More towns in line for ultrafast broadband

John Key
John Key
Small townships such as Alexandra and Cromwell could reap the rewards of ultrafast broadband under a National Party proposal to put up to $210 million towards extending the current programme.

Prime Minister John Key made the announcement today during a visit to the Waikato Institute of Technology.

Currently the ultrafast broadband (UFB) roll-out aims to connect 75 per cent of all New Zealanders by the end of 2019. Today's proposal would push that commitment to 80 per cent, which would reach an extra 200,000 New Zealanders, at a cost of up to $210 million.

"It's the most ambitious communications infrastructure programme in the world, given our low population density,'' Mr Key said.

Last week Mr Key announced a $150 million plan to extend rural broadband to sparsely populated areas.

"Together with today's announcement, this means almost every New Zealander will be able to access fast, reliable internet services.''

National's ICT spokeswoman Amy Adams said the extra towns to be included would be the result of a competitive bid process, taking into account the cost of deployment, strength of consumer demand, and regulatory and other assistance from local authorities.

"This could see a number of towns be strong contenders for inclusion in the UFB extension, including: Te Puke, Motueka, Morrinsville, Kerikeri, Huntly, Thames, Matamata, Otaki, Kawerau, Waitara, Kaitaia, Dannevirke, Alexandra, Stratford, Whitianga, Cromwell, Taumarunui, Picton, Foxton, Kaikohe, Marton, Te Kuiti, Katikati, Temuka, Waihi, Waipukurau, Warkworth, Carterton, Dargaville, Opotiki, Snells Beach, Te Aroha, Wairoa, Paeroa and Westport.''

She said there would be a competitive tender process for companies to build the extra network, and Northpower had already put its hand up.
She said the current programme was ahead of schedule and nearly 40 per cent complete, rolling out across 33 towns and cities.

"We have reached the stage where it's in reach of half a million premises across New Zealand. That means over a million New Zealanders are already within reach of the UFB programme.''

Reliable, fast internet has the potential to drive innovation, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth.

The funding is coming out of the Government's Future Investment Fund (FIF), which sprung from the partial sale of state assets.
Mr Key said the FIF was "certainly down to its last billion''.

Promises promises

Two election cycles ago National promised us broadband, I'm still waiting, large parts of the city still have no projected installation date. In a horribly anticompetitive move they gave the local contract to the local copper provider creating a monopoly with no incentive to spend the money to get things done fast.

All I can conclude from this is that either National does not understand how market economics work or it's all just more dirty and there's some other agenda at work here.

And the real story

Debt started coming down when National was still in office.

NZ economy was booming during the Labour years, mainly because of a consumer-led economy fuelled by private debt. NZ debt levels grew faster and larger and resulted in international commentators telling us we had as much debt (Combined government and private) as the PIGS countries.

Because Kiwis were prepared to take out this debt the government benefited from the increase in economic activity resulting in small amounts of government debt payment, but resulted in much higher combined debt.

Even though our government debt has increased (International commentators not too worried about government debt yet), our combined debt actually decreased as kiwis deleveraged and weren't prepared to borrow as much.

Even Michael Cullen said a government should borrow money to keep an economy moving during downturns, and because tax cuts account for less than $10 billion, this money has supported our social services during the worst economic times the world has seen since the great depression


More towns for UFB

National Party promises more money spent on UFB, more roads, extra parental leave, free doctors visits and a whole lot more.

Goverment debt to GDP is at 35.9%, we owe $86bn. But now that National is down in the polls, we can suddenly afford tax cuts.

Labour had 9 years of surpluses and got debt down to 17.4%. Who is the irresponsible party?