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Broadband strategy doc by Labour's Clare Curran accidentally sent to Amy Adams

This morning, a strategy document written by Labour associate information and communications technology (ICT) spokesperson Clare Curran was accidentally sent to ICT Minister Amy Adams' Office, Ms Curran says (though not by her specifically*).

Although it can only be seen as a footnote compared to his woes in other areas, the gaffe is more trouble for Labour leader David Cunliffe, whom among other roles is the party's main ICT spokesperson. Speech notes for Mr Cunliffe were also mistakenly sent to Ms Adams.

"It is a set of ideas. It has no status as Labour policy," Ms Curran emailed media early this afternoon, also forwarding a copy of the document, which is titled "ICT Policy Framework 2014".

NBR speculates the blunder was a "Freudian email" - or the scenario when you send an email to a person you're criticising, rather than the intended recipient.

The document, formatted as a table, contains no detail on how Labour would approach the thorny issue of Chorus' role in the multi-billion Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) rollout (some analysts and investors are nervous about what direction a Labour-Greens government could push the project, or its main contractor). But it does offer sweeping proposals and commentary in other areas.

In very broad terms, the document hints at more regulation, stating: Platform infrastructure competition is wasteful and anti-competitive. It needs to be open access, regulated for maximum competition and run as a single platform monopoly." 2degrees has frequently noted that in many countries, celltowers and other infrastructure are shared between telcos.

Despite the lack of detail on Chorus and the fibre rollout out, the document does chirrup the "Chorus crisis could bring down [the] Govt!" (perhaps a tad ambitious a statement given public apathy and confusion over the "copper tax" issue).

And there could be awkward moments the next time Ms Curran meets 2degrees brass given her statement in the document that "The result [of the 4G auction] is looking like a big long term win for Vodafone and might mark [the] decline and demise of 2Degrees."

The document does include a couple of interesting ideas, including a "Digital Content Levy", which would be levied on "ICT carriers" (presumably phone companies and ISPs). The revenue-based levy is compared to NZ on Air and the Film Commission, and would be used to "for creation and ‘accessible’ distribution of NZ digital content. It looks like it could see the likes of Telecom (soon to launch ShowmeTV) and Vodafone hit by a levy that could be used to fund online local content (Telecom has said it does not plan any local production content on ShowmeTV, which it bills as a "Netflix for New Zealand").

Telecom was not big on the content levy concept when NBR asked the company for comment.  "Thee telco/ISP industry already pays $50 million annually as an industry levy [The Telecommunications Development Levy, currently being used to part-fund the $300 million, six-year Rural Broadband Initiative]. Last year, Telecom’s share of this was about $25m," spokesman Andrew Pirie said. "We wouldn’t be keen on other taxes on top of this, given the wafer thin margins that ISPs already operate on."

The document also proposes allowing New Zealanders to access geo-blocked content (for example, overcoming the technical restriction that stops Kiwis accessing Netflix' streaming video and TV content as American's can). Many do this already, with ISPs legitimising this online-equivalent to parallel importing. The Australian government is considering lifting geo-blocks as a way to encourage online content providers, such as Apple's iTunes, to provide more content regionally, and at a more competitive price. The policy would win favour with those who see software companies and broadcasters protecting old fashioned regional distribution monopolies rather than copyright. In technical terms, it's not clear how it could be implemented for a nation as a whole. However, the government could help out Kiwis seeking to beat geoblocks by making it explicitly that the practice (a grey area at  present) is legal.

Ms Curran also proposes the KiwiCloud - "A fixed amount of encrypted digital storage provided to every citizen again can be provided to some as a benefit. Must be NZ based." It's an idea that could be seen as progressive and pro-privacy, or a state subsidy for people who're looking to stash music, movies and other files online but don't want to stump up for extra Apple iCloud or Google Drive space. The policy has been discribed as very Kim Dotcom-friendly, given the accused pirate founded the only major enrypted online storage service, Mega (mostly hosted in Europe, but with around 10% of its files housed locally by Telecom's Gen-i unit).

The document also raises the idea of the KiwiCap - or a fixed amount of bandwidth for every citizen, provided to some as a benefit. The amoung of gigabytes would be determined by the Commerce Commission.

The document also calls for a Broadband USO (universal service obligation) for 5Mbit/s broadband, and undefined ICT services and content. The unspecified cost of the Broadband USO would be funded out of general taxation.

The David Cunliffe speech notes accidentally sent to Ms Adams add another possible policy, free tablets or laptops for low decile schools.

On social media, some began debating the merits of the ideas in the documents, but others made sport.

"Good that Curran is already practising open govt," tweeted one internet wag.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce weighed with a hashtag, and a couple of ideas of his own:

* David Cunliffe has now acknowledged a member of his staff mistakenly sent the email. 

RAW DATA: Read the policy document (PDF)79.86 KB

More by NBR Staff

Comments and questions

"Platform infrastructure competition is wasteful and anti-competitive. It needs to be open access, regulated for maximum competition and run as a single platform monopoly"

My reading of this is that the cell phone networks need to be run as a single regulated monopoly like Chorus, rather than Telecom, Vodafone, and 2 Degrees building duplicate networks. That is a significant change!

That's my reading too, and it's a horrible thought considering they knock Chorus for having a hardware monopoly in another section. Doesn't make sense.

Is Claire a part of the ABC faction?

More white-anting from within Labour again?

Either way - it's exceptionally untidy and yet more gaffes upon mistakes.

If Cunliffe keeps trending his leadership the way it is currently, he'll be lucky to keep it by the end of March.

[Some media tied Curran to the Grant Robertson camp. See Editor]

Poetically ironic Labour will have a new, new leader come 1st April.

France already have this so called "white network" in rural areas of the country. All the network operators contribute to its operation enabling single towers to be run and good use of spectrum sharing between the operators. Kordia would have been the operator / SOE to do this, if they had won the RBI tender.

“contains no bombshells”….really?? I see this containing only bombshells.

1. A 5Mbps USO: shouldn’t we be worried that this would require $1b+, which Curran specifically says would come from general taxation.
2.“KiwiCap”: guaranteeing specific bandwidth as a “benefit”. Surely a world first and a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist (and funded by USO levy on phone users!)
3.“KiwiCloud”: guaranteeing Cloud storage to every NZer. Again, solving a problem that doesn’t exist and funded by telco users
4.No more infrastructure competition. This is surely the most radical position taken by a potential telco Minister in the developed world!

It's pretty woolly, thin on detail stuff though. Most people will already have more than 5Mbit/s after the RBI and UFB rollouts are complete.

Between them, National's RBI ($300 million) and the UFB ($1.5 billion) are about five times what Labour spent on broadband.

The Rural Broadband Initiative and the Ultrafast Broadband rollout here, and the National Broadband Network/NBN are among many examples of monopoly players at the infrastructure level, at least regionally. Its common in the US and Europe for retail providers to share network infrastructure.

Kiwi cloud: not sure why this is needed when the following are free: mega ;) Dropbox, box, google drive .....

KiwiCloud: A place to put all your important documents that the government promises not to spy on - honest!

No doubt this will later be followed up with promises of iPhones for the unemployed "to help them find work"...

Maybe kim Dotcom can provide the Kiwicloud services? Now there would be an irony....

Choice. I can use it to store all my really important stuff like my photos from my trip to Hooters.

"Roll up, roll up... In the big tent today we have another spectacular show with the red-nosed clowns doing their trip and tumble routine..."

(god help us if the gaff wasn't bad enough, the content shows about as much thought leadership as a goldfish...)

"Platform infrastructure competition is wasteful and anti-competitive. It needs to be open access, regulated for maximum competition and run as a single platform monopoly"

Stripping out the filler this says "competition is anti-competitive" and "regulated for maximum competition as a monopoly". Pure babble. Whoever wrote this has no understanding of the English language. You could write something better using a random sentence generator off google. 30 years ago I would have got detention for turning in writing like this. The minimum wage would be too much to pay someone who wrote this. The writer needs to restart their education.

And I thought the Greens were the Communists.

Have Labour confirmed their candidate for Dunedin South yet?

They're just waiting for them to work out their notice period at TVNZ...

>>KiwiCloud - "A fixed amount of encrypted digital storage provided to every citizen"

- Another socialist utopian dream. Right now everyone can get free encrypted digital storage for free online, and it costs the country nothing. The cost of providing this will run into the billions, as the costs to administer, track and educate. Granny, gets free storage she will have to have someone to show her how to use it. Bill is unemployed and doesn't have a computer and broadband so WINZ will pay for that too. And then the countless millions spent convincing the public it is secure while all the time there are security breaches like all other govt departments.

** WARNING ** Vote buying carrot.

>>KiwiCap - or a fixed amount of bandwidth for every citizen

** WARNING ** Vote buying carrot.


We will promise freebees to buy votes and then put the country into debt once we get in to pay for it. "Lets buy the votes now, and worry about the cost later when it's someone else's problem"

Clare Curran obviously still believes in Santa and that he and his elves will pay for it.

OMG shows how IT savvy the ICT Team is... replace the lot of them with retired engineers not just people the read an issue PC World

Wow, there's some shallow thinking in these comments. You guys are going on about a brainstorming document like it's official Labour policy. I'd like to see the stupid crap that all the other parties have in their internal documents for comparison.

As for the line about platform infrastructure competition being anti-competitive and wasteful, it is, and you can just ask Telecom and Vodafone about that. The spectrum auction was horribly handled, with Telecom and Vodafone effectively being forced to bid way more than they felt was really worth it for the spectrum, and smaller players like 2Degrees not having a hope, because they can't afford to let the competition have more. It is entirely possible to set up "free-market" conditions that have an effect that is opposite to what is desired.

That said, managing to release it like that is pretty stunningly incompetent by whoever sent that email.

Jeez. If that's the cream of a Labour brainstorm, I'd hate to see the dross. It'd be so foul that the Green's would have to try and ban it in case it leaked into the environment.

Just tell them it's dihydrogen monoxide and it shall be done.

Legitimize geoblocking?
Add Sky TV to the list of NZX50 stocks vulnerable to a major correction in the event of a centre left election win.

Just as well Amy's job isn't at the control panel of the U.S. Strategic Command Center, based in Nevada.

They want to place a "Content Levy" on local ISP and content providers but remove geo-blocking for US content??? What are they smoking down there?