Conference told Probe sights too low

A conference in Nelson aimed at coming up with applications for high-speed internet has been told the government's Probe broadband project has set its sights too low.

A conference in Nelson aimed at coming up with applications for high-speed internet has been told the government’s Probe broadband project has set its sights too low.

Simon Riley, a member of a group whose goal is to guide New Zealand involvement in development of a “next-generation internet”, told the TUANZ-organised conference yesterday that “the bar needs to be much higher” in terms of project Probe’s internet access speed.

Whereas the government’s regional broadband scheme is intended to provide schools with net access at 512kbit/s, California, for example, is setting out to connect schools at 1Gbit/s, Riley says.

The government is in the process of accepting bids for provision of broadband services in 14 regions, with contracts to be let by the end of the year.

The TUANZ conference, which runs until tomorrow, brings together representatives of 10 sector groups with the mission of dreaming up applications for broadband internet.

Aside from Riley and other members of the next-generation internet group, the opening day of the conference heard from the regional head of network equipment maker Cisco, Gordon Astles, and TelstraClear boss Rosemary Howard.

Astles told the 200-strong audience that broadband is the key to prosperity for businesses and countries.

Howard lamented the fact that while rival Telecom’s DSL-based JetStream service was available to more than 80% of population, just 26,000 residential subscribers were using it.

Dr Stuart Gowland, who established a mobile surgical service, provided a demonstration of broadband applications in medicine. A specialist watching an operation over a video link, for example, could provide guidance to a less experienced surgeon.

Sector groups represented at the conference include government, media, entertainment, education and agriculture.

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