A small Budget surprise

Tucked away in the Budget speech of last week was a line item I must confess I completely missed.

The government, and the crown Research Network REANNZ, has put aside $15m for “a new undersea cable to the US and Australia” according to a tweet from the REANNZ Twitter account.

It’s only a drop in the bucket, but it continues to show support at some level for a new trans-Pacific cable.

Telecom, Vodafone and Telstra are, apparently, still working on their trans-Tasman fibre link – but that’s really only going to get us so far in terms of capacity and competition. Capacity wise, it replaces the Tasman2 cable which is about to die completely. Competition wise, well Telecom owns a large share in both this new proposed cable but also in the Southern Cross Network, so you could argue that competition is not well served in such an instance.

What is still vitally important is another cable from New Zealand to the US, as well as one to Australia. I’d add in one north to Japan and look further afield – South Africa, Central or South America as well in the future.

Price wise we’re looking at $400m for a single connection to the US. I may have mentioned before just how many submarine cables we could have for the cost of the Waterview motorway extension in Auckland but I’m starting to sound like a stuck record.

Fifteen million is just a start, a very good one but still just the beginning. We need to get on and build our capacity if we’re to take advantage of the opportunity that lies before us. We’re seeing more digital businesses flourishing in New Zealand and the number of high-profile names is but the tip of the digital iceberg. It’s high time we got in and supported their ability to operate from New Zealand and high time New Zealand took on the world.