​Who’s missed the NZ broadband point? National or Labour?

Are New Zealand businesses becoming disillusioned with internet services at a national level?

New Zealand businesses are becoming disillusioned with internet services at a national level, according to another attack on the Government from the opposition.

Fresh from news that the latest MYOB Business Monitor shows a slip in satisfaction levels with internet access - including speed and reliability - across New Zealand, Labour has wasted no time in targeting the Government’s national broadband roll-out.

As reported by Computerworld New Zealand, MYOB findings claim that 40 percent of businesses are happy with internet service, which according to Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran, “only touches the surface of regional dissatisfaction”.

“According to MYOB satisfaction with internet service has fallen from 49 per cent to 40 per cent,” Curran claims.

“That’s a big drop. Business technology is improving at a far quicker pace than National’s broadband roll-out, especially in the regions. This has caused dissatisfaction in regional businesses according to council surveys.”

Delving deeper, Curran claims that in Clutha, 33 percent of businesses believe internet is “very slow or unreliable”.

“Fonterra says poor internet speed in the area constrains the ability of staff to work remotely and attract talent to remote towns or locations,” Curran alleges.

“In Southland 38 per cent of businesses say the internet doesn’t meet their needs. In Otago it’s 33 per cent. Businesses are extremely dissatisfied across the country.”

Despite such apparent issues, Curran also moved to slam Genesis Energy’s ability to place a 55 km cable to its Tuai dam in the “middle of nowhere” when regional businesses across the country would “dearly love better access to broadband.”

For Curran, there is a digital urban-rural divide opening up that is hurting New Zealand businesses.

“The shambles of National’s rural broadband must be fixed,” she adds.

Classic mistake?

Quick to defend the Government’s national broadband plans however, Communications Minister Amy Adams told Computerworld New Zealand that Labour, and in this instance Curran, has made the “classic mistake” of conflating the two separate issues of internet and fibre.

“These are two separate issues,” Adams argues. “I can understand how frustrating it must be in some parts of New Zealand to be using unreliable or slow internet, which is why the Government is investing $2 billion into rolling out world-class fibre and rural connectivity.

“Poor internet isn't a bad reflection on our UFB network but a reality for New Zealand homes and businesses which we are addressing through our $2 billion connectivity plan.”

In addition, it’s worth noting that the survey also found that 61 percent of business operators believe the key benefits of UFB would be to improve their connection and speeds, which in the words of Adams, “is exactly what the network aims to do”.

“That 22 percent of surveyed businesses are already connected is encouraging and well-ahead of the national uptake rate of 14.6 percent,” Adams adds.

“UFB has been a huge success. Uptake is forging ahead and retail providers can't keep up with demand.

“I’m focused on rolling out the next generation of technology, while Labour remains fixated on the past.”

In closing, Adams says that while the MYOB survey makes the distinction between Internet and access to UFB but Labour “has missed the point.”

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