Labour calls for select ctte inquiry into Rural Broadband Initiative

Labour is calling for an immediate inquiry into the flailing $300 million rural broadband initiative, before companies and consumers are forced to pick up the tab for the new $150 million broadband tax, says Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran.

“Rural New Zealanders and InternetNZ have expressed strong concerns that the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) isn’t delivering quality internet and has connected very few households.

“MBIE officials have also admitted they have no idea of how successful the scheme has been and have conducted no analysis into it.

“It’s simply reckless for the Government to pump another $150 million into the scheme in the form of a broadband tax imposed on internet providers that will be passed on to consumers without evaluating the success of the initial $400 million scheme.

“Lessons from the first stage of the RBI must be taken into account before more money is spent.

“There is widespread industry concern about the extension of the levy as expressed by the Telecommunications Carriers Forum. One major provider has already announced a price increase citing upward pressure on their future costs and with a decision to pass that cost through to its broadband and on-account mobile customers.

“Rural communities have sent petitions to parliament expressing dissatisfaction with their broadband. It’s time for an inquiry before we throw more good money after bad,” says Clare Curran.