New Zealand affordable broadband

A short report from Jon Brewer at Telco2 provides some much-needed perspective on whether New Zealand has affordable broadband.

The ITU-UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development worries that broadband is unaffordable when the cost of a service is more than five percent of household income. Brewer measures how New Zealand stacks up against this benchmark. Our story is largely positive.

Brewer compares the price of broadband services available in New Zealand with the average household incomes of people able to buy those services. He found fibre, ADSL and the Rural Broadband Initiative wireless services all qualify as affordable. Satellite broadband generally does not.

By the ITU’s measure, 98% of New Zealanders enjoy access to affordable broadband. Households covered by the Rural Broadband Initiative have affordable broadband, but must spend twice as much of their household income on it as households on ADSL or Fibre.

As for the two percent of the population that don’t have affordable broadband access, the question is what can New Zealand do to fix the problem. Are we happy to leave these people off the map or should the government subsidise an alternative to expensive satellite broadband?