A national infrastructure plan

The government has just released the second edition of it's national infrastructure plan which sets out a vision that, by 2030, New Zealand's infrastructure is resilient, coordinated and contributes to economic growth and increased quality of life.

This is the second National Infrastructure Plan to be released by the Government. The first Plan was released in April 2010. Publication of the 2011 Plan follows consultation with the National Infrastructure Advisory Board and a series of regional infrastructure workshops facilitated by the National Infrastructure Unit.

The document is interesting to me for two reasons;

  1. I'd regard it is a very useful resource for those in secondary schools teaching geography, with a very comprehensive approach used to analyse the needs and the responses recommended, and
  2. The section on telecommunications has some key messages for those of us involved in supporting the connection of schools to UFB.

In relation to the second point, the following section from the report is worth noting:

While there has been some investment in fibre networks in major urban centres in New Zealand, it is clear that the market has not been ready, or may not have adequate incentives, to build the infrastructure required to deliver fibre on scale quickly. Furthermore, fibre may have not been initially deployed to those users that will provide productivity gains (e.g. schools, hospitals) as they may not always be the most commercially attractive targets for private investment. Finally, there is a significant gap between broadband availability, services, speed and quality in urban and rural areas.

This highlights the conundrum faced by commercial providers of the UFB roll-out – the fact that schools (and hospitals) may not be commercially attractive targets for private investment. It's pleasing to see that the authors of this report appear to regard them as agencies providing 'productivity gains', and thus important to be connected.

The challenge for schools now will be to step up as the opportunity to connect becomes real and demonstrate just what those 'productivity gains' in education might be.

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