Broadband Commission says NZ doing well
The Broadband Commission for Digital Development report for 2015 puts New Zealand's broadband development in the top 20 globally.
While many would complain that broadband speeds and reach are lower than they would like, New Zealand is doing well by international standards, particularly in the areas of fibre to the home and mobile broadband deployment.
But the telco sector is not without its issues and declining revenue is a serious problem for the network operators.
The Commission, launched in 2010, is a joint venture from the UN and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and aims to "promote the adoption of effective and inclusive broadband policies and practices in countries around the world".
The Commission believes better access to the internet, and in particular high speed broadband services, will benefit communities on many levels. Economic aspirations are well reported but the Commission also points to educational and social outcomes as evidence of the powers of broadband connectivity.
The UN will hold a summit in New York later this month seeking support for its "Sustainable Development Goals" (SDG). The report from that meeting, "Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", acknowledges that "the spread of information and communication technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress".
New Zealand's approach to both fibre deployment and the digital divide is well regarded by the Commission, with our Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) both coming in for praise.
"Both [initiatives are] well underway with strong deployment and connectivity momentum across the country."
The report says a unified national policy of broadband deployment is key to realising the benefits of broadband and New Zealand's approach is capable of adding US$21.6bn in economic benefits over the next 20 years.
Internationally, the deployment of mobile broadband services is taking over from fixed line as the preferred medium, and the report notes that most new users of the internet will come to the network via a mobile device rather than a fixed-line device in the coming years.
However the digital divide is still a major concern. While the leading developed nations have usage rates in the 90% range, developing nations still have a long way to go. In the least developed countries, only 10% of the population has regular access to the internet and globally, 57% (4.2 billion) people do not enjoy regular access to the internet.
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Hopefully the reported 'connectivity momentum' will continue. However, personally what I find frustrating, is that for those of us still living in a telecommunications land that time forgot (semi-rural Upper Hutt), there is:
a. No plan available to indicate when, or even whether RBI towers will eventually cover our neighbourhood.
b. No interest (at least by the major telcos) in putting-in repeaters to make it happen anyway.
c. Zero support for any self-help attempts to get connected.
Possibly we're an anomaly though that seems unlikely.