IT and Communications Minister Amy Adams must guarantee that the new fund announced this week will be truly contestable and not just a slush fund for large telcos or a continuation of the existing failed Rural Broadband Initiative.
Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran believes the new fund is an admission that the "RBI has failed and under-shot the ambitions of New Zealanders."
“Broadband connections in rural New Zealand are poor by world standards," she says. "New Zealand needs the best rural broadband possible because of the importance of primary production."
Curran claims that the National may have woken up to the importance of community solutions – a solution that Labour has already embraced.
“This fund must be genuinely contestable and not a repeat of previous mistakes such as ultra-fast broadband where their conventional thinking resulted in relying on a big incumbent to deliver the best solutions for its bottom lines rather than for communities," she adds.
“That’s why John Key has attempted to paper over the cracks with today’s extra $150 million being thrown at the project.
“If this turns out anything like the ultra-fast broadband project, it will simply result in more money for telecommunications companies with no real difference to rural communities for years to come."