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Towards leading-edge connectivity – Massive Progress since 2008

Tidying some papers recently I came across this manifesto. TUANZ produced it just over nine years ago in the lead up to the 2008 election campaign – right at the time when aspirant PM John Key was making his mark.

We produced a lot of papers in my time at TUANZ and to be honest I’d forgotten this one. We used to send a copy to every politician with a personal letter offering a one-on-one briefing. A surprising number used to take up the offer. They’d destroy my diary for weeks!

But when I skimmed through this particular Manifesto II felt pretty good about it.

Because the vision we articulated - which seemed like a stretch goal at the time - is well on the way to fulfilment. It began with the historic 2008 announcement by the National Party of Ultra Fast Broadband, just a few weeks after our manifesto was circulated.

So nine years on, how is our “Vision for a User-driven, Leading Edge, On-Line New Zealand” looking?

  • QUOTE “All New Zealand businesses and government organisations continually look first to communications technology as the key enabler of higher productivity, better economic performance and improved social wellbeing.”

  • I reckon that’s an 8 out of 10. Our national productivity isn’t too flash and the digital divide remains (we need more support for low decile schools to deliver an online education) so I’ll deduct a couple of points. But I think the spirit has been delivered on well.

  • QUOTE “Communications technology is characterised by effective competition in both fixed and mobile service. Rapid deployment of fibre to the premises everywhere through a mix of public and private investment, and a match between the need for ICT skills and the skills available.”

  • Possibly a 9. We have three fully fledged mobile operators. We’ve moved from the dead hand of the Telecom monopoly to a dynamic, highly competitive fixed market with a range of competition including regional telcos or WISPs. UFB is rolling out – it’s a bit slow but the direction of travel is good. ICT skills have become mainstream wisdom – a big shout out to my friend Paul Matthews and the Institute of Information Technology for sterling work in that field, and to the thousands of teachers who have knuckled down to the daunting task of renewing their teaching skills for the digital era.

  • QUOTE: “Fast Internet, both fixed and mobile, is rapidly becoming ubiquitous with speeds and affordability keeping ahead of comparable developed countries. Rural and provincial businesses including farms have harnessed fast Internet to materially improve their sustainable competitive advantage and have started commercialising rural applications of broadband for world markets.”

  • Again an 8, or maybe 7.5. Our fast Internet availability compared to Australia makes the Bledisloe Cup look like a draw – we are light years ahead. Our farms are so involved in digital farm management that there are whole conferences dedicated to it. But there are still a lot of rural properties without broadband. Forthcoming announcements about RBI2 will close the gap but we now need a gap analysis and a plan and timetable. The new aspiration must be city grade broadband to, and across, every farm and rural property.

In summary, that's a pretty awesome outcome. I take a lot of pride in having been part of it along with the visionary members of the TUANZ Board and membership who all contributed at the time and since. Together with the government and many others we can all take some credit.

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