$100m govt investment in second Pacific cable urged
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A $100 million cornerstone government investment like that proposed by the Green Party in a second Pacific fibre-optic link, would have enabled Pacific Fibre to go ahead, says Lance Wiggs, co-founder of the now defunct second-cable venture.
The talented people discovered and recruited in the course of trying to stack up Pacific Fibre are still available, Wiggs says. “We learned a terrific amount”, the business model is still valid and the presence of a major investor willing to look more than a few years ahead for a payback is likely to make the vital difference to a hypothetical “PF2”, he says.
Wiggs was speaking at the launch of a Green discussion paper on ICT – not a final policy, says co-leader Russel Norman – which sees a second trans-Pacific cable as one of three vital elements to encouraging a thriving ICT industry in New Zealand.
A $100m investment in a second cable would be 0.8 percent of the $12 billion the government is spending on motorways, Norman says. For the sacrifice of 3.3 kilometres of motorway this would ensure a trans-Pacific fibre-optic link as an alternative to the Southern Cross cable, with consequent beneficial impact on competition, telecommunications pricing and the lifting of data caps for business and individual users, he suggests.
A thriving ICT industry would be a vital plank of a green economy, combining high income and job growth with low impact on environmental resources, Norman says.
The ICT industry is nearly seven times as big by revenue as mining, a sector the current National-led government is bent on encouraging, he says and it is about five times as big in job potential.
The other two main strands of the Green proposal are reform of public-sector ICT procurement, and other initiatives in education and training, together with commitment to the exclusion of patents on software, to encourage the growth of New Zealand’s ICT “talent pool”.
Echoing a core proposal from a procurement reform workshop coordinated by lobby organisation NZRise, the Green Party proposes that government agencies be “required to consider the wider economic benefit to New Zealand of supporting the
local ICT industry when making purchase decisions.”
The Greens propose government agencies should be required to use open standards for new ICT projects – that is standards that anyone can access, implement and influence, rather than their being under the control of one vendor or a limited group of
vendors. This makes it easier to interoperate with other applications. Agencies should use open-source software “where possible”, says the discussion paper.
The UK government had enunciated such ideals, but earlier this year modified them to accommodate the reality of the large market share held by proprietary providers. Norman says he hopes a pure open-standards position will be possible for the NZ government, but acknowledges there may have to be some concession in the proprietary direction here too.
Posted by Anonymous at 10:14:13 on December 20, 2012
Posted by Alan at 16:31:27 on December 19, 2012
Posted by Anonymous at 12:04:59 on January 14, 2013
Posted by Alan at 16:28:59 on December 19, 2012
Posted by Anonymous at 13:38:34 on December 18, 2012
Posted by Anonymous at 13:30:52 on December 18, 2012
What this project needs is investors that really want to be in this industry rather than making promises from soap boxes.
Posted by Anonymous at 0:51:11 on December 18, 2012
The government could easily have gone guarantor for $100 mill or so to back up the investment, and made it happen. Everyone could have been a winner (except Southern Cross)
Posted by Anonymous at 11:32:17 on December 18, 2012
Let's call it what it is: a Government bailout.
Yes, the Govt could easily sink $100m into speculative start-ups (especially when the Greens fire up the money printing machine), which would certainly "make [insert project here] happen" but isn't necessarily sensible, nor feasible.
In this case, even a supposedly crack team of backers couldn't convince investors it was a good idea. How delightful to have the Greens come along with a $100m Govt guarantee.
Posted by Anonymous at 12:07:12 on December 18, 2012
Hopefully another project will come along soon, and the Government will support it.
The timeframe to build already means we are behind the game, and in the meantime, why would you switch to a fibre connection when the data is actually going to be constrained just as much as it is on the old copper network?
Posted by Malcolm Dick at 22:19:44 on December 18, 2012