The opportunity for New Zealand to use ultra fast broadband to lift our economic game cannot be over-stated. ICT has overcome much of the isolation that has constrained our economic progress for centuries.
During his tenure as CEO of TUANZ and concurrently, Chair of, the Netherlands-based global body for telecommunications user associations INTUG, Ernie Newman became engaged constantly in leading- edge thinking about how ubiquitous broadband can enable a society where distance and location really don’t matter.
In 2002 under his leadership, TUANZ instigated the National Broadband Applications Project, a major three day residential conference of business and government leaders that envisaged how fast, ubiquitous broadband could transform New Zealand. A book was written on the outcome of the conference which nearly 2 decades on looks startlingly prophetic.
Over the years Ernie has listened to, and delivered, countless presentations about the fundamental changes broadband offers to society in all corners of the globe. He has addressed conferences in London, Berlin, Delhi, Tokyo, Brussels, Copenhagen, Lima, Santiago, Calgary, Sydney, Paris and numerous other centres. For one excmple of his perspective on the potential of the Internet era to invigorate the New Zealand economy check his presentation to Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.
Already many people are choosing to live in the world’s most attractive locations, New Zealand included, while working remotely for employers where the greatest opportunities exist such as Silicon Valley, Asia or Europe. They benefit from the best of both worlds - idyllic lifestyles with the best available rewards.
Hence Ernie was instrumental in convincing the government to put taxpayer money into fibre optic residential connectivity .He counts among his most satisfying days 22 April 2008, when he sat next to Hon John Key (then Leader of the Opposition, now Prime Minister) to hear the announcement of the National Party’s commitment to a fibre to the home network. This instantly elevated fast broadband to a national development issue. State investment into a high speed network became a bi-partisan policy.
Ernie is passionate about the nation-building potential of fibre optic connectivity. Broadband opens up massive opportunities for fundamentally new ways of living, working and socialising.Some of these are happening now or have been around for a number of years – Internet banking, government services and on-line trading are examples. But others have been slower to catch on or are just leaving the starting blocks – e-Learning,e-Health and large scale telework are among these.Big multi-national businesses in general are totally on line. Small enterprises range from early adopters to laggards.
The biggest unexploited opportunities, arguably, are those where government and the private sector both have a role – health, social services and education. These are most challenging because of the need to align multiple enterprises and government agencies with agendas which though similar, have important points of difference and political sensitivity.
Ernie has worked extensively and deeply in e-Health, e-Learning, telework, and other elements of the 21st century ICT-enabled society including some of the spin-off issues such as privacy. Among many assignments since becoming a consultant was the drafting of two chapters of the NZ Commerce Commission's Demand Side Study for fibre to the home, on e-learning and e-health.
In 2015 so far he has worked with several parties preparing Registrations of Interest in the next round of Ultra Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband funding, on both the support and supply sides.
He has a strong conviction and vision about our economic and social future in this new age.