Free broadband for all, says XSol chief

"Vendors will have to deliver web-hosted applications or die"

Although it’s still early days for web-hosted applications there will definitely be a move towards them, says John Blackham, XSol chief executive.

“If web-based applications were available from, for example Google, for free, who would buy anything else?” he asks.

From a user perspective, web-hosted applications will be available anywhere and on any device in the near future, and be both easy to use and potentially free, he says. In turn, this will mean no distribution costs and no manufacturing or storage costs for vendors.

“Vendors will have to deliver web-hosted applications or die,” Blackham says.

In the new web-based world Blackham predicts will come about there will be display units everywhere, which our wireless personal identification devices will be able to connect to.

Ubiquitous computing would enable a higher level of process integration, which would power up productivity and dramatically decrease production time, he says.

“But without high-speed broadband we can’t play at all,” says Blackham. “Broadband underpins the future of economic growth.”

Currently, we have a broadband dilemma, he says. “Unfortunately, we are in the hands of a monopoly. Telecom has no future but to extract cash for its shareholders.”

So, how should the issue be addressed? By making broadband a “no-brainer for the economy”, says Blackham. Broadband should be made the core of New Zealand’s productivity strategy and be in the hands of the Ministry of Economic Development, he says.

“The situation has got to change. As a nation we are slipping behind more and more every day.”

New Zealand has tried the regulatory model for years now and it doesn’t work, he says.

“I think we need to make the future attractive for Telecom and give them a big market. Have everyone in New Zealand connected — for free. That would boost the economy.”

Free broadband for the people is his “boom scenario”. His “doom scenario” has the government not fixing the broadband problem and, as a consequence, productivity declining and New Zealand falling off the bottom of the OECD list.

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