Wellington big broadband ‘vision’ gets full support

The council plans an ambitious broadband network stretching to the outskirts of the city by 2012

Wellington City councillors have unanimously agreed to adopt a broadband vision document presented to the council’s strategy and policy committee last week.

Now, the detailed negotiations and planning involved in realising the “vision” will begin. The council plans an ambitious broadband network stretching to the outskirts of the city by 2012, and seeks industry partners to help it realise this vision of a connected city.

Mayor Kerry Prendergast says the council will be asking potential industry partners to help develop ideas for implementing the vision.

“This will determine the most appropriate business model, mix of technologies, technical details and financial options needed to achieve the vision,” she says.

Wellington is “already highly connected”, says Prendergast, with 51% of the population having a broadband connection, and another 37% having dial-up access.

However, a good deal of this access is through specific network providers and ISPs. The vision is of an open-access network — sometimes known as a “mush” (municipal, university, schools and hospitals) network — where a variety of providers can mount services on the same infrastructure. However, high-capacity infrastructure suitable for such purposes is rare outside central business districts.

However, the degree of interest expressed “provides confidence that the demand for broadband exists on a sufficient scale that the private sector will view broadband in Wellington as a viable and attractive investment,” says Prendergast.

Once the council has talked with potential industry partners it “will be in a position to decide what degree of involvement and investment council needs to take”, says the mayor.

A further report, on the options available for implementing the vision, will be presented to the strategy and policy committee sometime before June.

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