Lack of knowledge in some regions could defeat the purpose of the Government’s Probe regional broadband project, says Simpl group business consulting director Graeme Emerson.
Businesses, local authorities, schools, healthcare providers and other groups in all the regions need to get up to speed with Probe, he says.
He says at presentations he has given “a lot of business people still know nothing about it — the government hasn’t put much into marketing it”. Simpl has consulted regional and local councils on their broadband options.
Emerson has been taking his message to the country since the government announced tens of millions of dollars in funding for regional broadband in the budget in May. “Every region and community needs to be up to speed. If it’s going to work, businesses have to pick it up because they create jobs.”
Those who will be the end-users of the technology need to be well organised by the time it is up and running, he says. “They can’t be thinking ‘now that it’s rolled out, what do we do?’ New Zealand can’t afford to put all that money into this initiative and not have it effective from day one.”
In regions such as Northland and Southland, where broadband pilots were underway before the budget announcement, the understanding is far ahead of areas that didn’t have pilots, Emerson says.
The tender process got off to a slightly strange start with no responses to the original request for information received, so an extension was announced.
Emerson believes that is due to the speed and sheer size of the proposal. “It’s a complex project,” he notes.
“To wire up all those schools and then make broadband available to other groups is a lot different to, say, installing a payroll system. People haven’t grasped the complexity of the process.”