I’m no cheerleader, just want some perspective

Over the last few days I’ve shown how wrong Kim Dotcom is when he says New Zealand has third world internet.

You can read the facts for yourself:

While I support Dotcom’s freedom to express his views, I’m concerned about the effect his words may have.

Dotcom has an international profile. The international news media pick up his words, often without context.

So people outside New Zealand get a distorted, unbalanced view of our technology and out economy.

Some of them may be considering buying technology from New Zealand companies, others may be thinking of investing. If the only internationally distributed technology story they see about New Zealand is Dotcom’s comments, then they are going to get a wrong impression.

I’m certainly not a cheerleader for New Zealand or our national telecommunications infrastructure – there are plenty of things I’d like fixed – but perspective and context are everything. If you’re reading this from overseas, there’s a good chance New Zealand’s broadband and technology infrastructure is in better shape than where you are.

New Zealand moves up tech development index

ITU rankings


New Zealand has moved two places up the ITU global technology rankings to 16. That puts New Zealand one place ahead of the USA and in front of France, Germany and Canada.

The news comes just days after Kim Dotcom described New Zealand’s internet as ‘third world’.

The ITU table measures the relative uptake of information and communications technology comparing nations. The report Measuring the Information Society 2012, shows Korea is the world’s most advanced technology economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. Australia is at 11.

The index ranks 155 countries according to their level of access, use and skills. It  compares 2010 and 2011 scores.

There’s a huge gap between the world’s richest economies – roughly the top 30 in the ITU list – and the developing world. At the bottom of the list are the so called least connected countries, all are in Africa.

The huge gulf between developed and developing nations in the Asia-Pacific  region - click to enlarge

The huge gulf between developed and developing nations in the Asia-Pacific region – click to enlarge

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In praise of Wiki New Zealand

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 7.55.16 PMHats off to the team behind Wiki New Zealand, an exciting project to make data about our country accessible and understandable. The site is packed with graphs, charts and maps, all of them clean and clear.

It’s already a fabulous resource. No doubt schools can make great use of it. And as a journalist I’ll be checking facts there.

Wiki’s were a big deal five or six years ago. They are a great way to share data, particularly when people collaborate. Since their peak, wikis have fallen out of favour, mainly because many people find them difficult to use.

The good news is the Wiki New Zealand team seem ready to do all the hard work, so if you want to contribute, it’s a matter of handing over raw information and not knocking it into shape.



Google’s NZ digital expert plan, not what it seems

Google NZ scored favourable publicity for its 'training plan' but it isn't philanthropy

Google NZ scored favourable publicity for its ‘training plan’ but it isn’t philanthropy

Hats off to Tony Keusgen and Google New Zealand for training recent graduates in the art of helping companies with online strategies. It may help ease smaller businesses into the online world ahead of the UltraFast Broadband roll-out.

Keusgen announced the plan to train 100 people at the recent Telecommunication Carriers Forum Mind Storm conference in Auckland.

He told delegates at the event the UFB network on its own will not get local companies moving online – partly because there aren’t enough people with the right skills serving smaller companies. He has a point.

The plan isn’t what it seems to be.

Google’s two-day training course will give people Google+ certification. Click through to the course details and you’ll see it is about selling the company’s AdWords product.

In other words, it is not general training in online strategies, but training in using Google products and services to offer those online strategies. In other words it will bind 100 young people into Google’s world and by extension will make it easier for Google to sell to the thousands of companies they will consult to.

There’s nothing wrong in this. Nothing at all. Technology companies provide training to help customers and others buy things from them all the time. The products and services are complex. Sales people can’t whizz through these things in five minutes.

While there’s nothing wrong with it, it is not philanthropy. It is business development.

Yet that’s not how Google sold itsmessage to the Mind Storm audience and it is not how the media reported it. See The New Zealand Herald and at Radio New Zealand.

Can Dotcom kickstart NZ tech?

Guess which silhouette is Kim Dotcom

Guess which silhouette is Kim Dotcom

Management magazine wonders if Kim Dotcom’s Auckland-based Mega start-up can transform  New Zealand’s economy:

Behind Dotcom’s showman public persona – a flamboyant style that undoubtedly grates with Kiwi conservatism – there’s a very smart, very tight business unit with the ability to go from world-class concept development to start-up, and massive scale-up very fast.

Mega is impressive. It has a core team of just four people and by Kim Dotcom’s estimate accounts for around 4% of internet traffic. There’s probably some hype in that number. Even so, an NZ-based business accounting for 1% of traffic would be a huge achievement.

New Zealand is too remote and has too few cable connections to the rest of the world to become an international online destination. But that’s not the only way to make money from the internet.

Dotcom has already breathed fire into the NZ technology sector. He will inspire others to follow in his path. Hopefully a cluster of local companies will form to piggyback off Mega’s products and services and possibly use his name and reputation to help raise investment funds – New Zealanders have difficulty raising start-up finance.

Disclosure: I’ve written a feature about Big Data for Management and will be contributing stories to the magazine.

Vodafone LTE fibre killer in New Zealand?

When fibre comes down my streetFour days ago I wrote that the best broadband I’m likely to see for the next five or six years will be wireless. If independent consultant Jon Brewer is right, that could come in the shape of a Vodafone-owned network of picocells connected to the company’s own back-haul network.

Brewer says Vodafone has the technology and the spectrum needed to roll out a network much faster and cheaper than the UFB network being built by Chorus. It will offer UFB-like speeds. Brewer doesn’t say so, but the economics he outlines suggest Vodafone would be able to boost data caps.

Until now the arguments against wireless networks have been to do with spectrum scarcity and the high cost of network equipment along with the expensive of getting resource consents. Picocell technology does an end-run around these. 

Where consumers have a choice between fixed and mobile networks, they tend to choose mobile leaving fixed-line for things like bulk downloading of media content.

While Brewer’s post is speculative, there are some sharp minds at Vodafone who must have at least considered this approach. It will probably run into regulatory hurdles – New Zealand’s centre-right government is not keen on letting market competition make decisions about future telecommunications.

Nevertheless, for me this is a far more exciting prospect than waiting for a glass fibre to be strung down my road.

LTE as Fibre Killer? Vodafone’s Quick Win for Fixed Mobile Substitution « Inside Telecommunications New Zealand.