Wireless report positive but dated

The release of an NZTE report on New Zealand's mobile and fixed wireless sector heralds the start of an online IT and communications industry directory.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is to set up a continually updated resource of New Zealand’s wireless expertise as part of a more general online IT and communications industry directory.

This follows the delayed publication this week of an analysis of the country’s mobile and fixed wireless sector -- a paper report which its authors acknowledge can be no more than a “snapshot” of the industry and which is already outdated.

NZTE ICT specialist John Houlker called "No Wires, No Limits" “a rapidly solidifying report that will become stale”. NZTE is planning an email campaign to enable the first update.

The report, developed with the help of MediaLab South Pacific and presented in draft form earlier this year, showed constraints and optimistic factors to the New Zealand wireless industry. Of the companies surveyed, 52% said cash was a problem, along with access to capital, access to markets and a limited ability to protect their intellectual property internationally.

A lack of consistency in standards is seen as slowing adoption of solutions in key areas like mobile payment. Others pointed out, however, that in an industry still technologically in flux, there are opportunities to become expert in the upcoming technologies and create a short-lived but lucrative business in assisting user organisations with change management.

Mobile is still seen, in both consumer and business markets, as “discretionary” spending.

Optimistically, New Zealand is in an excellent position as a “testbed nation”, says the report. This, says report author Scott Wattie of the Wireless Data Forum, is particularly so in usability studies.

Overseas companies could collaborate with local innovators, enriching the locals’ experience and offering international outlets.

Wireless use in New Zealand is leaping ahead, with the assistance of central and local governments in the Probe initiative and the extension of wireless coverage along Welllington’s Lambton Quay.

The report’s co-author, Carmen Gray, of consultancy Innovation & Systems says much opportunity lies in peer-to-peer type wireless applications such as road transport and maritime areas, not in the superficially “sexy” areas like SMS and GPRS. The drawback with the latter, she says, is that any innovations need a “publisher” in the form of a telco with the infrastucture to run them. Peer-to-peer applications are not reliant on such third parties.

The Wireless Data Forum, an avenue for intra-industry co-operation but also an organisation of technology generators, intends to move toward the founding of an additional body that will concentrate on the commercialisation of the technology and the location of suitable markets.

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