Fibre, fibre, fibre

Very welcome news on Monday that Kordia is going to invest in a new fibre cable between New Zealand and Australia. Initially it will have 240 Gb/s of capacity. But it it not just the capacity that is welcpome, but the competition it will provide to and Telstra who have pretty much all the international bandwidth.

Southern Cross Cable has also announced a boost in capacity to 860 Gb/s so we will in a few years have 1 Tb/s capacity. But that only allows 125,000 to be using the Internet at the same time at 8 Mb/s or 1 MB/s.  The SCC has 2.5Tb/s maximum capacity but new technology may push this even further.

The other that has been in the news had been the NZ Institute’s proposal for how to get fibre rolled out to 75% of premises by 2018.  Basically they propose the creation of a dedicated fibe company which will do the last mile fibre to homes, and provide open access to all providers at a regulated price. They estimate this will cost between $4 and $5 billion based on 25,000 kms of fibre duct at $150,000 per km.

They also estimate that $3 to $4 billion of that can be met by private investment and that a Government commitment of $1 billion over ten years ($100 million a year) is needed to reach 75% of the population.

Bernard Hickey supports the plan and says:

The goverment has already posted a budget surplus before accounting gains and losses of $3.649 billion in the seven months to the end of January. That’s an average of $521 million a month.

Meanwhile our productivity growth keeps slowing, as this chart on the left shows. Just imagine if many of us could work from home with much faster connections and we could access overseas markets more easily.

Surely it’s time our government did something useful with that money to invest in the nation’s future. I can think of nothing better than spending $1 billion of public money to build a network that would generate around $4 billion a year in economic benefits. It would pay for itself in extra tax revenues within a year or two. Just imagine if the government had done this three years ago instead of wasting money with its nutty free student loans (bribe).

I’ve yet to fully get to grip with the pros and cons of the proposal, but I think it is an excellent contribution to the debate, and am trying to learn more about it.

Rod Drury has also blogged in support of it:

The FibreCo solution is very logical and I think takes into account the concerns of the many stakeholders around this issue. Some very smart people took the time to really think about this.

I like that it balances private and public sector needs. It builds on what we learned as a country in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. It is a savvy financial solution.

I think there is going to be a lot of discussion this year on fibre.

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