Digital Future Summit Update

Has been an interesting day and a half so far at the Digital Future Summit.

David Cunliffe gave an excellent speech to the Summit – most agree it was a highlight. It was good on both presentation and content.

For the first time the Government said the future is fibre to the home. Yay. He also spoke of being interested in alternative ideas for meeting the country’s investment requirements, which is promising. He advocated two targets for fibre to the node:

  1. Towns with greater than 10,000 residents (representing approximately 76% of telephone lines) will have access to broadband at speeds of at least 20Mbps
  2. 90% of New Zealand’s lines will have access to broadband at speeds of at least 10 mbps

Cunliffe also touched on the issue of the high prices of international bandwidth, and the need for more overseas pipes.

Russell Brown also thought it was a good speech, and he interviewed me for Public Address Radio on the Summit.

Some other points made by speakers:

  • It used to be anti social for a kid to be in their room alone, now it is considered anti social to be away from your computer for too long
  • The “word of mouse” is replacing the “word of mouth”
  • David Skilling made the point that while many reasons for increased broadband are social, there is also a strong economic argument for NZ to have better broadband or keep losing people off shore.
  • Maurice Williamson had an excellent suggestion that all government agencies should be directed to make land and resources available for fibre and to facilitate consent. Transit should be required to place pipes with roads. Maybe make compulsory for new subdivisions fibre to the home, along with sewerage, power and phone.
  • Someone said that having fibre to the node, instead of to the home, is like having a motorway to your suburb and then a dirt track to your house 3 kms away. And Telecom’s plan is only to reduce the dirt track to 2 kms – is that much to cheer about?
  • A very funny moment as Rod Oram was explaing to an overseas video linkup why so many people in the audience have moustaches this month. His exact words were “Men, well mostly men, grow moustaches s for November”
  • Sam Morgan was very good, and divided people into those born before 1967 and after 1967.  I was born in 1967 but identified with the after 67 crowd as he described them as those who use Wikipedia, Bit Torrent, Technorati and Facebook rather than pre 67s who use Amazon, Stuff and the Herald.
  • Andy Lark spoke about how 1 in 8 US adults getting married met online, and how Myspace by population is the 11th largest country in the world.

Pete Hodgson also spoke yesterday, and he was absolutely terrible.  He shuffled everywhere and was not particularly coherent.  Most people thought he might be sick. Seriously he was that bad.

Cullen spoke this morning.  I missed that as I’m sick myself (have a cold) so was late getting here.  But people said he did well as expected, filling in for Helen.

The best Minister today was Trevor Mallard.  Trevor spoke on broadcasting and especially digital broadcasting and knew his stuff quite well.  He also used humor very effectively referring to his front bench demotion.  Mallard also announced that TVNZ will stop analog broadcasts in either 2012 or when 75% of viewers have gone digital.

Bernard Hickey from Fairfax gave an excellent presentation on how Fairfax is coping in the digital age.  I’ll actually do a separate post on it, once I can get hold of a copy of the presentation.

The only real downside was this morning when they tried to do some sort of consultation process, by way of people at each table voting on answers to some questions on ICT.  But it was a fiasco as an obviously transparent attempt to claim consultation has been done on the outcomes.  Imagine 400 very intelligent peeved off people using the online feedback channels to exclaim that they reject the premise of the questions let alone the five multi-choice answers which were all wrong.  True consultation is not a multi-choice response to some pre-selected questions.

Overall has been very worthwhile so far, and it’s good to be able to attend.  The quality of speakers has generally been first class.

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