I'm not sure what Telecom thinks of Dr Murray Milner's submission to the finance and expenditure select committee, as the former CTO of the telco says unbundling is way overdue and increased investment in FTTH is necessary.
Milner submitted to the select committee on behalf of the Institute of Professional Engineers, saying that New Zealand needs to spend $1.5 billion on shortening the copper lengths for the local loop in order to reach the government's very modest 5Mbps target. This means replacing much of the copper network with fibre-optic cabling.
This is the way we'll have infrastructure similar to what other countries already enjoy, and no, wireless isn't going to cut the mustard here. Apart from anything, Milner says wireless will cost about eight times more to deploy, to reach the 5Mbps target.
Although Milner says that the only player capable of entering into such a massive replacment is Telecom, at the same time his submission vindicates the government turning up the regulatory heat on the incumbent. Some anti-unbundling zealots point to Telecom's offers of investing more in the network in lieu of regulation, but these blinkered people conveniently forget that the telco's been playing the same game for a decade now. It should by now be abundantly clear to anyone that Telecom will only invest as little as it can get away with. Furthermore, the investment is used as a weapon to stave off regulation as well - Telecom has no qualms about pulling money out of the provinces and rural areas if a regulatory decision doesn't go its way. This is what Telecom did in December last year, when the Commerce Commission awarded TelstraClear DSL that is unconstrained in one direction.
If there were guarantees that Milner would remain independent from Telecom, he would be an ideal "Broadband Czar" to drive the operational separation of Telecom as well as the copper network replacement. New Zealand needs a techie like him to kick things off, not more lawyers and accountants interested mainly in earning more fees through increasingly convoluted and drawn out processes.