)
"The future of broadband is fibre, and taking it right to the home will bring significant gains for productivity, innovation and global read," said Communications and Information Technology Minister Steven Joyce.
"The government is committed to bringing to partnering with the private sector to accelerate the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband services to 75 per cent of New Zealanders within the next ten years," he said.
In the first six years, priority will be given to connecting schools, hospitals, health service providers and homes in new sub-divisions.
The New Zealand government plans to seek co-investment from private sector partners to create local fibre companies to roll out fibre in 33 towns, not 25 as originally planned. A state-owned investment company ("Crown Fibre Holdings") will begin selecting such partners next month, aiming to complete negotiations in mid-2010, to establish "Local Fibre Companies" and manage the state investment in the fibre networks.
The LFCs will deploy fibre network infrastructure and provide access to dark fibre products, and, optionally, some basic wholesale services.
National and regional consortia would be allowed, despite Joyce rejecting a bid from Telecom NZ for a single national network and from Vodafone for a co-operative 'fibreco' involving the government and other telcos.
"At this point in time, Telecom's proposal is not sufficiently attractive to justify moving away from a contestable regionally-based process," he said in a statement. Telecom NZ was expected to make a statement this afternoon.
A Vodafone NZ spokeswoman told ZDNet.com.au the company welcomed the minister's announcement and government partnership, but would assess the details of the proposals before deciding whether to become involved in any way.
More positive was Ernie Newman, chief executive of the Telecom Users Association (TUANZ). "This ushers in the biggest and most fundamentalist change to telecommunications in New Zealand since the privatisation of Telecom 20 years," he said.
The final proposals finely balance the need between investors for predictable regulation and the desire for consumer choice.
"There will be important lessons to be learned from Australia, both in the infrastructure deployment and the usage. It is interesting that New Zealand and Australia are on parallel tracks and are ahead of many western countries, a fact that reflects the added value of connectivity to countries that suffer inherently from geographical isolation," he said.
Sydney-based analyst Paul Budde also saw parallels with Australia's much larger AU$43 billion NBN programme, which aims to connect 90 per cent of the country. "It looks very much like the Australian model, which has been applauded around the world," he told New Zealand's National Business Review.
Today's announcement also follows the New Zealand government in the past week also announcing a NZ$300 million scheme for rural broadband; plus another NZ$34million package to help schools.