Opinion: Is it time for a Superuser group?

The idea of merging InternetNZ and Tuanz should be revived, says Sarah Putt

In its latest round of membership consultation, InternetNZ received feedback that it should take a more active part in network issues, such as the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative and mobile data roaming charges.

Members also said the organisation’s objectives were boring, it was light on Maori and women members and had failed to attract young people — but let’s focus on the idea that its members want InternetNZ to tackle issues such as what telcos charge users for mobile calls and the ongoing controversy over roaming rates.

If InternetNZ were to become a fully-fledged user group – and diving into the contentious but weirdly compelling world of mobile charges would make it one — where would that leave the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (Tuanz),whose long-standing CEO Ernie Newman is about to retire?

OK, so here is a thought — what about a merger? Why don’t the two organisations come together and form a Superuser group. It would be well funded. InternetNZ collects around $6.5 million a year in domain name fees (a sizeable chunk goes on administering internet address, the rest is used for advocacy work). Tuanz members pay annual fees and the organisation also funds itself through an events programme.

I know this might seem old ground – a merger has been suggested before and failed to eventuate. I (and by the way I should declare that I was employed by TUANZ from 2006 to 2008) have been told the reasons the two didn’t get together before is because both organisations have different goals. InternetNZ is there to advocate on behalf of the internet as an entity and Tuanz is there for the business user. Well, yeah, kind of hair splitting if you ask me.

But think what a group that advocates on behalf of businesses and consumers, which is well resourced, which has offices in Wellington and Auckland, which has a range of voices able to comment effectively on all user issues – think what that could achieve and how that could keep the telcos and the various government agencies honest.

If eight Auckland councils can become a Supercity then why can’t these two organisations become a Superuser group?

Putt is Computerworld's editor

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