1: 1999 in review - January

A summary of the year's big stories: January 1999

Y2K compliance loomed large over 1999 and many companies seized the opportunity/challenge to upgrade their systems and then locked down. As a result not a lot was done in terms of cutting edge implementation. Some industry commentators blame Y2K compliance for getting in the way of e-commerce in New Zealand. According to a report from TUANZ, the consensus is that New Zealand is lagging behind the rest of the world in e-commerce adoption. High profile business-to-consumer launches during the year such as CDNow and Flying Pig grabbed attention but e-commerce sites such as Axon Computertime and Renaissance, which are still among the best examples of business-to-business e-commerce, are a couple of years old. At least the government realised there is thing out there called IT. Both the Labour party (then in opposition) and National acknowledged the role of e-commerce and IT in creating economic wealth. Work on the legislative overhauls needed to ensure e-commerce transactions have legal protection continued throughout the year. Hopefully next year will see e-business take off in this country. In the meantime, 1999 went something like this:

January 1999
  • The telephone numbering agreement brokered in December splits the industry with Clear, Saturn, WorldXChange, Compass and Global One refusing to sign. The agreement involves Telecom ceding control of numbering to an independent administrator to provide a path towards full number portability. Vodafone and Telstra sign.
  • The government announces it will auction 2GHz radio spectrum for personal communications services in March.
  • Microsoft wins a licence to supply 128-bit encryption products to New Zealand government agencies. Export of 128-bit encryption has been restricted to financial institutions.
  • A survey by BP New Zealand indicates 20% of its customers have not started a year 2000 project and a further 47% feel Y2K doesn’t apply to them. The survey of nearly 4500 companies is one of the largest undertaken in the country.
  • Christchurch research company IndraNet says more than 1000 people have requested prospectuses for its share float, which closes in June. IndraNet wants funding for research into high speed communications technology.
  • In the first major move since its inception in August 1998, the Y2K Readiness Commission launches its first awareness campaign sending 300,000 information packs to businesses.

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