CommsDay reports on comments by former telecommunications commissioner Ross Patterson:
New Zealand’s private sector-led approach to its fast broadband deployment is far more likely to achieve a successful outcome than Australia’s publicly funded NBN model.
Patterson is now a partner at legal firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. At the Sydney CommsDay Summit he said there are reasons a private sector fibre build is more likely to succeed.
He says; “Under public ownership, the cost and the risks of the rollout are borne by the tax payer. Thus it becomes a political issue [and] political responses typically involve time-consuming proposals, reports, policy changes and delays.
Under private ownership, these risks are borne by the private sector participants [which makes it] a commercial issue, not a political one… once a private sector party is contractually committed to the rollout and targets at an agreed price, then short of bankruptcy there’s no going back.”
That last point is probably the most significant. You might expect a public ownership build would be more certain than contracting private companies. Yet, so far, the New Zealand ultra-fast broadband project has proved to be almost bulletproof.
There’s never been much doubt about the UFB project, while the NBN has never looked like a certainty.