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Wellington hosts major Internet conference

13 January 2006

Surf’s up – Wellington hosts major Internet conference

More than 700 people and representatives from 90 governments will be ‘surfing’ in Wellington next month as the city hosts a major international conference on the Internet.

Communications Minister David Cunliffe and Wellington’s Mayor Kerry Prendergast today announced the ICANN Wellington conference by straddling surfboards. (See photo op details below)

ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit international organisation that oversees much of the Internet's operations.

The March 27-31 conference is the first time an ICANN meeting has been held in New Zealand. Considerable interest will attach to a United Nations-led push to create a separate organisation to ICANN to provide governance of Internet issues such as spam, cyber-crime and identity theft.

David Cunliffe said the government was committed to economic transformation. Better ICT was fundamental to that strategy and funding had been provided to help bring the ICANN conference to New Zealand.

“The government’s Digital Strategy is now giving seed funding to encourage the rest of the country to match the broadband infrastructure which has helped Wellington become known internationally as a vibrant, creative and connected city.”

Mr Cunliffe will attend the conference’s opening ceremony. He will meet ICANN chair, Vint Cerf, an international ambassador for Google, who is regarded as the ‘father’ of the Internet. Mr Cerf will also visit Weta Digital while he is in Wellington.

Kerry Prendergast said Wellington is best placed to host an ICANN conference because the CityLink broadband cable and wireless network is among the best in the world.

“Wellington City Council was instrumental in getting CityLink off the ground. That’s now paying dividends, with several hundred foreign visitors here for a week and international media attention.”

Organising the conference is InternetNZ, the non-profit organisation that manages the .nz domain name. Executive director Keith Davidson said InternetNZ was delighted to have secured such a large conference for Wellington. He said it would provide an opportunity to showcase the initiative of CityLink and the city council in making Wellington one of the world’s longest-established open access high-speed broadband networks.

“Just about all of the 700 delegates will have a laptop and will need constant, rapid connections to countries all over the world. Because of the CityLink’s cable and wireless network, we can deliver that.”

Mr Davidson says the conference will provide some international perspectives about the rest of New Zealand’s woeful record on broadband connectivity and the failure to unbundle Telecom’s copper wire network to wide competition.

ICANN’s mandate is to ensure the cohesion and coordination of the Internet’s core function for resolving issues about domain names and numbers. The Wellington conference agenda includes some thorny topics, including decisions on whether to authorise the creation of .xxx, a top-level domain name for pornography.


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