The first tranche of cash for the government’s $1.5 billion fibre-to-the-home rollout is the key ICT spending feature of this year’s budget, which was delivered by finance minister Bill English today.
English announced that $290 million of the $1.5 billion would be spent in the coming financial year, with $200 million going on capital for broadband infrastructure, $48 million to be spent on investment in rural broadband infrastructure, and $34 million on making schools broadband-ready. An additional $8 million has been granted to fund the operational costs of the broadband initiative.
The $1.5 billion is to be spent over six years, and has the goal of delivering ultra-fast broadband to 75% of the population at the end of that period.
Also in ICT spending in the budget is a $16 million capital injection for KAREN, the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network which connects some crown research institutes, universities and schools at up to 10Gbit/s.
In December, Computerworld reported that according to briefings prepared for incoming ministers the KAREN network faced significant funding problems. The research, science and technology briefing, prepared for incoming minister Wayne Mapp, said Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (REANNZ), which operates KAREN, had failed to meet expectations that it would become self-sustaining and was seeking further funding.
The amount of funding was withheld from the public documents at that time.