Brian Fallow at the Herald asks if we need a 1.5 billion dollar taxpayer funded ultra-fast broadband roll-out:
It cries out, in short, for rigorous cost/benefit analysis, but that is nowhere to be found.
All we get are lofty assertions about how vital broadband is to economic growth, productivity and international competitiveness.
But when economists led by Arthur Grimes at the think tank Motu went looking systematically for empirical evidence of productivity gains from the adoption of fast broadband by firms they found a productivity effect of around 10 per cent from having broadband as opposed to no broadband,”with no discernible additional effect arising from the shift from slow to fast broadband”.
That does not augur well for big or fast economic gains from fibre to the home.
I’m even less qualified to comment on this than most subjects I prattle on about – but I will note that people who work in communications technology often get weirdly cultish and fanatical about the subject. So a policy advisor recommending new transport infrastructure might do so because they’ve done a cost/benefit analysis, while a policy advisor recommending new fibre cables might do so because they think high speed internet is ‘a basic human right’, or that it will speed up the coming of the singularity and the dawn of the trans-human.