[Sitting date: 02 August 2012. Volume:682;Page:4245. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the
Minister for Communications and Information Technology: Has she received any reports on the progress of the Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiatives?
Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister for Communications and Information Technology)
: Yes. Today I am releasing a report on the results of the first year of the build programme for both the Ultra-fast Broadband Initiative and the Rural Broadband Initiative. Under the Ultra-fast Broadband Initiative, the fibre network now reaches over 76,000 premises, exceeding the year 1 target by nearly 10 percent. Under the Rural Broadband Initiative, 69,000 homes and businesses in rural areas now have access to improved broadband, meeting all first-year expectations. The four rural hospitals
scheduled for connection have been connected. A total of 661 schools now have fibre to the gate, representing 85 percent of an ambitious year 1 target, with the remainder to be connected by September. As well as the nearly 500 rural schools, 10 of our most remote schools have also been connected. These initiatives are part of the National-led Government’s commitment to deliver world-class connectivity to drive innovation, create jobs, and grow our economy.
Mark Mitchell: Has the Minister seen any reports on the provision of international bandwidth and its effect on ultra-fast broadband?
Hon AMY ADAMS: Yes, I have. This is an area that we monitor closely. Although our position is that we would welcome and encourage a second cable provider, we are satisfied that the existing capacity is sufficient to meet New Zealand’s needs. The key point is that the case for our ultra-fast broadband and rural broadband projects was never reliant on a second cable. There is ample capacity in the medium term in the Southern Cross cable, with upgrades planned to increase capacity tenfold by 2016, and numerous commentators have now confirmed this position. New Zealand also indirectly benefits from the competitive international market in Australia, as Southern Cross Cables charges New Zealand the same rates as it does in Australia. I am confident that as market dynamics change, there is every likelihood that the investment case for a second cable will improve.
Clare Curran: What is the best estimate she has received, to the nearest $100 million, of the economic loss to the country from the collapse of the Pacific Fibre cable deal?
Hon AMY ADAMS: My interest in this issue is ensuring that the Ultra-fast Broadband Initiative and the Rural Broadband Initiative will not be hampered by the provision of international bandwidth. I am satisfied that they will not, so I have not requested any further analysis in that regard.