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Take outs from New Zealand

On the face of it New Zealand appears to have taken a much more measured approach to ultra-fast broadband. They are running fibre past houses, not into them. They are focusing on schools, hospitals and businesses first. And the government has given a subsidy expecting economic payback, rather than a direct return on investment.

In fact, Victoria Crone, GM of Sales and Marketing at Chorus, says the aim is to have a third of the population on fibre by 2020 and to make NZ a top 10 fibre country, thereby encouraging investment and driving productivity.

In the meantime many users have access to fibre to the node. But infrastructure competition is creating problems says Paul Brislen, CEO of the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand, with the Communication Commission reaching a final decision on copper pricing last week. The price cut will make copper based services cheaper and could inhibit fibre take-up. It’s a double whammy for Chorus, who will also make less from the wholesaling of copper.

So, should Australia follow New Zealand and build fibre to the node? Telecommunications consultant John Butt has doubts about his viability. Over there cabinets already existed and upgrading the technology for VDSL wasn’t expensive. Australia would need to deploy new cabinets, often for small numbers of households.

This week on CrossTalk we try and see what, if anything, we can take out of the New Zealand experience to assist in our forward telecommunications planning in Australia. Be aware, you might need to accept that they seem to have a better handle on things over there.

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