Two Microsoft executives have said that Australia's approach to its National Broadband Network is better than that of New Zealand with its Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative.
Mark Rees, Microsoft national technology officer of New Zealand Public Sector & Government, and Oliver Bell, Microsoft regional standards officer Australia and New Zealand, published an opinion piece on the two broadband initiatives in the Microsoft Futures Magazine, which was republished on the Microsoft Australia Government Affairs blog.
Although the countries were on the same page as to why they needed a fast broadband network operating across their nations, New Zealand was behind when it came to thinking about what to do with the newly built infrastructure, Rees and Bell believed.
The Microsoft executives said that the New Zealand Government was allowing the private sector to build the services that use the network, with the idea that while the government will build the network itself, the private sector will make sure the country gets the benefits from it.
Meanwhile, the authors pointed out that the Australian Government has been supporting research to develop services and content that will use the network through the University of Melbourne's Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society. NICTA, CSIRO and the NSW Government have also partnered on a broadband centre in Marsfield, NSW. The Tasmanian Government also asked for help on how it could best use the National Broadband Network last year.
Rees and Bell were concerned that New Zealand's "laissez-faire" won't give the nation its bang for buck.
"Unfortunately, to date, the public debate has primarily centred on the details of the project to roll out the network, ie, who will win the tender, how they will be engaged. There is a paucity of constructive dialogue about the ways the network can be used and how New Zealand, as a country, maximises its return on this national investment," they said.
They believed that government could play a greater role in bringing together companies, academia and international experience to make sure that the benefits of fast broadband materialise.