Never afraid to be critical where he sees fit, Budde also brought with him an idea which could help the spread of broadband services. This week in Sydney he is staging a summit of “last-mile” service providers with a view to creating a strategy for an Australian broadband rollout. Budde doesn’t rule out a similar event here.
“I have a passion that telecommunications not just be profit-making; that it also give society what it wants,” Budde says.
New Zealand has the dubious distinction, along with Australia and the UK, of being one of the slowest rich countries to latch on to broadband internet, Budde says. Figures his 45 analysts around the world collect are largely in agreement with those of the OECD, he says, whose latest report shows New Zealand’s broadband ranking has slipped in the past year from 17th to 19th.
“While initiatives like the Otago community broadband effort [Rural Otago towns to get JetStream] are promising, what’s lacking is a national plan,” Budde says. That means considering what services it’s desirable to be offering — educational, health, for example — and building an appropriate network to deliver them.
“Typically 30% of these are government services, so governments can act as anchor tenants to enable them to get off the ground.”
Australia’s even worse off than New Zealand, he says, since it hasn’t even got as far as staging an event like the Knowledge Wave conference, held in Auckland in August.
Bringing off the Sydney summit has been a case of building trust with many of the same organisations that are the targets of his criticism. Despite his uncompromising “honesty”, all but one of the last-mile operators — a television channel — is participating, he says.
“I would consider doing a similar thing here,” Budde says, although he would just as happily hand the idea over to someone else, saying there’s no money it.
“I want to help people understand the impediments to rolling out broadband services because they are a good thing. Profits are the reward for those who provide them.”