Telco politics at core of NGI

The man with the job of turbocharging the internet in New Zealand, Tone Borren, says it's a political rather than technological challenge.

The man with the job of turbocharging the internet in New Zealand, Tone Borren (pictured), says it's a political rather than technological challenge.

Borren, who is in his second week as head of the Next Generation Internet (NGI) consortium, believes the network of the future is already in place. The former boss of Alcatel New Zealand says the missing link is how users will pay for use of the network, which will take a change in mindset by telcos.

"We have to create a national network that connects universities and research institutes in a manner similar to a local area network [LAN] rather than the point-to-point set-up we see the telcos offering today."

NGI's plan is to work with tertiary and research institutes to connect their existing networks on a national scale. From there, the network would be expanded to include commercial users and extended off shore to international NGI projects in the US and Australia, for example.

"Stage two would be to look at the applications; the first step is to build the infrastructure.

"If you look at a LAN you would see there is no traffic engineering; they simply get a bigger pipe when traffic demands it. Sure, you might get a slow down if traffic is heavy but it's not usually a problem. If the slow down goes on too long then you have to simply light another fibre."

Borren says the existing national infrastructure is already capable of being run like a giant LAN.

"It's about how you use the network, how you work the tariff charges."

Borren says telcos are hung up on what he calls the "traditional point to point approach" to networks, which doesn't fit with the LAN model. He would like to see them return to the approach of the early days of telephony -- in the 1920s and 1930s -- when phone services were viewed as a true network.

"That model worked for voice for many years. Why shouldn't data be run that way as well?

"CityLink in Wellington does this very well. It builds a network connecting LANs together and lets [users] do what they like over that network. Sure if you want to connect to anyone beyond the network, that costs money and users are expected to pay for that. But they're happy to do so."

The NGI consortium will hold its first board meeting in the next week to work out the structure of the organisation and how it will go about getting the tariffing message across to telcos.

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