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Out With The Old, In With The New - Changes To Broadband Plan

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Feb 5 NZPA - A $340 million Broadband Investment Fund (BIF) established by the Labour government has been axed, the government announced today.

The fund was to use taxpayer's money to build the country's broadband infrastructure.

It allocated the $340m over a maximum of five years with industry players asked to apply by September 30 last year.

The fund was suspended before the election and Communications and Technology Minister Steven Joyce announced today it would not resume.

No money was given out before the suspension.

Funding for the Digital Development Council (DDC) would also be withdrawn immediately, Mr Joyce said today.

The DDC was established to advise government and work to make New Zealand a leader in information and communications technology.

The BIF was not compatible with the new Government's broadband plans.

The Government will work directly with industry groups rather than using the DDC, Mr Joyce said.

"We remain committed to engaging with the groups represented by the DDC but believe that direct interface is a much more effective means of receiving input and advice from these organisations."

New initiatives aimed at the roll out of ultra fast broadband will be announced soon, he said.

"This is a $1.5 billion investment and, to get this right the first time, we will work carefully through the detail and ensure we have the right structure in place to secure the digital infrastructure which is so important to New Zealand's future prosperity."

DDC chairwoman Fran Wilde said members were disappointed but "keen not to lose momentum".

"Our members have signalled commitment to continue the work programme in key areas including digital inclusion, digital literacy and digital uptake in regions and amongst small and medium enterprises."

Members would discuss the future at a meeting scheduled for later in the month, she said.

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