Having a cost-effective national telecommunications infrastructure is vital if major broadband projects like the NBN are to be adopted by industry and consumers, according to two communications managers.
Speaking at the Korea-Australia-New Zealand (KANZ) Broadband Summit in Tasmania, NBN Co’s stakeholder relations spokesperson, Cassandra Scott, and the New Zealand government’s manager of communications and IT policy at the Ministry of Economic Development, Brad Ward, both shared their experiences of rolling out a national broadband network, with both saying that affordability was important to the success of these kinds of projects.
“Wherever we look, it is access to affordable telecommunications infrastructure that really does make a difference,” NBN Co’s Scott said.
“There is a deliberate incentive for access seekers to have access to wholesale prices as well as access to the user interface.”
Ward agreed, saying that the New Zealand government views reasonably priced services as being vital to the uptake of its national fibre broadband network.
“There are a lot of questions around what is government and industry's role in demand and uptake, and what does industry do to incentivise uptake,” he said.
“The New Zealand [government] position is to get the price point right, and that’s what we’re doing through the UFB [Ultra-Fast Broadband] and the RBI [Rural Broadband Initiative] negotiations.
"At the end of the day, people will transfer to new technology if the price is right.”
Scott said NBN Co has ensured comparative pricing through large investment with taxpayer funds, which will be returned over a longer period of time.
“The entire NBN will cost $36 billion, and this investment will be returned to the taxpayer over time,” Scott said.
“The NBN will cost less than the value of tax cuts delivered in the past three years in Australia.”
Ward said that in his view, the New Zealand public should not be encouraging uptake in the government’s broadband plans, but rather base any decision to join a government-funded broadband project based on its cost effectiveness.
“My personal opinion, having worked in business and government, is that why would I want to listen to someone from government tell me to take up a new infrastructure?” he said.
“Surely as a business person, as an industry, I would want to see what my peers and competitors are doing and take that up myself.”
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