Economic and regional development minister Jim Anderton says lack of broadband internet access is holding back the regions.
Anderton, a speaker at the TUANZ conference aimed at coming up with a series of applications for high-speed internet, says the government’s Probe project will provide broadband to most regions within a year, and the whole country by 2004.
Several of the companies vying for Probe business – including Telecom, BCL, Vodafone and Walker Wireless – are co-sponsors, with the Ministry of Economic Development, of the two-and-a-half-day Nelson event, which comes to a close today. Those companies will have to wait until the end of the year to learn whether they’ve been successful bidders.
Anderton says the same cleverness which earned Nelson-born Lord Rutherford a Nobel prize needs to be employed to come up with broadband applications.
“We have to set a target for more Rutherfords,” says Anderton. “We want to take applications from New Zealand to the world; the potential, as you know, is immense.”
Anderton says he was impressed by the enthusiasm of conference attendees as they set about the mission of thinking up applications, saying their efforts would help New Zealand climb back up the OECD’s national prosperity rankings.
“I’d like to assure you the government will work closely with your industry to find out ways to unleash the creativity of New Zealanders.”
Despite the broadband starvation being suffered in the regions, he says 10 out of 14 are managing to grow at more than 4% a year.