Govt acknowledges room to help rural telecomms networks

Commerce and IT Minister Paul Swain has confirmed there is potential for government participation in, and funding for, community broadband networking initiatives such as one seeking to network the Wairarapa.

Commerce and IT Minister Paul Swain has confirmed there is potential for government participation in, and funding for, community broadband networking initiatives such as one seeking to network the Wairarapa (see Government could piggyback on rural fast net plan).

“We are looking at working through with [communities] what the role of government might be,” Swain told Computerworld.

Development agency Industry New Zealand is already putting some funding into the project, Swain says. As for further assistance, “we might put people on the ground to help communities with the rollout [of their networks]”.

The aid of TUANZ and Industry New Zealand will probably be sought in this process, he says, indicating that an official announcement of government participation may emerge next month.

Government officials are also talking to a team in Southland with a similar idea.

Asked whether government might subsidise a company such as TVNZ-owned BCL to provide cable for such ventures, Swain was circumspect. “We use the ‘s’ word rarely in Parliament these days.” Under the more acceptable “i word” — incentives — such a contribution to a networker’s costs may be possible. BCL, he adds, sees its market in commercial operations.

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