In the face of government’s apparent unwillingness to canvass urban populations and spark discussion among them on productive and interesting uses of the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network, a private lobby group may be started to ensure this information is uncovered and initiatives begun.
Attendees at a TUANZ function addressed by Welsh consultant Tim Williams were encouraged by his insistence that potential users of broadband networks be consulted on the practical uses of broadband, and encouraged to discuss ideas among themselves.
Some were worried by a statement from a Ministry of Economic Development official at a conference last month that it is the role of private industry, not the government, to “sell” uses of urban broadband.
In contrast, government is facilitating workshops for rural users to discuss potential uses of the Rural Broadband Initiative’s capabilities.
If the government will not act to help urban populations figure out productive and life-enhancing uses of broadband, says Lawrence Zwimpfer of the 2020 Communications Trust, then the community may have to take the task into its own hands through some formal or semi-formal body.
The TUANZ function was organised to present a 75-page report by Sydney-based Williams called ‘Connecting Communities’. It recounts his evaluation of the UK experience of implementing strategies for community use of broadband.
Williams’ report is sponsored by telecoms company Huawei.
At the event former TUANZ chairman Chris O’Connell pointed to a report of an address by Ministry of Economic Development ICT specialist Brad Ward, at the Korean-Australian-NZ broadband summit last month in Hobart, Tasmania.
Ward was reported as saying that apart from major parts of government endeavour such as health and education, it is “up to fibre service providers and ISPs to get out there and sell [uses for fibre capacity].”
Ward told Computerworld his comments were not meant as negatively as they appeared in the report, but was unable to provide any notes more detailed than a series of slides. He emphasises government will facilitate decisions on how to use broadband in areas such as health and education, where it has a direct interest.
Asked whether it was appropriate for government to steer discussion on broadband use in other areas, Ward declined to comment.
When it comes to the Rural Broadband Initiative, however, government agents will coordinate several user workshops in the next few weeks and set up an online portal to involve communities in planning for broadband use.
See also Beyond the UFB building phase