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Open access fibre heralds a new industry paradigm

Mon 1 Nov 2010
FYI, this story is more than a year old

An open access fibre network is a huge opportunity for developing new business models based on innovative markets, which customers are embracing. We have found, with the rollout of the UnisonFibre network, that there has been a big uptake of business customers who have pounced on the opportunity to have fibre because they can do things they have wanted to do in the past, but previously couldn’t — like connecting to remote data centres. Our fibre network now exceeds 130km across four provincial cities and we are expanding it quickly.With fibre fast becoming the fixed infrastructure of choice worldwide, New Zealanders are within grasp of a grand opportunity thanks to the Government’s ultra-fast broadband (UFB) initiative.The NZ Institute has stated that the national benefits of a fibre network will result in an annual economic boost of $2.7?$4.4 billion, with further upside potential. New Zealand companies and individuals will find ways to work smarter, innovate and add new value to the economy.Fibre will also have an effect on what we consume, not to mention transforming data transfer, finance, distribution chain management, freight management, marketing, energy and so on. It will help transform health care, through remote diagnosis and remote patient monitoring. E-health is already in place around the world.I suspect exporters in areas such as high value manufacturing, design, computer graphics, software development and biotechnology services, will be eying up fibre as the essential business tool of the future.It will enable the step change they (and the government) want to achieve, just as refrigerated shipping enabled our pastoral farmers in the 1880s to overcome the tyranny of distance from markets.Through keeping pace with Australia’s fibre to the premise network build and, by default, making a high-speed nationwide fibre network our core telecommunications infrastructure, New Zealanders will be able to tap into a vibrant eco-system of vendors, carriers and 30 million end-users.It will be great for doing business, growing our economy and instantly connecting New Zealanders to the wider world. And that’s without tapping in to other Pacific Rim economies and numerous others further afield that are investing heavily in FTTD networks. Speed equals greater efficiencies, while the removal of network and capacity constraints provides opportunities never previously seen. Australia, Korea, Japan, Singapore, America, UK and many European countries are fast waking up to this and fibre is underpinning a new and unconstrained world. Genuinely fast broadband will increasingly define modern international cities and a modern national economy. Investment in a fibre network now will pay itself off very quickly through economic growth.We are already seeing fibre penetration rates of 30-40% in the US and Scandinavia, and much higher levels in Japan and Korea. Whether it takes five years or a decade, it seems beyond dispute that fibre will become the critical utility of the 21st century.If there are any doubters of this rationale, look up OECD economist Taylor Reynolds and see what he has to say about ultra-fast networks.Fibre will be the biggest boost to the New Zealand and Australian economies in the next decade, complemented by the expansion of access to an ultra-fast broadband network driven by cutting edge technology. It is clear there is pent up demand for greatly improved broadband infrastructure and to actually receive the connectivity speeds paid for by consumers, promised by telecommunications providers, but which are rarely delivered. Fibre is the only formula for satiating that demand.Under the government’s UFB initiative, pricing on New Zealand’s open access fibre network will be clear. With fibre networks, the opportunity exists for the retailers to innovate, bringing competition to the marketplace. There are limitless opportunities for fibre – something many retailers are beginning to seize. As the big pipe is opened we will see more and more new players emerging in the market.Being locally owned holds many advantages and numerous NZRFG members have already built fibre networks with shareholders in mind, backed by the benefit of local knowledge and making use of an extensive asset base. Historically, advances in technology breeds innovation that becomes transformational. Imagine New Zealand becoming a high-end service hub for the Asia-Pacific finance industry, as proposed by the Capital Markets Taskforce last year and subsequently endorsed by the Prime Minister.We’re talking a billion dollar industry and 3,000 to 5,000 high-paying jobs – unthinkable without fibre as New Zealand’s core infrastructure.The next few months will be a fascinating and exciting time for our infrastructural landscape, as the ink hits the paper for network build contracts with the government. 

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