InternetNZ aims for 100Mbit/s broadband

Study of options to be commissioned ahead of the election

InternetNZ is asking for help in clarifying the strengths and weaknesses of strategies for an improved New Zealand broadband infrastructure.

Proposals have been published from the Labour-led government, the National opposition, the New Zealand Institute and others, and all have their gaps as well as their strong points, says spokesman Jordan Carter. There are also overseas models that might contribute usable ideas.

In election year, other political parties may well put forward their own suggestions, which could be added to the mix.

InternetNZ has issued a request for proposal (RFP) for someone “to research and analyse the options available that might form the basis of a strategy for the achievement of widespread broadband penetration in New Zealand.”

The eventual product of the study is described as a “straw man” — a proposal in general terms, to be criticised, refined and modified in its turn.

“InternetNZ, through its public policy committee, has assumed a leadership role to ensure the best outcome for the public and intends to advise the government accordingly through whatever means are available. The first stage in assuming this advisory and lobbying role is to research and analyse current thinking in the area and synthesise the best options and ideas to form a single, coherent strategy,” says the RFP.

Carter, however, says it is not the society’s intention to put forward yet another strategy of its own, but to critique the offerings that are out there already, picking out the strong points of each and putting forward ways of overcoming the weak spots.

Asked to identify where the gaps are in current strategies, Carter demurs, acknowledging that to put forward too definite an analysis himself might risk both prejudging the question and falling into a conflict of interest, since he intends to be a Labour party candidate in this year’s election.

He passed Computerworld to media liaison Richard Wood, but he was also not keen to express an opinion too early.

The target against which the “strawman” will be developed is to have at least 75% of New Zealand individuals and organisations connected to bandwidth that is “unconstrained for the current and foreseeable future. Current thinking is this would mean 100Mbit/s for domestic users and 1Gbit/s for commercial users,” says the RFP.

When it was put to Wood that this seems to rule out copper — and to have more in common with National than Labour proposals — he says the terms of reference for the study are intended to be “technologically neutral”. There are other options such as wireless and perhaps future technologies not yet on the market that could provide such capacity, he says.

Proposals must be in by July 18 and contracts will be signed by August 8. Stage one of the process, involving an interim report to InternetNZ outlining how the successful bidder intends to tackle the job, must be completed by August 29.

InternetNZ reserves the option of not continuing with stage two, the full version of the report, but assuming it does, stage two is scheduled to be complete by October 20.

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