ICT Minister Amy Adams has told an audience of telecommunications professionals that her department is looking at ways to ensure kiwi consumers are able to differentiate between broadband offerings on the new Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) fibre network.
It’s early days at this stage, but the measures could include some form of regulation, Adams told delegates at the Tel.Con12 telecommunications conference.
"We want to ensure that as fibre broadband becomes available outside of the tech community end users are able to differentiate between broadband offerings,” Adams says.
Problems like roaming ‘bill shock’ and frustration over data caps are ‘the thin end of the wedge’ when it comes to user education, Adams says.
"Our officials are currently talking with stakeholder groups and we will go from there.”
Adams also announced a second and final phase of contracts under the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), valued at $14.4 million.
$12 million of that will go to Chorus and Network Tasman, to deploy fibre to 193 provincial schools, 183 rural public libraries, 37 rural hospitals and 10 health centres.
A further $2.4 million has been awarded to Chorus, Inspire.net, Gisborne.net and Araneo, to connect 57 remote schools with fast wireless broadband.
"The government promised that no school would miss out on faster broadband and I’m delighted to say we’re delivering on that promise,” Adams says.
The challenge now is to maximise the benefits of these deals by encouraging a ‘digitally literate New Zealand’, Adams adds.
This involves growing skills in computing among the whole population, as well as changing the perception about careers in IT, particularly amongst the young. Examples like the purchase of Instagram by Facebook show that IT isn’t just about sitting at a helpdesk, Adams says.
"There’s no reason that app couldn’t have been made here.”