Tuesday, April 22, 2008

National's broadband plans

National leader John Key has announced a massive investment in broadband, putting up $1.5 billion to roll out fibre to the home. Telecommunications policy isn't my area of expertise, so I'll leave it to the dedicated technology bloggers to do the serious analysis. But it looks good at first glance - the network will be open-access, and it supposed to avoid "lining the pockets of incumbent industry players". And it is a significant change of direction from National's usual policy of asset-stripping and looting the state - though given the low level of detail, there could always be a fish-hook in there which means that it really is all about those things (who will own the network is being left very vague, for example - surely if the government is paying for it, the people should own it? That's something Key needs to be pressed on, to make sure this isn't just a giant scam to give massive amounts of public money to existing providers).

I also have to comment on the amusing way Key ended his speech by appealing to public works projects of the past:

“One hundred and fifty years ago the government had the vision to build railways and highways to facilitate the movement of goods.

“Today we need government to help lay out the information highways of the future.”

Of course, when people like Vogel invested in the roads and railways, Key's ideological forebears called it "socialism".