Govt kills Broadband Investment Fund and Digital Development Council

It’s official: National will cancel Labour’s Broadband Investment Fund (BIF), according to Minister of Communications Steven Joyce. Joyce told Computerworld that the BIF doesn’t match the government’s broadband investment plans that include rolling out a $1.5 billion fibre broadband network covering 75% of New Zealanders within six years, and therefore it will be cancelled. BIF was set up by the former Labour administration, to provide $340 million over five years, to assist rural and urban broadband projects. Shortly after winning the election in November, National announced that it had put the BIF on hold, while it was deciding on the future of the funding programme. By that time, the Ministry of Economic Development had received 19 full applications for funding, and 56 expressions of interest from organisations around the country. In “clearing the decks” from the previous administration, Joyce also says the Digital Development Council or DDC will go. The DDC was set up in 2007 with $825,000 in funding until 2010. Its board comprised members from Business New Zealand, InternetNZ, Local Government NZ, the New Zealand Computer Society, Te Huarahi Tika or Maori Spectrum Trust, TUANZ, WIT, and the 2020 National Communications Trust. The aim of the DDC was to help New Zealand to become a world leader in ICT use. However, Joyce says that he prefers to speak to the various parties directly, and points to ICT-NZ as an existing industry body for the sector that government can work with. Yesterday, State Services Minister Tony Ryall canned another Labour-era project, the Government Shared Network (GSN), a move Labour's new ICT spokeswoman, Clare Curran, labelled "backwards".

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