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#21306 22-Apr-2008 16:51
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The NZ National Party has announced the intention to invest 1.5 bn dollars in broadband with the deployment of fiber to the home (FTTH):

We can't just keep recycling history. We need to look ahead and future-proof our nation.

We need to carefully consider what the infrastructure demands of tomorrow will be and ensure we have a plan for meeting them.

I have thought long and hard about what New Zealand must do to secure our place in the world.

There is one modern technology that stands out in its terms of its ability to:

• Draw us closer to our trading partners.
• Put Kiwis at the forefront of technological innovation.
• Greatly enhance the way we do business and the way we communicate.

That thing is ultra-fast broadband for all New Zealanders.

I'm not talking about broadband speeds as we know them now. I'm talking about download and upload speeds many, many times faster than most Kiwis have ever experienced.

I want New Zealand to be linked by a network of fibre that ensures almost all premises – be they small businesses, schools, or households – can be linked into the main fibre grid with fibre right to their door. And when Kiwis can't get fibre connected to their home or place of work, I want them to have access to other high-speed broadband technologies, like those afforded by satellite and mobile.

With a fibre network like the one I aspire to, New Zealanders would be able to download and upload data from the Internet at lightning-fast speeds. Workers would be able to telecommute with ease. Video-conferencing could happen between seven people in seven parts of the country at once.

Achieving a "fibre to the home" aspiration of that sort would truly future-proof New Zealand.

Right now, most of us still depend on a copper wire of varying lengths, depending on where we live, to link us up to the main fibre network. That copper line may have been up to the job a decade ago, but in 2008 it looks like a dirt track when compared to the fibre highways we could be using. It just can't carry enough data fast enough to service the latest cutting-edge Internet applications.

Meanwhile, Internet technologies are becoming more and more 'bandwidth' hungry. In fact, this growth in global demand for bandwidth has been exponential, growing at a rate of between 50% and 100% every year.

New Zealand's slow deployment of fibre has placed a brake on our ability to take up the opportunities the Internet has to offer. We are missing out on the real promise of this century's leading technology.

That's the bad news. And I'm afraid there's not much good news.

Over the next five years, Labour and Telecom's plan is for fibre to be linked up to 'cabinets' in some communities and for that fibre to then be connected to homes and businesses through bits of copper. Labour has no plans to link fibre to the premises and homes of everyday New Zealanders.

In Labour's words, "the economics for this [fibre-to-the-home] to occur in the short to medium term are simply too challenging".

I don't think Labour's plan is nearly ambitious enough to future-proof New Zealand.

The volumes of data and the speed a copper kilometre can carry are just not even comparable to fibre to the home. There's no doubt that the future for broadband must involve replacing that copper with fibre.

Fibre right to the home promises huge gains in productivity, innovation, and global reach for New Zealand. Those are the things that will make our economy richer. Those are the things that will ensure New Zealand families have incomes that keep up with the cost of living in the world of the future.

So it's pretty disappointing that right now no one is planning to invest in a fibre-to-the home and premises broadband network for New Zealand.

Sure, fibre has been rolled out to the premises of some lucky big businesses and some niche areas. But beyond that cherry-picking there is no obvious will from the private sector to invest in a wider fibre-to-the-home network.

Private operators have judged that for the foreseeable future, connecting fibre to homes just won't deliver them or their shareholders enough of a return. They have made this judgment based on their private interests, and that's fair enough.

But I think that lack of investment represents a significant market failure.

Private businesses naturally don't take into account the returns that a nationwide fibre-to-the-home network will deliver to the public as a whole.

However, every year private businesses withhold that investment is another year in which Kiwis miss out on access to the technologies and communication capabilities that are defining the modern world.

I think this is a case where a future-thinking Government, with a view to the long-term and an appreciation of the wider public benefits, needs to step in.

But, as with any market intervention, we must be very careful about how that is done.

In Government, National will have two key tools available for speeding up the roll-out of fibre-to-the-home. The first is regulation, and the second is capital investment from the Crown Account. Neither of those tools should be wielded lightly. Indeed, National has considered very carefully whether a case for these steps exists at all.

Our judgment is that it is in the best interests of New Zealanders for government to act to ensure our country has the future-proof broadband network needed to secure New Zealand's global competitive advantage.

National's medium and long-term vision is for a fibre connection to almost every home, supported by satellite and mobile solutions where it makes sense to do so.

Our initial goal is to ensure the accelerated roll-out of fibre right to the home of 75% of New Zealanders.

In the first six years, priority will be given to business premises, schools, health facilities, and the first tranche of homes.

In achieving this we also want to significantly enhance broadband access and speeds for those households and premises for which fibre-to-the-home is not immediately feasible.

Today, I want to lay out the principles that will guide National as we construct a model for ensuring that this vision and these goals are realised.

First, we want to be sure that any taxpayer money we invest in fibre results in a measurable increase in broadband services – and doesn't just line the pockets of incumbents seeking windfall gains. We want to ensure that the Crown's capital contribution does not lead to any reigning-in of investments already planned, such as Telecom's 'cabinetisation' plan.

Secondly, National wants to ensure that any fibre network that the Crown takes a stake in is open-access. We want to ensure that many service providers can compete to provide services over that fibre network, because we believe this will result in the best and cheapest services for consumers.

Thirdly, we want to get the right balance between on the one hand ensuring any fibre roll-out does not result in excessive duplication that may prevent investment in other parts of the network, and on the other hand ensuring it does not cement-in an undue advantage for existing providers.

Fourthly, National wants to ensure that the public return from any Crown investment is partly realised in lowering cost barriers that could prevent consumers taking up leading-edge 'triple-play' broadband services. We want to ensure that our valuable investment in fibre to homes and premises actually results in substantially increased uptake of ultra-fast broadband services.

Finally, National wants to ensure that our investment model captures the innovation and expertise of the private sector. In doing that, we want to ensure that fibre solutions are rolled out with a view to New Zealand's economic future and not with a view to protecting the legacy assets of New Zealand's economic past.

Delivering on these five principles will require a carefully thought-through and negotiated investment and regulatory model. National will conduct these negotiations in our first year of government. As Prime Minister, I intend to take a leading role in them.

In doing so, I will be wary of the kind of shadow-boxing that has all too often typified the relationship between government and the telecommunications industry. I won't put up with game-playing. If that means knocking some metaphoric heads together, then that is what I will do.

In conducting these negotiations, National will have some significant cards to play.

Today, I am pleased to announce that, subject to adherence to the principles I have just laid out, the next National Government will contribute an investment of up to $1.5 billion in Crown capital over six years to accelerate the roll-out of a fibre-to-the-home network for New Zealand.

National will invite interested parties to tender for the opportunity to roll out the fibre in ways that meet our initial goal and long-term fibre-to-the-home vision.

We will also work with local government to ensure it is doing everything it can to facilitate the roll-out of the fibre network. We will be clear, for example, that future road construction undertaken by local government will have to take the Government's fibre objectives into account.

National will also take additional steps to accelerate the roll-out of high-speed broadband services to rural and remote areas.

As a first step, we will double the size of the Broadband Challenge Fund, from $24m to $48m, and give it the primary focus of providing fast broadband solutions for remote and rural communities. Due to the typography of many of these areas, these solutions will have to include a mixture of fibre, satellite, and wireless technologies.

National's fibre plan entails significant Crown investment. It will be a growth-enhancing investment that will help New Zealand take a major step up.

There is no doubt in my mind that speeding up the introduction of fibre-to-the-home across New Zealand will provide very positive returns to the economy as a whole, which will in turn benefit all taxpayers.

At the end of the six-year period over which the $1.5 billion investment is made, National will undertake a transparent stock-take to assess the progress towards our fibre-to-the-home vision. The results of this stock-take will inform any future regulatory or investment intervention in the telecommunications market.

National's fibre-to-the-home goals are an essential part of our vision for a step change in New Zealand. We believe that ultra high-speed broadband, as afforded by fibre-to-the-home, can deliver dividends for New Zealanders in all walks of life.

Fibre to the home and premise will deliver huge economic benefits for our country – in terms of enhanced productivity, improved global connectivity, and enhanced capacity for innovation. It will help deliver the economic step change that New Zealand needs to significantly lift average incomes over time.

Independent experts estimate those benefits will be worth between $2.7 billion and $4.4 billion per year.

That's no surprise – just think of the productivity gains. Workers won't have to always fly to meet their counterparts in other cities, they'll have access to video-conferencing facilities instead. Small business won't have to waste precious dollars on expensive toll calls, they'll make those calls at next to no cost over ultra-fast broadband.

Kiwi entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to be at the forefront of developments of this century's most important technology. If dial-up could deliver Trade Me, who knows what could be done with fibre-to-the-home?

The ability to 'be' somewhere else without having to get in a car or onto a bus will vastly improve Kiwis' ability to work from home. Mums and Dads could choose to 'telecommute' – working from home while keeping completely in touch with their colleagues, even attending virtual meetings. The savings in travel time could, in turn, make it easier to achieve work-life balance.

And, as people are able to do more virtually, we'll see less travelling by car and plane, in turn reducing our individual carbon footprints. Ultra-fast broadband has the potential to help New Zealand significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. It can do so in a way that will allow us to enhance, rather than diminish, our lifestyles.

Fibre to schools and children's homes could hugely enhance teaching and learning, while fibre to hospitals and medical centres could improve the productivity of the health sector.

The possibilities are, as they say, endless. We can't begin to envisage them all today.

What we do know is that fibre technology is more important for New Zealand than it is for just about any other nation.

Our small size and our distance from other countries make it hard for us to compete with the rest of the world. Ultra-fast broadband will help us overcome both of those things.

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.

New Zealand has already fallen behind our global competitors when it comes to Broadband. We've delayed the big decisions and put investment off for long enough. Every year that goes by with us languishing behind other countries is another year of missed opportunities.

The current government is not ambitious enough for broadband in New Zealand.

Labour thinks fibre-to-the-home in the short to medium term is "simply too challenging". National doesn't.

We will do what it takes to ensure New Zealand has the competitive edge needed to prosper in the world of the future.

Our country has missed too many opportunities already. National is determined not to miss the ultra-fast broadband opportunity as well.

National is ambitious for New Zealand and ambitious for New Zealanders. Our fibre-optic broadband vision is a key tool for realising that ambition and it's one I'm very proud to put my leadership behind.

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  #125600 22-Apr-2008 16:55
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I'll be voting for National, not too worry about more affordable housing etc but yeah it is good! Hope he delivers!


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  #125603 22-Apr-2008 16:58
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Must be election year, my fanciful-bribe-o-meter just bent the needle.

So he wants to spend 1.5 billion dollars (and let's be realistic, better make that 3 billion by the time budgets overuns and prices increase), that's (asuming an American billion) $1,500,000,000.  Where exactly is that coming from, certainly not from the taxes we pay, because Mr Key also reckons he's going to give that back to you in cold hard cash.

You can't have your cake and eat it too.

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  #125612 22-Apr-2008 17:31
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Forward thinking as far I'm concerned , why have outdated technology like dsl when you can start looking forward to the advanatges of Fibre, so judging by this the only people in NZ that could realisticlly roll out a national fibre network were only ever going to be Telecom and possibly one other government backed so now we have 2 wholesale fibre networks and this can only be a good thing.

And hopefully when they get in they will roll this out faster than what we see LLU happen, And I for one know that a fibre connection is far better than a DSL one, trust me I know I will post shortly the current speeds over the pilot ones we are working on now and it dosn't matter how far away you are from the exchange and every one of them are fater than any DSL / DSL2 offerings now Wink

Be interesting to see what the LLU guys think, that is if they havn't started slitting there wrists yet Tongue out

Yes I am a employee of WxC (My Profile) ... but I do have my own opinions as well Wink


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  #125635 22-Apr-2008 18:47
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Grrr, there goes our millions of investment in LLU - we better vote Labour and stop this plan (so say the unbundlers).

I certainly agree fibre to the home is really what we should be aiming for. I think Telecom are probably kicking themselves that they just didn't byte the bullet and get this done years ago with the trials in the mid 90's. We could be there already, yet we are stuck with continued investment in old copper.

I'm not too sure about satellite options for rural though, unless there has been significant advances here (i.e. the latency issues). But if you're that remote, then I guess that's your only option.

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#125636 22-Apr-2008 18:53
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Well, just notice couple of pigs flying outside, better rush and catch them....
yes.. talk is cheap...

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  #125676 22-Apr-2008 20:24
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sleemanj: Must be election year, my fanciful-bribe-o-meter just bent the needle.

Mine too.
But with the choices being fiber or the warm fuzzy feeling for not accepting an election bribe...
I think I'll take the fiber.

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  #125683 22-Apr-2008 20:52
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I think National is really out of touch on what's needed and there policy's are week and only full of words that people want to hear.
Everyone wants fibre but getting it delivered take more than words, and it's a suck in that it hands power back to the incumbent monopoly.

At least there copyright will be more laxed (point at john keys dodgy use of music on his promo dvd).

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  #125688 22-Apr-2008 21:03
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Bribe or not, good on them for promising something useful for a change.

Now I reckon I've got about 3-6 years to organise some walls, aircon and a raised floor for my carport....

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  #125697 22-Apr-2008 21:27
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I don't know where they think the money is comming from.

Currently, to lay fiber to my door cost $8500, and how many homes and business is National going to fund for this projects. $1.5 billion divided by $8500 is 176470.  That doesn't fit much of New Zealand really.

Digital Nation website quote:
Installation cost starts at $8500/pair + GST in buildings that are close to our network.

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  #125707 22-Apr-2008 22:00
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As Thomas L. Friedman once said: Fibre is the gift that keeps on giving. Once it's in place you can just keep upgrading the smarts at each end as the technology improves.

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  #125708 22-Apr-2008 22:00
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Um have to say this is forward thinking, certainly if the current lots best effort is to Split Telecom up and unbundle, they have not a chance.

Good to see some good policy with a vision in mind, a more productive society. 
Delivering better broadband services

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  #125719 22-Apr-2008 22:37
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Quote from National document;
Over the next five years, Labour and Telecom's plan is for fibre to be linked up to 'cabinets' in some communities and for that fibre to then be connected to homes and businesses through bits of copper. Labour has no plans to link fibre to the premises and homes of everyday New Zealanders.

The cost to speed ratio is much better for New Zealand with cabinets than getting in that last mile. It does show that National is not up to date on technology needs, the speed of the adsl2+ is very nice for most of the users out there.

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  #125736 23-Apr-2008 00:55
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ADSL2+ is still asymmetric.

10Mbps/10Mbps with a good (50GB+, or 30GB unlimited national) for $60/mth

rm *

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  #125742 23-Apr-2008 06:13
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Will be interesting to see what kind of topology gets chosen and what kind of backhaul and international connectivity plans get thought up. Its all very well having a nice network, but its kinda useless if we can't get decent access to the overseas markets.

As much as I like the idea of running my own data centre from home, most kiwi's dont need that kind of bandwidth. He talks of video conferencing and telecommuting - its not really that we need FTTH for that, we just need a nicer backhaul network with less contention and less latency. ADSL2+ or maybe VDSL etc would do perfectly fine for the things he is touting, and would require significantly less up front investment.

I absolutely agree that local councils should be more forward thinking with their developments - whenever they are installing roads, drainage, lighting, storm water, fresh water etc they should be putting in utilities tunnels such that the road doesnt need to be dug up every time someone wants to lay a cable. FTTH instead of copper should definatley be rolled out to new subdivisions - its silly putting old technology in the ground. However, cabinetisation would do fine for areas where copper is already in the ground - albeit so long as the cabinets and DSLAMs/ISLAMS etc are open to use by all providers with perhaps a shared fibre backbone and no limits on connection metrics for other than purely technical reasons.

I guess it comes down to whether you agree with Nicolas Carr and his 'IT Doesn't Matter' article - ie IT is an infrastructure like roads and railways. It would be a bit silly if we had competing roading networks right? So we build a shared network and compete on content (ie cars, trucks etc). I am quite hesitant at the thought of government controlling a broadband network (last thing we need is technology driven by political manouvers), but I like the idea of government funding for networks running under a shared governance model with the public good through innovation as their guiding principle. I wouldn't mind seeing the government's interest controlled through an SoE or independent commission of some sort.

I am certainly looking forward to more detailed policy from Mr Key and Ms Clark's response. At the moment it seems National has seen the FibreCo stories and swallowed it whole.

Maverick, would you really prefer to compete on standard technology, or would you prefer to compete on content, creative services, and customer service (things that your company seems to be quite good at)? I would hate to think that the government would hand a monopoly back to Telecom, but surely we'd get a good open network faster if they pooled their resources and came up with a plan that future proofs new investment and provides a prudent upgrade path for legacy investments?

Maybe i'm just a communist hippy or something lol.

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  #125754 23-Apr-2008 08:07
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Firstly some said one said "National is out of Touch"...sorry but I couldn't disagree more I personally think they are finally someone that is in touch and thinking about what’s after next week, too many people complain and don't do anything about it, here National are taking the Digital strategy to the next level and look like they are going to back it up with action by making these commitments, there is obviously still the devil in the detail but at least they are looking beyond tomorrow. If only someone had applied the same philosophy to the Motorways in Auckland instead of thing just a few years a head, but hey 3 lanes and one way into the North Shore is good enough isn't it.

Mushion22 You raise some very good points here but the real question and it is the most important one I think is

"would you really prefer to compete on standard technology, or would you prefer to compete on content, creative services, and customer service "

Now this is the whole crux of the matter for competition in New Zealand telecommunications debate and the whole LLU vs. Wholesale argument.

The key word is that Fiber / DSL is only Access what we want to deliver is content and services whilst giving "good customer service" (little plug there for the Customer Care teams ) but services are going to get more and more intensive, more content higher bandwidth , now the thing to remember here is while some of the newer DSL technologies can deliver higher speeds it still requires to be close to the customer to get the higher speeds, "Speed is directly proportional to distance" the further away you arte the slower the speed. DSL services can never compete with Fiber based services, DSL has limiting factors around speed and distance , Fiber does not you don’t have to change the fiber to go from 100 Mbs to 1Gb just the CPE and Network interfaces, DSL technology can't do this. 

Now Telecom are laying Fiber in all new subdivisions that’s a fact they are also fibering cabinets that’s also a fact, why.... to reduce the amount of distance that existing copper has to go to the customers house, why....shorter copper loop faster speeds, the next logical step from here is what ....FTTH from the cabinets

What’s the advantages......Speed and Bandwidth, DSL is an older technology hey it's fine now and can achieve some good speeds but what happens in a few years are they going to be fast enough , think about where the Internet has come in NZ in the last 10 years , 10 years ago PC's had 40 Mb hard drives , your Internet connection was a dial up modem,

Where have we come in this time and how fast is the technology growing look at the demand for speed and bandwidth in the last few years, do we want to be left behind yet again because of getting stuck with older technology, in 10 years if we only DSL based services people will be crying out about "if only some had the foresight to build a national FTTH network"  basically we have to get out out of a this small mind set and think about the future.

Companies are investing a heck of a lot of money in deploying DSL technology with LLU and the such to bring higher speeds to the table, Telecom, Vodafone and Orcon etc are deploying ADSL2 at present but even though there was a huge song and dance about LLU at the start (almost 2 years ago I think )  and the media people made a huge point when they said LLU was the way to go for all NZ's and it was coming to a town near you soon , but really they haven't more of a way to get public opinion on there side "Tell you want you want to hear....borrowed from the same person that said national is out of Touch" but it is the same old commercial model do the big areas first and try to get as many customers before the rest  , why is this ....Cost  Cost and more Cost ,this is expensive to do folks so unless your the size of Telecom or Maybe Vodafone you are not going to cover all the country. but now we have someone that wants to push a plan to look to cover most of NZ with Fiber and sell it to wholesale customers, so what we will have is telecom and one other competing on Fiber networks for wholesale customers, 

What will this mean 
Services and a lot more of them, wholesale customers will have a choice of future proof networks to deliver their content and services over, Pay TV, Video on Demand, SKYTV, Voice, Data, Video Security, online backups, bigger , faster better the list could go on but the big thing is that you will not be able to say "we can't deliver that as the connections is to slow"

There is a huge amount around this, there is backhaul, topology design  equipment  commercials etc and that is not to be underestimated as it's a huge task, but lets not get afraid of a huge task or a challenge, I for one love a challenge and think National should be applauded for showing some guts and leadership in trying to bring the nay Sayers into the 21st century.

Just my thoughst guys there are going to be a lot of others in the industry that will probably have varying opinions and I'm guessing thet anyone that is involved with LLU won't be to happy but hey thats a good thing debate is good, I could go on about this for a while but off to work on the Fibre to Home project now Wink.....Wonder how fast I can get it to go today 30Mb will do for a start I think Tongue out

Yes I am a employee of WxC (My Profile) ... but I do have my own opinions as well Wink


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