NZ budget announces broadband investment

Today’s budget in New Zealand unveiled the government’s broadband plans – a NZ$350 million five-year funding boost for a faster broadband rollout as one part of a package of infrastructure measures reports The New Zealand Herald.The package was inspired by the Nationals plans to spend $1.5 billion on a public-private partnership for a fibre-optic network by 2012.The Labour package will be “a targeted fund aimed at increasing speeds to businesses, universities, schools, hospitals and under-served rural areas.”The budget announcement forms part of a ten year programme that includes a Broadband Investment Fund that will accelerate broadband investment in the business, education, health and rural sectors. Some funds will also be dedicated to improving New Zealand’s international connections.The spending was broadly welcomed by InternetNZ (the Internet Society of New Zealand Inc). InternetNZ Executive Director Keith Davidson welcomes any increase in public expenditure on broadband, which he describes as critical infrastructure and essential for ongoing economic growth. The announcement confirms that the debate has moved to decisions on “when” rather than “if” better broadband is required.However in another New Zealand Herald story, Peter Griffin says “It’s an underwhelming response at best as TUANZ chief executive Ernie Newman points out. … It’s certainly not visionary, ambitious. That level of funding isn’t going to change the broadband landscape. It is incremental change that runs the risk of spawning numerous projects that overlap and don’t share a common outcome. But is it more realistic than John Key’s plan to get high-speed internet to 75 per cent of the country through a public-private partnership?”Broadband gets Budget funding boost (+video) of vision in Labour’s broadband plans welcomes government broadband plans; foreshadows independent assessment later this year [InternetNZ news release]

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