ICT Minister Steven Joyce, questioned today at the InternetNZ-organised NetHui in Auckland, would not be drawn on the question of where Southern Cross will sit in the Telecom split.
The ball is currently in Telecom’s court, he said, and it would be improper to speculate on the future structure of a major company before its shareholders had been briefed. However, Joyce held out little hope of the industry at large being consulted on the decision. (Telecom confirmed to Computerworld earlier this month that its shareholding in the international cable is likely to become an asset of Telecom Retail, not Chorus2, post structural separation.)
The mood of the gathering was clearly against the international link being put on the retail side of Telecom rather than Chorus 2 as this would choke off open-access to international bandwidth, with Pacific Fibre unlikely to arrive for another few years.
Xero CEO Rod Drury asked whether there would be any focal point on the government and broadband supplier side for industry to engage about demand stimulation. He repeated his argument (mentioned in the recent Q&A with Computerworld) that SkyTV should be encouraged to put content through fibre as a means of encouragement for the ordinary Kiwi to hook into the broadband going past their house.
Joyce was non-committal, referring to the availability of existing industry forums such as the Telecommunications Carriers Forum, InternetNZ, TUANZ and ICTNZ. “I hope you’re not saying we should provide funding,” he told Drury.
Questioned on filling in the “last mile” to link broadband with customers, Joyce expressed continued hope that “as demand develops” the private sector would provide. He wants to avoid the situation of “big clodhopper government” intruding on the market for such local networking just when private entrepreneurial efforts were beginning to ramp up, he said.