National's plan to boost broadband demand would be run by MED

Steven Joyce stands firm on keeping telco and broadcasting separate

The National party would put in place a five-point action plan coordinated by the Ministry of Economic Development to promote the benefits of faster broadband, if elected for a second term.

In its broadband and communications policy National announced a plan that will “realise the economic, social, and productivity benefits of much faster broadband”. This would take the form of E-education, E-health, E-government, E-business, and E-development initiatives.

“MED has a coordinating role in work on the five-point plan however specific agencies have responsibility for specific projects,” Steven Joyce, the current ICT Minister, told Computerworld by email.

“For example the Ministry of Education is responsible for the Network for Learning initiative [which has a budget of $300 to $400 million over the next ten years] and the National Health IT Board is responsible for initiatives in the health sector.”

Joyce rejects the idea of setting up a separate ICT Ministry, or department inside the Prime Minister’s office – a suggestion put forward by the Labour party in its policy on ICT.

“ICT policy is dealt with by the MED Energy and Communciations branch. There is no plan to change that,” says Joyce in the email.

Computerworld asked if there are any plans by National to combine the ICT and broadcasting portfolios. Joyce replied “No”.

He also reiterated National’s promise to release the “4G spectrum” (that is, the 700MHz spectrum that becomes available following the digital switchover) straight away, despite concerns by InternetNZ that the government could be acting too soon and creating a plan that is incompatible with other countries in the Asia Pacific region.

“National is working to make 4G spectrum available to the market as soon as possible and will address InternetNZ’s concerns as we go,” Joyce says.

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