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Regional Council plays key role in broadband

Tuesday, 14 June 2011 11:30 a.m.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has played a key role in encouraging investment in broadband for the Bay, this week's Regional Council Strategy, Policy and Planning Committee heard.

Through its research, advocacy and collaboration approach, the Council had helped achieve substantial Government and private investment in Bay of Plenty broadband infrastructure, and Government policy that supported the region's direction, Group Manager Technology and Economic Development Miles McConway said.

The Regional Council's involvement in building a 'state of readiness' for broadband in the region and its support for a collaborative approach to investment had put the Bay at the forefront of broadband investment.

"Significant progress has been made towards the broadband outcomes sought for the Bay of Plenty as a result of Council's role. Council has taken a lead role in facilitating a proactive approach by regional agencies to attracting investment in broadband in the region," he said.

The Council had ensured that the Bay of Plenty developed a state of readiness reputation that had attracted private investment and resulted in the Bay of Plenty being the first region to attract investment from the UFB fund.

Ultra Fast Fibre Ltd is the local fibre company established by WEL Energy and Crown Fibre Holdings to lay fibre in Tauranga, Hamilton and other Waikato and Taranaki towns and cities. It would begin laying fibre in Tauranga in July this year.

The Regional Council had also played a significant role in encouraging private sector investment in Bay of Plenty broadband infrastructure.

"Council's investment over the past four and half years is approximately $400,000. This investment has been recognised and appreciated by industry participants. More particularly it has directly impacted investment decisions of industry papers and has had a direct impact on the capacity, reach and competitiveness of telecommunications in the region," Mr McConway said.

As part of the development of the 2006/2016 Ten Year Plan, submissions from the Information, Communication and Technology sector were for the region's councils to get involved in changing the dynamics of the industry to encourage investment in improved services, capacity, competitiveness and reach.

Within the Bay of Connections economic development strategy, the key areas of focus included a world-class infrastructure and skills to encourage economic development and meet the needs of business, research institutions, education providers and others, and linking businesses throughout the region to maximise collaborative opportunities and stimulate business growth.

"Positive impacts have been achieved in the development of past and present Government policy, particularly relating to open access principles and securing a larger public space in the national radio spectrum used for wireless telecommunication services.

"The recent announcement that Telecom has been chosen to partner with Crown Fibre Holdings to lay fibre in the remaining cities and towns across New Zealand not covered in the first round of negotiations means Rotorua and Whakatāne are now in line to have fibre laid within the next five to seven years," Mr McConway said.

"The future is now very positive for the Bay of Plenty in terms of receiving investment into broadband infrastructure and services. This is critical infrastructure to enable a knowledge economy to emerge - a key sector in improving our productivity and economic performance. There has been a significant level of achievement of the economic development outcomes that relate to Broadband infrastructure."

Work had begun to identify sectors that would most benefit from high-speed broadband and a programme was being developed to inform those sectors of the opportunities.

"The Regional Council will also have a role through Bay of Connections in contributing to the development of a regional information and communication technology strategy. Part of this Strategy will focus on how to improve uptake and utilisation of the government's investment in fibre in the region," he said.