by Gareth Hughes
Better broadband is essential for New Zealand’s future. Everyone agrees with that, but no one, it seems, is happy with the direction the Government is taking to achieve it.
An impressive number of telcos and industry watchdogs have joined together today to oppose the Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) plan because of its negative impacts on competition and investment. This is an unprecedented step and shows how huge the concern is.
I want to propose a truce.
The whole unpopular UFB process seems to have been botched in the haste to get ‘something,’ ‘anything’ out the door before the Election by Communications Minister Steven Joyce.
I’d like to propose a UFB truce – opposition parties won’t attack the Government for not rushing to deliver on their broadband plan if the Government takes a pause and works constructively with other parties to develop durable and broadly-supported legislation.
I’m sure most people would agree good, well developed, and broadly-supported policy was preferable to a rushed and unpopular Bill that may be seriously modified by a future Government, providing further investor uncertainty.
A cross-party consensus is the best way forward for the nation and also for investor certainty in the market.
If nothing changes, the Government’s desire for better broadband for New Zealand will be significantly compromised by creating an unregulated monopoly in the industry. Monopolies would mean higher prices for consumers and poorer service outcomes.
We can’t leave critical industry unregulated. Unregulated monopolies undermine the competitiveness of New Zealand Inc. and leave us all poorer. So, Mr Joyce, will you work with us to ensure we avoid this outcome?