Budget increases funding for telco policy, cybersecurity

Government invests further in MBIE and CERT

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has received additional funding to focus on “telecommunications policy, infrastructure and digital economy priorities”, it was announced in the Government’s Budget last week.

“Budget 2018 provides $6.2 million of new operating funding over the next four years so the Ministry can continue to provide policy advice on communications issues, such as 5G mobile networks and ultra-fast broadband,” Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran says.

There are a couple of key policy initiatives underway are expected to fundamentally change the provision of fixed and mobile services. The Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill that is currently before Parliament, is likely to result in a new regulatory regime for the fibre networks that were built as part of the Ultra Fast Broadband programme. In addition, the deployment of 5G in New Zealand will require a new spectrum plan. A recent Government paper discussing spectrum for 5G, suggests the process to parcel out the rights could begin in the next 12-18 months. 

Curran recently established a Digital Economy and Digital Advisory Group to advise the Government on building a digital economy and reducing the digital divide. In addition, the search for a Chief Technology Officer, who will work with the Government on finding ways to respond to emerging and disruptive technologies, has resumed.  

In addition to extra funding for telecommunications policy development, the Budget also delivered an additional $3.9 million for the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).  

Curran says the new funding will means CERT “can continue to respond to major cyber events and provide advice to businesses, organisations and individuals who may be affected by cyber security incidents.”  

She says CERT deals with threats such as disruptive malware, denial-of-service attacks and theft of data perpetrated by a range of actors, including organised criminal groups and vigilante hackers.

“Reported financial losses in the year to the end of April show that New Zealanders lost more than $5.3 million from known cyber incursions. We need to improve our capabilities now to get ahead of these threats. There are a range of victims – the corporate sector, government agencies, small businesses and individuals – so it is crucial CERT is funded to enhance its trusted and authoritative services,” Curran says.  

Curran has previously announced a comprehensive refresh of New Zealand’s approach to cyber security, releasing two cabinet papers detailing her proposed approach. The review will involve close collaboration with the private sector and citizens.

Read more: US Senate approves net neutrality bill

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