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InternetNZ calls for thorough analysis of rural broadband options

Media Release - October 18, 2007 - InternetNZ (the Internet Society of New Zealand Inc) calls on the Government to undertake a thorough analysis of options for improving rural broadband, carving this project out from the current Telecommunications Service Obligations (TSO or “Kiwi Share”) telephony and dial-up reconsiderations.

In its response to the Ministry of Economic Development’s TSO discussion paper this week, InternetNZ puts the questions about broadband and the TSO into their proper context. “A first rate rural broadband strategy is critical,” says InternetNZ executive director Keith Davidson. “A broadband TSO/USO is one of a number of options available to Government and one cannot presume it is a preferred option – too much is at stake.” Davidson says the current TSO regime has been a disincentive for some new entrants and niche providers. “The complexity of the broadband market and the rate of technological change means it may not be appropriate or even practical to include broadband in the TSO. Internationally, a variety of approaches are being taken to affordable rural broadband that New Zealand can and must learn from.” In its submission, InternetNZ notes that broadband is key to New Zealand’s economic future, as has been illustrated by recent reports from HiGrowth/NZCID and the New Zealand Institute. “The debate is about how best to deliver broadband, not whether to deliver it,” says Davidson. The Appendix of the submission explores the background issues in rural broadband and considers some approaches and international initiatives that would be worthy of further discussion. “The TSO issue is interrelated with the broadband issue, but rural broadband issues need a wider terms of reference and there needs to be thorough consultation with key stakeholders. “There must be care to foster competition and to ensure that policy decisions don't detract unduly from competition and new entrants. Whichever solutions are adopted need to ensure that Government has in place a safety net for citizens and businesses whose needs won't be met by marketplace competition alone. “We encourage the Ministry to produce a more detailed paper developing the options and solutions, based on careful analysis.” For more information contact: Keith DavidsonExecutive DirectorInternetNZ021 377

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