The Ministry of Economic Development is reporting a strong response to the government's Broadband Investment Fund (BIF) proposal.
BIF programme manager Tim Watton says 19 full applications and 56 expressions of interest were received by the end of September, when applications closed.
“Our initial assessment shows a good geographical spread covering cities, provincial and rural areas – including a number of remote islands,” Watton says.
MED says many community groups worked with suppliers and local government to signal their interest in BIF.
Applicants had the choice of filing full applications or expressions of interest (EOIs) by the end of September. Decisions on full applications are due in early December.
Those submitting EOIs will hear at the end of October whether they will be invited to submit a full application. They need to file their full applications by late February 2009.
The government announced the $340 million, five-year BIF in August as part of its Digital Strategy 2.0 rewrite.
“Our long term vision for rolling out fast broadband to all New Zealanders will see us spend more than $500 million in the next five years. This includes targeting high speed open access urban fibre networks, improved rural connectivity and improved international links,” communications minister David Cunliffe said at the time.
BIF targets three areas: facilitating high-speed broadband to businesses and entities such as municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals in urban centres; extending the reach of broadband into underserved regions, particularly in the rural sector; and; improving the resilience of New Zealand’s international connections.
Last week, REANNZ, which operates the KAREN research network, went to tender for the supply of a new 1Tbit/s trans-Tasman connection.
BIF came in response to National's $1.5 billion fibre network plan, announced in April. National Party leader John Key announced the investment to drive the roll-out of a “fibre to the home” fast broadband network in New Zealand.
“This investment will help deliver the economic step change that New Zealand needs to significantly lift average incomes over time," Key said.
Local Government New Zealand-sponsored a series of workshops about the BIF around New Zealand in September.