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Waitakere Online supports Govt’s internet review

Media release
February 9, 2006

Waitakere Online supports Government’s internet review

Waitakere Online, an online community for Waitakere City residents and businesses, supports plans to review regulation of internet providers.

The board of Waitakere Online yesterday unanimously endorsed the fast implementation of broadband as key to increasing economic activity in the region. This follows news that Communications Minister David Cunliffe is reviewing internet regulations and will have a decision by the middle of the year.

The Waitakere Online portal provides a technological window into hundreds of local businesses, community organisations and services in Waitakere City. Waitakere Online was established in 2004 as part of Waitakere City’s Digital City strategy to provide timely content to its community. A key part of the strategy is the ability for all residents, businesses and communities in Waitakere City, to have access to a broadband connection.

“We welcome the fact the Government acknowledges there is room for improvement in the speed of access to the internet. It’s essential everyone who wishes to can get online as fast and as cheaply as anyone else in the OECD,” says Waitakere City Councillor Linda Cooper, a member of the Waitakere Online editorial board.

“Currently, New Zealand ranks near the bottom of the OECD countries for broadband adoption. Rural communities such as Karekare, Laingholm and Parau and even parts of more urban areas such as West Harbour cannot receive access to broadband due to old technology. Until there is more action to improve this access we cannot fully become a Digital City,” says Councillor Cooper.

Waitakere business leader Ken Stevens, Executive Chairman of Glidepath Ltd, a baggage handling systems company, also supports the Government’s focus on internet speed.

“In the ultra competitive business environment in Asia, our key market, we can only compete by using email. The huge files we send to multiple addresses mean we need to be assured of a fast broadband service, or be out of business within 12 months. Comparatively, when we visit our Dallas Texas manufacturing unit, we note their electronic file transfer is many times faster than ours in New Zealand, resulting in increased efficiency and professionalism,” says Mr. Stevens.

According to a recent Waitakere City Council survey (August 2005), more than 23 percent of Waitakere households have a Broadband Internet connection. This is above the national average but is still low by international standards.

This same survey found 51 percent of businesses in Waitakere have access to a Broadband connection however it is not clear what the speed and capacity of these connections are.

To fill in these gaps the Waitakere Online Editorial Board is planning a survey to discover how Waitakere City’s residents use the internet and what they want in the future.

For more information on Waitakere Online log on to www.waitakereonline.co.nz.

ENDS

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