The future of Auckland's regional economic capability may very well rest on broadband, says the chair of Auckland Regional Economic Development Strategy (AREDS) Peter Menzies.
AREDS is a project put together by various regional councils and central government to determine the future direction for Auckland's regional economic development.
"One of the first things to come up is broadband," says Menzies. "There are rural communities in our region and looking at it we realise there is quite a deficiency of broadband within the whole of the Auckland region."
Menzies says AREDS will be working closely with Project PROBE, the government's regional broadband initiative to ensure broadband roll out beyond the CBD.
"Broadband is a critical enabling infrastructure for many of the key industries identified in the AREDS strategy," says Menzies, who says many companies and industry sectors are growing ever more reliant on broadband access for their income.
"We're focussing on business and education and collective community needs rather than individual residential needs."
TelstraClear has applied for resource consent to expand its fibre network in the Auckland region, but has met stern resistence to the idea of stringing fibre cables above ground from some residential groups.
TelstraClear public affairs manager Mathew Bolland says TelstraClear is waiting to hear back from both Auckland and Manukau City Councils about the applications.
"We expected the consent hearings to be in September or October but we're still waiting for council to set a date after several months."
Menzies says the question of rolling out new network is one that must be addressed.
"We've got to get to a position to know what the constraints are and then do something about it. Undoubtedly resource planning consents are going to be quite a significant restraint."
Menzies says identifying where the bottlenecks are for business is the first step, then the network can be expanded.
"When the handicap that is being put in front of business is known clearly, that's when you can articulate an approach to be able to best serve the community."