Internet numbers still trail Australia

By Jenny Keown

New Zealand continues to languish in the world broadband rankings - defying Telecom chief executive Theresa Gattung's prediction the country would surpass Australia in broadband uptake without telecommunications reform.

New Zealand has remained at 22nd place out of 30 countries, well behind Australia's ranking of 17th place, according to figures from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Australia increased broadband connections from 13.8 to 17.4 per hundred, making it one of the biggest movers in the last year.

New Zealand had 11.7 high-speed internet connections per hundred residents at the end of June, up from 8.1 in December 2005.

Two years ago Gattung said in a letter to the Government that if Telecom achieved its broadband targets it would "considerably lift its [New Zealand] stakes in the international table, probably passing Australia".

She said this to back up her argument that the Government did not need to open Telecom's network to competitors - called unbundling the local loop.

The country's low OECD ranking was one of the reasons the Government announced in May it would break open Telecom's monopoly on its lines to achieve better and cheaper internet services.

Telecom spokesman John Goulter would not comment on Gattung's forecast but said broadband was "gaining real momentum worldwide".

Telecom had increased broadband uptake by 44 per cent over the past year and other countries also had big increases, he said.

Telecommunications User Association of New Zealand chief executive Ernie Newman said the organisation was disappointed but not surprised.

"It just shows the urgent need for the Government to get the new policy settings in place for the Telecommunications Bill so we can have a competition driven market, instead of one that is constrained by a monopoly," he said.

Broadband uptake in NZ

* Still ranks 22 out of 30 OECD countries.

* 11.7 broadband connections per hundred people, up from 8.1 per cent last year.

* Australia has 17.4 per hundred, up from 13.8.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 26 Jul 2014 02:10:20 Processing Time: 282ms