I've long argued that we need to fix International to make the boat go faster. Faster and cheaper international broadband would mean our kids have the same learning opportunities as children in the USA, any business could build deeper relationships with overseas customers by being able to do multi-party video calls, we could attract talented people her to live local and earn global - to name just a few benefits.
I've never believe that just fixing Fibre to the Home (FTTH) would work. In fact without fixing International FTTH is probably a waste of time.
Tonight I ran some speed tests to see how fast my FTTH connection was locally, compared to connecting to Auckland and connecting to Silicon Valley. Here's what I found ...
I think explains why, while things are no doubt a bit better and more reliable with fibre, it doesn't really change the experience when communicating to where 95% of our Internet content comes from and where business is. Skype still sucks often, GotoMeeting is patchy and slow and forget Google Hangouts.
If FTTH is no better than DSL (copper) and we haven't introduced new content like TV and movies for people to substitute their satellite TV spend I fear that the UFB initiate is poised to flop. Simply there is no reason to pay for it.
Sadly the generous 1.5B spend on FTTH while well intentioned is misplaced. Fixing international (which we are trying to do with Pacific Fibre) is what we as an island nation should be really focussed on.
41. As discussed in Issues Paper 1, the price of international connectivity has fallen significantly since 2008 as the wholesale market has become more competitive. The price of international connectivity may continue to fall further with continued upgrading of capacity, competitive pressure on the wholesale market, and two possible infrastructure new entrants (Pacific Fibre and the joint venture between Axin and Huawei Marine).
42. While the high price of linkages has historically led to restrictive data allowances, this situation is rapidly changing (see discussion of data caps below). The Commission does not anticipate that international transit will be a major issue restricting the uptake of high speed broadband services.
At dinner with ICT Minister Amy Adams a week ago she said that 'My officials tell me we don't have an international broadband issue'. I have to ask if Ministers actually understand how we are using the Internet and how business works these days.
So what am I doing?
- We are trying to get Pacific Fibre done. We're making good progress
- I've had a number of Ministers in to explain what we're doing at Xero as an example. We're at 200 people now and hope to add another 100+ in the next year. We're proving what you can do with the Internet. Ross Patterson (The Commissioner) is in next week and we should have Amy in over the next few weeks.
- Pushing for things we can do under the current model. For example Crown Fibre Holdings could complete their wholesale rate card and put out a tender for International bandwidth so that all New Zealanders could get blazing fast international when they connect to Fibre. Southern Cross would win some, we'd win some and we'd be off to the races. That would be great for Chorus and Telecom as well. (Isn't it nuts that Southern Cross is held under Telecom so that if a new retail telco wants to connect to customers over UFB they have to buy International off their competitor?)
It would help if others can make some noise as well. International fibre for me is the biggest game changer we could do as a country. It benefits all.
We need it.