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Digital Strategy 2.0 welcomed

Media Release - 28 August 2008

InternetNZ (the Internet Society of New Zealand Inc) broadly supports the Government’s Digital Strategy 2.0 which was released today. InternetNZ asserts the plan provides a robust framework for New Zealand’s future in the digital world, but notes ongoing concern that the included broadband targets remain too slow.

“The Strategy builds on the strong framework developed in the first Digital Strategy, and adds a useful broader dimension focusing on the outcomes that digital technology can have on people’s lives and impact on the broader economy. This is an improvement, and as a whole the Strategy remains a world-leading approach,” says Keith Davidson, InternetNZ Executive Director.

InternetNZ does hold some concerns about the connectivity targets contained in the Strategy, regarding the targets set as inadequate to deliver the gains that true high-speed broadband allows. The Strategy aims to deliver broadband connections of 20Mbit/s or higher to 80 percent of users by 2012, and 10 Mbit/s or higher to 90 percent of users. True high speed broadband is only envisioned by 2018, a decade from today.

Keith Davidson says the targets are a significant improvement on those in the previous Strategy, but that the 2012 targets remain insufficient, and in InternetNZ’s view are based on unrealistically low assumptions for bandwidth demand in 2012.

“Many countries are already deploying infrastructure that delivers connectivity speeds in excess of those this Strategy sets out for New Zealand. The applications and services this infrastructure allows will not be available to Kiwis unless our infrastructure keeps up. The new Strategy could and should have set world-leading targets, but it has failed to capitalize on the opportunity to do so.

“The only predictable aspect of bandwidth is that demand is growing rapidly and that new applications will require ever more bandwidth,” he says. New Zealand’s use of higher bandwidth uses like YouTube is already lagging behind OECD averages, and unless we lift our game New Zealand will struggle to catch up.”

InternetNZ is very pleased that Strategy has committed additional funding to NetSafe and to the Aotearoa People’s Network. “The extra resourcing will enable NetSafe to play a greater role in ensuring confidence through cyber-safety education, though more funding would allow even more use of NetSafe’s world-leading expertise in making the Internet safer for Kiwis. The People’s Network should benefit from greater community reach, giving more communities the chance to experience very high speed broadband.

The Strategy also includes a new action point relating to scoping the establishment of a national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), with InternetNZ as one of the responsible agencies.

“Cyber security is a growing threat to New Zealand businesses and the economy as a whole,” says Davidson. “The Society is committed to working with key stakeholders in both industry and Government to fully investigate the establishment of an NZCERT.”

The Strategy acknowledges the rapidly looming exhaustion of IPv4 addresses, and this acknowledgement is important and welcome. The Strategy doesn’t acknowledge the urgent need to migrate networks to IPv6.

“The world is running out of IP numbers and there is a growing urgency for New Zealand to formulate a transition plan from IPv4 to IPv6. Government should be providing more of a leadership role in this regard,” says Davidson.

More pleasing is additional funding tagged for completing a review of broadcasting regulation. “This is welcome,” he says.

“However, the Society maintains that the convergence of broadcasting, communications and IT is occurring at such a rapid pace that the Government needs to seriously consider combining all of these policy functions into a single ministry.

The Strategy will also see the introduction of a Digital Content Innovation Cluster, which InternetNZ fully supports. “It is applications that are going to drive new forms of content and we support the goal of leveraging emerging opportunities in digital content,” says Davidson.

“I commend the work that government and the whole industry have done together in developing this new Digital Strategy 2.0. It sets out a map to a future where New Zealanders can make use of leading digital technology anywhere, any time. The areas which require further improvement will continue to be in InternetNZ’s sights in the coming months,” concludes Davidson.


ENDS

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