Fry Up: A Golden opportunity

Who's afraid of the big bad sheep?

Gold plated

All the glitters isn't gold, as Shakespeare so wisely wrote, and certainly the $1.35 billion fibre broadband network that has just been given the green light is unlikely to be gold-plated, despite what the Labour opposition might say in Parliament.

"Are we going to see a bigger monopoly in the broadcasting sector be given a gold-plated distribution channeling into people's homes?" asked Labour spokesperson Clare Curran during the third reading of the Telecommunications (TSO, Broadband and Other Matters) Bill.

The Labour party fought hard in the dying days of the Bill's debate to land some hits on the government, but ICT Minister Steven Joyce managed to bat them away. The only killer blow was the scrapping of the 10-year regulatory holiday, which was a long fight and involved the entire industry and while Labour can take some credit for its demise, so too can the industry, the consumer groups, Act, the Greens, the Maori Party and Neil Waka.

Fry Up was rather taken with Curran's term 'gold-plated' because the new network won't be, in the sense that it isn't the best network that we could have possibly built as a nation. Some of us were hoping for a point-to-point solution (GPON architecture is more cost effective, but it will be harder to unbundle when the time comes and it will) but that requirement got scrapped in the second draft of the plan issued back in September 2009.

The assertion by ICT Minister Steven Joyce that "UFB will deliver fibre connectivity to ... three-quarters of all New Zealanders by 2020" is suitably non-specific. While it may reach suburban streets in that time, there is a massive amount of work to do to ensure it gets from the curb and into people's homes.

It surely is a pragmatic solution, where the government's negotiators Crown Fibre appeared hell-bent on getting the best price. And you always get what you pay for.

But it is a fibre to the home network of sorts and one that the telco industry would not have delivered without government intervention, and that is something to celebrate.

Also Telecom is to be split in two, which sends a staunch message to every monopoly provider who sweats a public asset.

Third and final reading for UFB and RBI bill

Focus on the upload

Will Telecom and Sky cosy up to deliver high-priced Star Trek movie sequels and reality television shows about dysfunctional British families that can be downloaded in minutes?

The next battle is content. Though rather than think about what is coming down the pipe, it is what's going the other way that is the real challenge.

It is time to focus on the upload - delivering the best solutions to the world via fast fibre networks (go Pacific Fibre, Optikor, SPIN and anyone else who wants to build another international pipe, the more the better).

If we want to avoid becoming a nation of waiters, slaves to the tourism dollar, here is as good an opportunity as any to create a hi-tech industry. According to the TIN 100, the technology sector made $4.9 billion in exports last year, which is probably the equivalent in the hospitality industry of selling a trillion flat whites.

This week Revenue Minister Peter Dunne announced an amendment is to be made to the tax law, so that businesses will be able to claim tax deductions on failed software developments.

According to New Zealand Computer Society CEO Paul Matthews, this is very good news. Matthews says it will "safeguard the investment in software, which is necessary to see our economy growth through increased innovation, efficiency and productivity".

So whaddaya waiting for? Start working on those SaaS applications today. Fry Up has an idea about launching one in the accounting area, we don't think that has been tried before...

Tech sector achievements under-recognised

IRD reverses stance on tax deductions for failed software projects

Nice phones, shame about the press release

As part of Fry Up' s occasional series (which may or may not have begun today) on the strange, weird and desperate press releases that pass through our email inbox, we bring you this from the folks at HTC and Telecom.

The quite ordinary content (quotes from exciting company reps, list of device specs) was transformed by the hyperbolic title - in capitals.

HTC AND TELECOM NEW ZEALAND RE-DEFINE ENVY WITH THE HTC SENSATION AND HTC WILDFIRE S

Rilly? These smart phones are going to give new meaning to one of the seven deadly sins? What a shame we missed the launch.

World's worst sheepdog is afraid of sheep

Gotta feel sorry for this four year old Border Collie, named Ci. Scared of sheep ever since he was a puppy. Hard knock life. Read more: The Daily Telegraph.

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