Profit vs public accountability

I've spent a while mulling over Rod Drury's post about securing New Zealands digital trade routes. I find myself conflicted about it to be honest as i can see both sides of the argument.

Telecom was sold by the government of New Zealand in 1987.  As such its a public company, with a great many shareholders in NZ.  This public company is accountable for turning in a profit and investing the companies capital to get the best return.  Good all makes sense…

 The problem though is that Telecom inheritted the total Telecommunications infrastructure of NZ. It also inherited a burden of responsibility (though i cannot feed it documented in anywhere except for the Kiwishare agreement) to provide and continue to provide the nation with world class communications technology.

Unfortunately those two things are at odds, especially when it comes to Fibre.  NZ's populate density just doesn't justify that kind of spending (from a publically listed company point of view).

What then? Municiple mush networks?  Sure a good option and possible, except really all thats happened is that central government has abdicated their  responsibility to the local government.  Why after they recieved billions for Telecom would they want to invest back into communications technology? No way, but the local government can with their insiduous form of tax (rates). That way the government sides steps the issues and at the same time gains political brownie points by taking the stick to Telecom (which only really damaged the ma and pa investors who voted for them).

Other ways of achieving this could be the user pays models prevalent in the scandinavian countries. That being user pays, self organised user pays actually. Very web 2.0 isn't it.  Imagine being a pro-consumer of fibre networks, very un NZ like really….I think its the way to go personally.

I know this is only a small component of what Rod is saying, but i think relying on a public company to take one for the team and do whats best for the nation isn't going to work. Neither is mandating them to do it…too slow. Neither is hoping that other competitive networks will arrive (anyone remember the $200million Callplus said they'd spend when LLU was announced??? – yeah right)



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