Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

NZ 'not ready for fast broadband'

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A report claims Kiwis are getting more out of technology but the New Zealand Institute says ultra-fast broadband will be wasted on entertainment if there is not a drastic change in use.

In a study from the World Economic Forum, New Zealand was placed 18th of 138 countries in its readiness and capacity to use technology to boost the country's economic competitiveness and improve the lives of citizens.

This was one place up from last year and one place below Australia, which slipped from 16th to 17th.

However, the New Zealand Institute's director Rick Boven said there needed to be an evolution in how society uses technology if the benefits of upgraded infrastructure were to be realised.

"The area where the game will move to and I don't see us as being ready for it yet, is integrating [technology] into all we do in Government policy and in society," he said.

"I wonder if we're really thinking through how [telecommunication] policies might change the face of our transport system or our cities? How will the use of this in health change the economics of health? How will it change education delivery?" he asked.

Boven said these sectors could be doing far more to take advantage of current technology and infrastructure and they should not wait for high speed internet to change the way they operate.

"We run the risk of spending a lot of money to provide very high quality entertainment," he said.

Boven still stressed the importance of improving infrastructure as there was an important link between developing and fostering networks and a high-performance economy.

The Government's ultra-fast broadband aims to achieve this and hopes to offer internet speeds of 100 megabits per second to 75 per cent of the country over the next 10 years.

According to the Global Information Technology report, both New Zealand businesses and households are becoming more willing to use and benefit from technology.

Boven said there were positive moves towards greater technological innovation in business but questioned whether companies will "walk the walk".

"Businesses are certainly lagging behind, but we've observed that for a long time," he said.

The World Economic Forum study used a "network readiness" index to rank countries against each other.

This index factored how ready and inclined individuals, governments and businesses were to adopt and take advantage of technology.

It also considered how the regulatory and market environment facilitated the use of technology and the quality of infrastructure, such as internet networks.

Nordic countries outperformed in the effective use of technology, with Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway all placing in the top 10.

Asian countries also made a strong showing, with Singapore ranked 2nd, China/Taiwan up five places to 6th, Korea at 10 and Hong Kong at 12.

New Zealand's ranking for its actual use of technology rose from 24th to 18th out of the 138 countries.

New Zealand's regulatory environment was ranked third, its market environment 16th, and its infrastructure 19th.

- NZ Herald

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