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Questions Raised Over Cost To Households Of Fast Broadband

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Clare Curran
Clare Curran

Wellington, May 6 NZPA - The potential cost to households of connecting to the Government's ultra-fast broadband came under scrutiny in Parliament today.

The Government has committed to putting $1.5 billion towards making fast broadband available to 75 percent of New Zealand homes within six years, and is aiming to get the private sector to match it.

Labour's communications spokeswoman Clare Curran raised questions about whether New Zealanders would find themselves facing significant costs if they wanted to connect to the fibre-optic cable on their streets.

Communications and Information Technology Minister Steven Joyce said finer details of the scheme, including the "level of consumer contribution", would be resolved as the process was completed.

Ms Curran referred to Mr Joyce's comment last week about the Government's goal to provide "availability" of ultra-fast broadband to homes.

"Does his definition of availability mean families have to bear thousands of dollars in costs to connect ultra-fast broadband to their homes."

Mr Joyce said there would be "an element" of cost, service rental and installation cost.

"The amounts will be commercial decisions, but the LFCs (local fibre companies) and retailers will be acutely aware that the level of installation cost will greatly impact take-up."

No one had ever said the technology would be provided completely free of charge, he said.

Last week, Ms Curran cited a report written for the Treasury which said the cost of the ultra-fast broadband initiative would be between $5.3b and $10.4b, meaning the Government would struggle to honour its commitment.

Mr Joyce said the report signalled a range of costs which varied depending widely on the technology used and the level of take-up.

The figures quoted by Ms Curran were at the extreme end of the range, he said.

The Government was confident of getting "most, if not all of the way to our goal".

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