$100 million for rural broadband

August 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

InternetNZ has welcomed a move by ICT Minister Amy Adams to top up the six-year, $300 million Rural Initiative (RBI) with $100 million more in contestable funding if National is re-elected.

Ms Adams has also promised $50 million to boost mobile phone coverage in remote areas.

The policy would be funded by extending the Telecommunications Development Levy, currently due to expire in 2016, for another three years.

The Levy (successor to the old Kiwi Share Levy that used to go straight into Telecom’s pocket) extracts $50 million a year from telecommunications companies, proportionate to their revenue (see Commerce Commission table right).

As the law stands, the levy will reduce to $10 million a year after 2016.

Funds from the levy go toward the RBI build, which is being carried out by contract winners Vodafone (building new cell towers fixed wireless broadband leg) and Chorus (fibre). Unlike the $1.35 billion the Crown is investing in various companies involved in the urban Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) rollout, the money does not have to be paid back, and Chorus and Vodafone get to operate RBI infrastructure on a commercial basis (with the proviso they give all retailers equal access). 

The fact the new funding is contestable is a blow for Chorus, which had been feeding off rumours that National will put more money toward public-private broadband. 

I think it is a good thing that the funding will be contestable, so rural regions get the best bang for the buck.

Today’s policy announcement has also put Labour on the backfoot. 

National has already comprehensively out-spent the previous Labour government on broadband; Labour’s ICT policy promised new spending in the region of $21 million.

Again, David Cunliffe and Clare Curran find themselves out-Laboured by Steven Joyce and Amy Adams.

Labour need all the spare money to pay families on welfare more money for staying on welfare.

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18 Responses to “$100 million for rural broadband”

  1. IGM (398 comments) says:

    Bugger the broadband, let’s just get rid of the German criminal who hacks others’ privacy with it.

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  2. polemic (460 comments) says:

    Steady as she goes in the rowing eight, very effectively releasing meaningful policy…. more good news :-)

    Compared to the fumbling Co Boat

    Again, David Cunliffe and Clare Curran find themselves out-Laboured :twisted: by Steven Joyce and Amy Adams.

    Ouch

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  3. EAD (1,087 comments) says:

    But aren’t National now spending more on welfare than Labour? If not, how come govt spending has gone up 33% in 6 years and WFF abatement levels are HIGHER now than under Labour?

    Or is it more comfortable for everyone if we argue in old left/right stereotypes that might have existed once upon a time when we actually had a democracy without all these “private members bills” or “conscience votes” jack-ups?

    Four legs good, two legs bad.

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  4. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    “he Levy (successor to the old Kiwi Share Levy that used to go straight into Telecom’s pocket) extracts $50 million a year from telecommunications companies,”

    if you listed all the ways the almighty government extracts money from its people.. outright terrifying!

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  5. Southern Raider (1,831 comments) says:

    As long as the money doesn’t go to VF.

    Using a mobile phone network to provide real broadband to businesses doesn’t work and the previous cheque to VF just enabled them to expand their voice coverage.

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  6. Lance (2,655 comments) says:

    “out Laboured”?

    But Labour hate farmers don’t they?

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  7. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    “But Labour hate farmers don’t they?”

    true, but they love spending cassshhhhhhhh

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  8. Gravelroad (155 comments) says:

    Hooray – great.
    Mobile phone coverage is very patchy, even along State Highway 1, which leads to safety and security risks for all users, including farmers, tourists, other road users and those keen on outdoor recreation pursuits.
    The true restricted extent of cell phone coverage might come as a surprise to many who maybe have taken such service for granted. The increasing level of txt voting and donating is another example of lack of coverage leading to lack of opportunity.
    There are many rural based business people, students and residents reliant on slow, super expensive satellite broadband because there is currently little alternative.
    These are individual and community equity issues. Just a pity they only come in for a bit of attention at election times.

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  9. Ed Snack (1,873 comments) says:

    Gravelroad, it’s always nice when you can trot out some emotive words to justify other people’s cash being spent on you. There’s little current alternative because it costs an arm & a leg to provide the service, and people who use it won’t pay the cost of providing the service.

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  10. Gravelroad (155 comments) says:

    So Ed,
    Do you ever leave the city?
    If you had an accident somewhere away from handy emergency services, would it be good to use your cell phone to call for help?
    I suggest you don’t drive around the top of the South Island then.
    Nearly $300 per month spent on the broadband and landline. That not enough?

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  11. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    What do trampers do when there is no coverage gravel? What did our parents do before mobiles were common ? They coped and adapted. You have alternatives if it is important to you. You could buy your own satellite phone for instance. Or get an RT system. Free yourself from the tyranny of telecom’s mobile network. The only thing in your way is your willingness to fund it.

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  12. Gravelroad (155 comments) says:

    Great for the insiders, Insider.
    Not so cosy for those on the outskirts.
    Do you disagree with extra investment in communications then?

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  13. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    I’m much more concerned about your personal safety not having a permanent connection to the emergency services. Perhaps the rural broad band initiative could include stretchy cables that could attach to your person wherever you go. Perhaps we could put a helicopter at your disposal too. Wouldn’t want you to feel marginalised for choosing to live in the country

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  14. Gravelroad (155 comments) says:

    Who is the “we” that could put a helicopter at my disposal?
    Can you supply contact details?

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  15. waikatogirl (437 comments) says:

    Don’t know about deepest, isolated rural NZ, we are less than 10 minutes from central Hamilton and can’t watch tv on demand without it crashing.
    Had to change phones back from VF to Telecom cause very little signal

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  16. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    The same taxpayer that you want to subsidise your 100% mobile coverage

    @ Waikato girl – how do you survive? You probably have to crap in a hole too

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  17. Gravelroad (155 comments) says:

    Insider
    Do you disapprove of extra investments in communication technology?

    If your answer is yes, aren’t you swimming against the tide of 21st century thinking a bit?

    If your answer is no, is it that you just disapprove of investments in communication technology for those living outside main cities?
    Am off to take the baby for a walk to feed the ducks. The baby is already as sensible as some adults and the ducks aren’t totally dim either.

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  18. waikatogirl (437 comments) says:

    Insider you have a huge chip going on there. Actually own business that pays lots and lots of tax so stick it in your ear!

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