The New Zealand Institute, privately funded think tank.
Investigating the case for a major investment in a fibre-based broadband network.
July 2007 – March 2008.
Intuition that current investment trajectory would not maximise value-capture for the country.
Create a vehicle that will invest in a FTTP (fibre to the premises) network capable of reaching at least 75% of the population by 2018.
In mid-2007, The New Zealand Institute made the development of a business case for investment in high speed broadband its top priority. Temple was brought in to help identify the benefits to the economy, and also to generate a fact base that had been missing from the debate – particularly in the area of cost. Institute Chief Executive David Skilling explains that the national debate needed to be shifted from “if” to “how”.
“Our instinct was that there was a major economic upside to a truly high speed network,” Skilling recalls. “But it looked as if the current investment trajectory was not going to capture all of the available value. To make the case we needed to quantify the benefits of a higher-speed network, as well as the costs involved in delivering it – as a precursor to recommending a model to deliver the investment.”
Skilling felt that the Institute needed to move quickly, for three reasons.
- The existing debate about broadband was focusing on network penetration and not speed.
- The policy debate surrounding Telecom’s operating structure created an opportunity for change.
- Every year’s delay was costing the country in lost opportunities.
“I decided to bring in Temple to help move the analysis along more quickly. Paul [Winton, Temple’s Director] had a McKinsey background which meant he talked my language, and he also brought both relevant commercial experience and an engineering background to the table.”
The fact-base required for the business case simply did not exist when the Institute began its work, and developing it went well beyond desk research. Skilling: “Temple had to spend a lot of time on the road talking with civil engineering companies and other crews at the coalface. It was also obviously very important to gather and understand the points of view of the various industry stakeholders. I was pretty stretched, but I knew I could trust Paul to communicate and listen effectively to them whenever necessary, whether they were line managers or the CEO.”
These communication skills were also very important internally, according to Skilling. “Paul was able to challenge me, and our debates were extremely important to the success of the project.”
“Temple’s operating model was also very useful for us,” says Skilling. “Paul brought in other team members on an as-needed basis, and was able to be on the project for just one or two days over an extended period. I felt we got serious bang for buck.”
Certainly the results are impressive. “Our numbers and language are being widely used in the conversation – we’ve helped to shift the debate and had a big impact on policy development.”