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Brash bags broadband plan – TUANZ retaliates

30 Nov 2009

The 2025 Taskforce report released today by former National leader Don Brash recommends that the government’s $1.5 billion fibre broadband plan is put on hold.

Buried on page 115 of the report is a damning assessment of the Ultra Fast Broadband plan, in which it is compared to the notorious Think Big projects of the Muldoon era.

“It is an example of the apparent absence of a rigorous assessment of the economic costs and benefits of the plan (certainly such an assessment has not been made public),” the report reads.

“We would urge that, if at all possible, the initiative should be put on hold now, and subjected to a comprehensive independent scrutiny and evaluation of the economics of the proposal. This should include rigorous identification of factors and risks that mean private investors will not take up the opportunity without government involvement.”

TUANZ has shot back with a media statement in which chief executive Ernie Newman claims the report is out of touch.

“Ultra fast broadband requires such a leap of faith. Its impact cannot be predicted by any kind of cost benefit analysis. Yet thepotential isvery obvious to people with vision who see the enormous benefits that ICT and the Internet have brought over the past years, and who can extrapolate this into the future with the addition of far higher speeds.”

He praises the government for it “vision to foresee the future and take a bold step.”

The Brash report – entitled ‘Answering the $64,000 question, closing the income gap with Australia by 2025’ – comes after a recent study by independent researchers Motu in which they queried the business benefits of faster broadband.

At the time ICT Minister Steven Joyce dismissed the findings, and told Telecommunications Review that he was convinced about the economic benefits of the Ultra Fast Broadband. “I think with all these situations, as we look forward it gets harder to measure this stuff and I’m convinced that we’re going to see a Moore’s Law increase in the requirements for bandwidth in the next years. If I had any reservations 12 months ago, I don’t have them now.”