Rural New Zealand’s growing anger at substandard internet connections is catching up on the Government with panicked, unfunded and unambitious promises made by Communications Minister Amy Adams.
That’s the damning verdict of Labour ICT spokesperson Clare Curran, questioning plans to guarantee 99 percent of New Zealanders access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps (up from 97.8 per cent getting at least 5 Mbps under RBI) by 2025.
“National's 'aspirational' target for broadband connectivity in ten years’ time is a cynical attempt to distract from the under-delivering rural broadband,” Curran claims.
“The Government knows that regional New Zealand is suffering from sub-standard connectivity. Even National Party backbenchers have openly complained about the state of rural broadband.
“Now Amy Adams is scrambling to sound as if the Government has a plan for rural New Zealand.”
According to Curran, $300 million has already been spent on a rural broadband scheme that has subsidised commercial networks but delivered “little real value.”
“It is doubtful that another $100 million will make a significant difference after the first $300 million proved so ineffectual,” Curran adds.
“The new broadband target does not come with any extra funding or an actual plan to achieve it, so it’s likely to go the same way as National's other failed and forgotten 'aspirational' targets like closing the wage gap with Australia or increasing the proportion of exports to 40 percent of GDP.”
Rather than yet another “glossy distraction”, Curran believes the Government needs to front up on the failings of its broadband schemes.
“Also, they need to devise workable and funded plans to deliver 21st Century connectivity to urban and rural New Zealanders this decade not the next,” Curran adds.