Aussies eat NZ broadband dust

One of the great New Zealand obsessions is "catching up with Australia". We even have a government 2025 Taskforce aimed at coming up with economic policies to reduce this gap.

One of the great New Zealand obsessions is "catching up with Australia". We even have a government 2025 Taskforce aimed at coming up with economic policies to reduce this gap.

Yes, we are Australia's poor cousins, poorer than Tasmania, but recently there was something we beat Australia at, something more important than rugby!

Content distribution network Akamai produced a quarterly report showing New Zealand had the 40th fastest internet in the world, with speeds around 3Mbps. Australia came 58th with speeds around 2.1Mbps.

The thrashing looks set to continue, if not get greater!

While our government pushes ahead with our Ultra-Fast Broadband projects, I see Australia's much larger NBN project mired in controversy.

Here, our opposition supports our scheme, in Australia I see your Liberals might scrap it. And now I read of various "challenges" slowing your NBN project down.

New Zealand is pushing ahead with its Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative, with companies eager to climb aboard. The project with a six-year time frame (though some suppliers want to deliver in three) compares favourably with your government's eight-year timetable.

Furthermore, New Zealand is now reaping the benefits of previous telco investment. Mobile voice and data charges have dropped so low that the growing number of registered mobile users now exceed our population, while landline accounts remain flat in number.

A year or two back, I heard of people going all-mobile in Australia thanks to the various pre-prepay monthly packages from Telstra and co. Well, it seems to be happening here too and I have also joined that mobile-only trend for the time being using just a mobile stick and mobile phone.

This week, Statistics New Zealand reported only a quarter of Kiwi homes now have no internet, down from 35 per cent in 2006, though more are using things like Skype and video calling.

While this might suggest little scope for expansion in the broadband market, New Zealand could extend its lead in future Akamai surveys.

Government-mandated roll-outs of fibre-to-the-node will give 80 per cent of New Zealanders access to broadband with speeds in excess of 10Mbps by the end of next year. By then, our the government's Ultra-Fast Broadband plan, with speeds of 100Mbps, should also start coming to fruition.

And that is before we even consider the slowing effects of Australia's planned internet filter!