ICT Minister speech notes: TUANZ Telecommunications Day

Thursday May 19, 2011

The following speech notes were provided by officials to ICT Minister Steven Joyce for a speech he gave at the TUANZ Telecommunications Day in Wellington on Thursday May 19, 2011. Please note that Joyce may or may not have used these notes in his actual speech and he cannot be quoted as having said any of these points unless there is an independent note or recording that he did so.

Introduction

  • Looking forward 25 years is a daunting prospect. To see why, we have only to take a brief look back over the past 25 years.
  • TUANZ was formed in 1986. Like today, that was a time of enormous and far reaching change in the telecommunications industry. The New Zealand Post Office was not separated into three parts until a year later in 1987 when it became Telecom New Zealand, the Postbank and New Zealand Post.
  • Under the old Post Office regime it was actually illegal for any two businesses, or even for parts of the same business in different locations, to communicate with each other using means other than Post Office lines and Post Office approved equipment. A pair of 9.8 kilobit-per-second modems would set you back around $20,000. Most non-postal business written communication was conducted via fax.
  • The first real broadband available to households was introduced to New Zealand in the early to mid 1990s when Saturn started deploying cable in Wellington and the Hutt Valley and Telecom launched its ADSL-based Jetstream service.
  • Reform of the telecommunications industry was an essential precursor to the development and deployment of the Internet as we know it today but it took another decade for the Internet to become visible as an important component of business and social communications.
  • It is sobering to realise that the first mention of the Internet in the Infotech section of the Dominion Post was as late as 1995.
  • Today, of course, we cannot discuss telecommunications without thinking in terms of the Internet and the myriad of applications that depend on it. The Internet is critical to economic development.
  • The OECD has noted that some studies suggest that in an economy where the Internet develops 10 percent more than in another economy (e.g. 20 percent yearly growth instead of 10 percent), that economy’s GDP is expected to grow at a rate of up to 1.5 percentage points higher than in the similar economy with a slower developing Internet.
  • Looking forward another 25 years, it is very possible that the Internet, as such, will be just an interesting footnote in the history books. By then, continuous high speed communications between devices of all sorts will be as ubiquitous as electric powered devices are today. We stand on the brink of this now with personal communications devices such as the iPad. This is just the beginning.

Context

  • We've locked in contracts for the Rural Broadband Initiative which will offer fast broadband choices to a quarter of a million New Zealanders who are currently struggling with dial. Roll out will start in just a few weeks.
  • We're on the verge of announcing the Crown's partners for the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative which will see 75% of New Zealanders able to connect to world class broadband speeds at accessible prices.
  • And we're settling on a regulatory framework that supports these initiatives and supports competition to the long term benefit of end users.

Government’s Action Plan For the Benefits of Broadband

  • So today, in keeping with the future focussed theme of this event, I want to talk about what happens next. I've got a five point plan I want to share with you today with the working title Government’s Action Plan For the Benefits of Broadband.

  • We're putting this plan together to ensure that the whole country takes advantage of the communication benefits, the productivity benefits and the transformational benefits of the UFB and RBI.

  • That action plan covers five key areas:
  • E-education
  • E-Health
  • E-Govt
  • E-Business
  • E-Development – including Maori Development

E-Education

  • With UFB and RBI – 97 percent of NZ Schools and 99.7% of students will have access to Ultra-fast Broadband within five years! That will be an amazing achievement.
  • The remaining three per cent will have fast broadband by satellite or point-to-point wireless.
  • By the end of this year 1/3 of schools will have had their SNUP upgrades. The SNUP programme will continue and will be completed by 2016 right in time for RBI and UFB fibre deployment.
  • To maximise the benefits that this infrastructure will provide and providing a compelling proposition for take up by schools the Ministry of Education is putting together a full and detailed business for a National Education Network. Cabinet will shortly be considering how to progress this.
  • Fibre to schools enhanced by an NEN will revolutionise the way that we deliver education.
  • It will mean that students in Greymouth or Kaitaia wanting to study French will have access to the best teachers in New Zealand or, for that matter, anywhere in the world.
  • It will provide access to a range of resources in real time and on demand - like visiting the Smithsonian online or accessing records from the Library of Congress.

E-Government

  • We're making huge investments - billion of dollars - in government ICT projects across a range of agencies to improve user experience, and to do more, for less.

  • Increasingly, and rightly, New Zealanders are coming to expect the kind ease of access and customisation from their tax records, vehicle licensing and student loans that they get from their online banking.

  • Across the public sector agencies are working to make sense of how web based delivery can transform the way they relate to their clients: What about a central government log-on that allows you to access range information and protects your privacy? Can we arrange government services around life events - starting university, having a baby - rather than traditional organisational boundaries?

  • As well as providing for improved service delivery there are key opportunities for Government to harness UFB and RBI to work more efficiently. These can range from video link access to LanguageLine interpreters for those who don't speak English to opportunities to better monitor traffic flows and road conditions and manage the highway network more appropriately as a result.

  • It's the job of the Ministerial Committee on ICT to keep a watchful eye over the development of these projects. As much as we're keen to harness the service delivery and productivity benefits of UFB and RBI we also need to ensure that the initiatives departments pursue deliver real value for money improvement.

E-health

  • E-health will be transformative. It will change the way that we deliver services to patients, for the better.

  • Real time two way video connections allow diagnosis from afar. We can spread specialists’ knowledge to all corners of New Zealand and, in many cases, save patients trips to other centres to access the expertise they need.

  • I recently travelled to a trilateral summit with the Australians and Koreans in Tasmania where I had the opportunity to see demonstrations of some of the fibre based technology being roled out in Korea. I found the health applications particularly impressive.

  • I saw x-ray and CT images delivered over fibre in seconds, displayed with detail as clear as anything you'd traditionally see printed and held against the light in a hospital. I'm no doctor but I'm confident that access to images like these, quickly delivered, zoomed, and rotated at the bush of a button will be a valuable clinical tool that will contribute to better patient care.

  • One Korean technology being piloted showed real promise for emergency management. It provided for mobile handsets' location to be identified and customised specific information delivered to them by text or email explaining how to best respond to a natural disaster - where to find higher ground in a tsunami, medical assistance after an earthquake or clean water after a flood.

  • There are a lot of opportunities to harness that will be built on better broadband to New Zealand's health sector. That's why delivery to hospitals is a priority in both the UFB and RBI initiatives.

  • To support the deployment of health technology as best we can the Government has recently produced its Health IT plan. The Health IT Plan recognises the critical role clinicians play in leading the development of integrated clinical pathways to improve the design and operation of health IT solutions. I'm looking forward to seeing its development.

E-Business

  • Working with NZICT and other business leaders to harness the opportunities of the UFB and the RBI – maximising competitive advantage.

  • For business, our broadband plans will bring the ability to expand and operate globally without the massive costs and risk associated with physically setting up in new markets.

  • It means taking our services to the world, without even leaving the office.

  • And this isn’t just about desk-based business – the benefits to the agricultural sector will be huge both in terms of efficiency gains and the ability to reach the world.

  • Recently the Livestock Improvement Corporation paid me a visit. Their business helps farmers to better monitor and manage their stock. Historically with rural clients unable to access broadband they relied on manual updates from CDs or even floppy disks. Broadband and the ability to deliver services through the cloud has fundamentally changed their business model. And now the RBI is improving the reach of that new delivery platform.

E-Development – including Maori

  • Removing the tyranny of distance faced by many of our more isolated communities – including Maori communities. The RBI will mean these communities do not fall behind through lack of access to the best healthcare, education and business services.

  • The RBI delivers broadband to rural areas at great prices. Pricing for fast broadband for rural New Zealanders is going to be comparable to what urban New Zealanders pay. These are great strides towards reducing the digital divide between urban and rural New Zealand.

  • The National Maori RBI Working Group – Nga Pu Waea – will advise on Maori interests and development opportunities in broadband, and work to ensure that marae, kohanga, kura, wananga, iwi runanga and Maori health and social service providers benefit from the roll-out of broadband into rural areas

  • To finish, I want to show you that the kind of future I've described in my five points above is already beginning in New Zealand with a short video.
VIDEO
  • There are some great stories there from early adopters who understand the power that UFB and RBI can provide. What we're working towards now, and what I will keep in mind as the action plan I've outlined today develops is that soon stories like these will be the rule, and not the exception.

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