Friday Fry Up: Broadband for all; Online sales acceleration; Most .nz domains ever; Multicloud momentum

Friday Fry Up is Computerworld New Zealand’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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Broadband for all, wherever they may be

We all need broadband right? Whether you choose to live in an urban apartment or a rural farm. But often what is standing in the way of making the ideal the actual is regulation and investment—as demonstrated this week.

There is good news for city dwellers wanting a fibre connection in the form of the new Residential Tenancies Amendment Act. By law, landlords now may not refuse tenants the right to a fibre installation, as long as that installation is free.

In case tech media hadn’t read the new act, Chorus sent out a release noting the changes, adding that 76% of fibre installations can now be completed in a one visit. The company has to date connected more than 800,000 households to its fibre network.

But the news is not so rosy for the rural dwellers, where fixed wireless—not fibre—is the more common broadband flavour.

This week, the Technology Users Association (TUANZ) released a communiqué from its rural broadband event (which took place in September 2020). Chorus is the main sponsor of the TUANZ event, but the company is shut out of the government-funded Rural Broadband Initiative, which is being undertaken by the three mobile network owners (Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees) and a handful of local wireless providers.

TUANZ wants to “reset the dialogue around improving rural connectivity” and has put up a five-point action plan, of which the first item is—unsurprisingly perhaps—a 10-year ‘strategic multilateral plan’. The other four actions are:

  • A goal to ensure that that rural connectivity is at least equivalent to urban.
  • A new funding model to “ensure continued investment in network capacity, capability and offering enhancements such as free installs of customer premise equipment, as is the case with Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB)”.
  • A publicly available national connectivity register.
  • A publicity campaign to raise user awareness.

While there are many social and economic arguments to support better connectivity in rural areas, the key issue is likely to remain the incentive (or lack of) for private investment. As the Commerce Commission recently noted in its latest advice on the (endless?) process to determine a new wholesale fibre pricing model:

Rural areas: these tend to be high-cost areas. The combination of low prices relative to costs in these areas does not encourage potential competitors to enter and challenge the incumbent with different/innovative services that end-users in these areas may find valuable.

Online sales acceleration

One thing people with broadband connections are doing more of is online shopping, with Briscoes the latest major retailer to report a jump in online sales. In an announcement to the NZX this week, it noted that while overall sales increased by 18.3% in the fourth quarter compared to the same time last year, online sales increased by 58.1%.

CEO Rod Duke commented: “Our online business continues to produce excellent sales growth, finishing the year 79.7% up on the previous year and representing just under 19% of total group sales.”

A sign perhaps that the acceleration of e-commerce due to COVID-19 pandemic is becoming entrenched.

More .nz domains than ever

Data from Internet NZ, which manages the .nz domain, shows that at end of January 2021 there were 723,939 .nz registered domains—the most ever.

nz domain registrations 2013-2022 InternetNZ

The growth of .nz domains.

Commercial director David Morrison says there were more domain name registrations than expected between April and July 2020—when lockdown restrictions were in play. “We believe this growth was fuelled by businesses rapidly pivoting to take their operations online. We have also seen numerous service providers increase their efforts to educate and tailor digital services to small to medium businesses, and this may also be a contributing factor,” he says.

Multicloud approach gathers momentum

The announcement this week that BNZ would be signing up to Microsoft’s New Zealand data centre region was no surprise given that Russell Jones, BNZ’s general manager of technology and operations, told CIO New Zealand in August 2020 the move was on its tech roadmap. Jones says the bank has seven data centres in New Zealand and is looking to reduce that number to two in a multicloud deployment with Microsoft and Amazon Web Services as its main partners.

The multicloud approach is endorsed by Matt van Deventer, who was recently promoted to general manager for technology and delivery at Trustpower. The electricity and telecommunications provider has just deployed Amazon Connect for its contact centre. Along with AWS, Trustpower also works with Google Cloud Platform, but the vast majority of its cloud deployment (95%) is with Microsoft Azure.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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