TUANZ calls for the next Government to commit to connectivity as a core utility

Ahead of the general election in October, The Tech Users Association (TUANZ) has called on whoever makes up the next Government to commit to connectivity as a core utility.

The challenges presented by the significant weather events of early 2023 have shed light on the need for resilient connectivity, especially in rural communities.

“While much of urban New Zealand has persevered without interruption, rural and regional users have faced varying degrees of disconnection. As the nation embarks on an infrastructure rebuild in numerous areas, it’s clear that we need to ensure that the lessons learned about connectivity resilience are not forgotten. The goal is not just to restore the status quo, but to construct a stronger, more resilient digital infrastructure,” says TUANZ CEO Craig Young.

Upon completion of current rural broadband initiatives, including RBI2, MBSF, and the Marae Connectivity Programme, over 99 percent of New Zealand’s population will benefit from improved broadband coverage. However, there remains work to be done. Approximately 100,000 individuals still lack connectivity, and ensuring equitable access to high-speed broadband for all users is paramount.

Addressing rural connectivity challenges goes beyond mere coverage and capacity enhancements. Factors such as affordability, digital literacy, skill development, and value also need to be considered. Additionally, ensuring accessible support and information is available within rural communities is essential so they can be informed consumers.

“This isn’t just about rural and remote communities. In the wake of the 2023 weather events, the need for infrastructure capable of weathering future disruptions has become evident. New Zealand anticipates continued population migration from urban to regional and rural areas, placing increased demand on connectivity. This requires faster resupply times and the implementation of more robust solutions to maintain network availability during emergencies,” says Craig.

“Connectivity is no longer a luxury but a necessity for full participation in the digital world. Resilient connectivity will only be possible if connectivity is seen as a lifeline and prioritised. This will require more strategic alignment, collaboration, and communication between Government, internet service providers (RSPs), wireless internet service providers (WISPs), infrastructure providers, Marae, and community groups.”

TUANZ has put forward the following recommendations to Government:

  • Government recognising and prioritising connectivity is a key utility like electricity or water.
  • Government needs to continue to invest to close the gap between rural and urban quality of service and to consider the socio-economic benefits in their business case discussions.
  • Development with the industry of a national connectivity register linking addresses to connections to ensure help is provided to the right people.

For further comment or interview, please contact Craig Young

Phone: 021 488 188

Email: craig.young@tuanz.org.nz

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