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Big benefits for Manukau from broadband

Big benefits for Manukau from broadband

Manukau City Council is working with telecommunications companies (telcos) to make broadband technology more widely available to households and businesses in Manukau.

Broadband is a giant leap forward in information technology and has huge potential for families and individuals, as well as for companies eager to use the latest technology to help them expand.

Internationally it has become an essential communications tool because it allows much faster exchange of information than current technology such as traditional phone lines, which are rapidly being seen as dated and inadequate.

Broadband requires special technology installed by telcos. It replaces the current phone lines which are unable to meet the growing demands for rapid communication of information via new technologies such as the Internet. At the moment there are gaps in the delivery of broadband, which means households and businesses in many areas of Manukau are unable to get it.

For businesses it can cut delivery times and create new opportunities both in sales and in reducing costs. In a tightly-competitive world marketplace requiring innovation, flexibility, and fast responses, it can provide the edge that companies need to succeed. The applications include email, graphics, special-effects software and video production.

The introduction of broadband is part of a push to change Manukau into a wired, smart city which is one of the key goals for its future development.

Internationally, New Zealand has been a slow starter in this area. Around 4% of homes or businesses in Manukau already have broadband, compared to the national average of 2.5%. However Korea has 56% penetration, and the US 27% as of last year.

Households and individuals are increasingly using the Internet as a source of information rather than traditional sources such as books and libraries. Broadband will allow downloading of information from the Internet up to five times faster than at present.

It is also becoming essential for people wanting to shop and bank online, and in homes with more than one computer, multiple phone lines or in families using their computer screen as a source of entertainment as well as for paying bills.

It could also allow families to take part in “video-conferencing”, such as directly beaming video pictures from inside a classroom for children at home sick or unable to attend classes for a variety of reasons. A nationwide project called PROBE will be an important step to achieve video-conferencing possibilities. It aims to roll out broadband to all schools and communities that do not have access to broadband and to encourage competition in broadband telecommunications outside the metropolitan areas.

All these potential uses require cabling technology that can handle high-speed downloading and exchange of information.

One fast-growing Manukau company, Deane Apparel, has found that, due to e-commerce, it has an advantage over its rivals in Australian markets. It can take orders for its clothing and deliver to the customer faster than even Australian companies can do, the result of top-quality customer service plus clever use of e-technology.

Small businesses, which make up the vast majority of businesses in New Zealand, stand to benefit enormously, particularly those which export and use the net in a serious way through e-commerce. It can give an edge in highly competitive markets by cutting delivery times, and overcome the “tyranny of distance” - the difficulties stemming from being so far from overseas markets.

For industries using “knowledge workers”, broadband will become an essential everyday tool, as necessary as a computer terminal.

It also has great potential for education and training. It could, for example, allow disadvantaged people better access to studying or upskilling. The Council is working on a pilot project that would allow people who cannot go to tertiary institutions for a variety of reasons to study at remote sites such as churches, libraries or other community locations.

In addition to working with telecommunications companies such as Telecom, TestraClear and Walker Wireless, the Council is running seminars, publishing an e-zine, and is considering a change to the planning regulations to underline the importance of ensuring communities get access to the cabling needed to introduce broadband. Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says, “I look forward to the Manukau of the future, where the workforce is well-educated and highly skilled, and which embraces the benefits of new technology both at work and at home. Broadband is essential to help us get there. “It is also going to help the Council. We are committed to introducing new business practices and technologies to make our services to ratepayers and residents better, and to deliver those services faster and more efficiently.“

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