Leading technologist calls for fibre network

The Dom Post reports:

Technology analyst, author and former AT&T executive says New Zealand needs to forget about tinkering with Telecom’s relatively low-speed copper network and build a high-speed open-access network, one not controlled by telecomms firms.

Where networks were owned by the companies and not open to all service providers, the common message from companies was that bandwidth was scarce and consumers had to pay high prices.

Having a service provider own the network is comparable to having a car manufacturer own the roading network.

Holding up a length of fibre-optic cable, he said if the world’s 6.5 billion people picked up a phone simultaneously, all of the conversations would take up only 88 per cent of the cable’s capacity.

Yes, the capacity for fibre is quite amazing. Few technologies are future proofed, but this as close as it gets.

Mr Isenberg said a full fibre network would also ensure New Zealand maintained a high level of global communications should borders be closed because of a global crisis such as a pandemic, or when oil reserves finally declined to the point where New Zealand was again dependent on shipping as its main international transport.

Our long-term future is as what David Skilling calls a “weightless economy”.

Financing such a network connecting all homes and business, according to his “back of the envelope” calculations, would call for about $4.2 billion, and a new subsea cable with 1000 times the current capacity of the Southern Cross cable, roughly $2 billion.

The result would be fibre-delivered TV and telephone services and 100 Mbps symmetrical that would allow high-quality teleconferencing, which needs about 20 Mbps.

“There’s no reason New Zealand can’t build this network in five years. Japan did it. Amsterdam did it,” he said.

Nice to have an international expert confirm that the estimated cost and time-frame that is talking about is within the right ballpark.

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