The government has abandoned the idea of using a public private partnership (PPP) to fund a "whole of government" radio network that would allow police communications to be secured from eavesdroppers nationwide.
However, it is not clear whether it has killed off the project itself - estimated to be likely to cost at least $150 million - or intends to finance it in some other way.
An email sent by Treasury senior analyst Maureena Van Der Lem has been leaked to Fairfax Media, publisher of Computerworld. The email was addressed to companies that expressed interest in participating in the PPP and said it was no longer under consideration.
"There have been several key decisions and approvals in recent weeks relating to the whole-of-government radio network project. Police will release further information in the new year in relation to the future path of the project," it said. Van Der Lem confirmed the email was authentic but would not comment further.
TeamTalk, which provides competing commercial services to companies and government agencies, has issued an NZX statement welcoming the decision to abandon the PPP. Chief executive David Ware congratulated Telecommunications Minister Amy Adams - his sister-in-law - on what he described as a "u-turn".
"TeamTalk endorses the decision to drop the concept of a Public Private Partnership for the whole-of-government radio network.
"We consider that the needs of government radio users are so diverse that they are best served by a combination of specialised dedicated networks and commercial services", he said.
“It's great to see the government through the Minister of Telecommunications showing leadership in this vital area.”
Police already have an encrypted digital radio network in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, operated by Christchurch's Tait Communications. The idea behind a PPP-funded whole-of-government network was to extend that nationwide and open it up other agencies.