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Brislen on Tech

Paul Brislen, Editor. 15 May 2020, 2:39 pm

Here's this week's Brislen on Tech from TechBlog editor Paul Brislen


Two aerials meet on a roof, fall in love and get married.

The service was rubbish but the reception was brilliant.

It's the nearest thing to a cellphone joke I have so you'll just have to put up with it I'm afraid. Of course, not all cellphone related commentary is a joke and this week is no different with yet another cellphone tower being torched because someone is bored and believes everything they read on the internet.

But there is better news - the government has done away with the 5G spectrum auction and decided to hand out the spectrum directly, at a minimal cost. Instead of spending tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars on a licence to deploy the network, the telcos will be able to spend that money on the actual network itself.

These are only short-term licences but it's a fantastic move as it helps jump start the network deployment and speed up getting more capacity out there so when the devices do all come online (as they will once the predominantly Chinese manufacturing plants get back up to speed) we can start taking advantage of the additional speed.

I still get asked what benefits there are about 5G connectivity over 4G, and once again it's just like the questions I used to get about fibre versus copper, about 4G versus 3G and about broadband versus dial up. No, it won't make your email arrive that much faster, but it will enable far more users to do more at the same time on the same cell site. For the jump from 4G to 5G we'll move from dozens of concurrent users to hundreds and that's great news for anyone who's ever had a call drop because all the kids came out of class and started messaging each other.

Plus there will be the usual round of developers who realise there are things they'll be able to do far more effectively now they can connect at those kinds of speeds and low latency - particular in the IoT space.

The next step will be to see just where the operators roll out and how fast they can reach out into regional and rural New Zealand because that's where the economic opportunity really lies and given the state of the economy following COVID-19, that's going to be critically important.

Techblog - No 5G auction - spectrum allocated instead

NZ Herald - Arson attack cause of Spark mobile outage in Māngere, Auckland

NZ Herald - 2degrees boss on profit jump, deal talk, 5G machinations

NZ Herald - 5G auction cancelled, Govt dishes out cheap spectrum directly instead

NZ Herald - Stuff Fibre sold to Vocus


Budget: This time no peeking

Is it really a year since we poured over the great Budget website hack and realised it was actually a feature, not a bug?

So long ago now, but here we are facing a $50 billion spend to kick start the economy and to try to stave off the worst impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak and its devastating impact on our tourism and retail sectors, not to mention employment.

Jobs, training and infrastructure are the three watchwords for this year's spend and that's probably appropriate. So where does the tech sector fit in and what was said about our contribution and potential upside?

Well, sadly, very little. On the plus side, this is probably because we're not haemorrhaging money like some sectors, but on the downside surely this is the chance to reset our economic aspirations and the tech sector is the way to do that.

Infrastructure in this budget means transport, housing and ports and while those are all important things the tech sector and its needs are largely left unattended.

So it's up to us in the sector to demonstrate how quickly we can spin up training programmes, how much demand there is for coding and how well we can play with those who used to be airline pilots or baristas and start turning the promises of the last two decades into the jobs and opportunities for the next two.

No big thing.

Stuff - Budget 2020: Here's everything you need to know about the announcement

Reseller News - Budget 2020: Support for e-commerce announced

RNZ - Budget 2020: What you need to know

Treasury - Budget 2020


Contact tracing

While we still wait to see if the government contact tracing app will be launched any time soon, there are plenty of commercial offers out there that will soon be driving us all mad with their requirements.

Cafes, bars, offices, even city councils are all starting to deploy apps that let them gather information on who's where, and potentially make contact with them if and when someone is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Of course, the thing about contact tracing is it makes it very easy to trace people with whom you have been in contact and for some this is just a bit too tempting especially when it comes to (shall we say) reaching out.

One Auckland woman was left shaken and rightly freaked out when a stranger contacted her on various social media platforms after she had checked in at a fast food café and used the company's tracing app.

The man in question has been suspended and an investigation is underway but this kind of behaviour isn't going to help anyone feel comfortable using these kinds of apps and we potentially lose a vital tool in the fight against the second wave.

Newshub - Auckland woman 'creeped out' after restaurant worker uses her contact tracing details to hit on her

NZ Herald - Rhema Vaithianathan: NZ is the Wild West of contact tracing


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Richard Shorter 15 May 2020, 3:33 pm

Surprised that there has been no comment on Immigration NZ's lack of technology preparedness to support its staff working from home.

No wonder all the temporary workers cannot get any help with their Visas!

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