New Zealand has one of the highest rates of investment in telecommunications in the OECD, but there is always more to do as products and services continue to rapidly digitise across the economy. We welcome the opportunity to discuss local government’s role in future deployment.
Telecommunications is rightly seen as an essential service and New Zealander's have come to depend more and more on our digital infrastructure and services to keep families connected, businesses up and running and to keep the economy working. During the COVID lockdowns we learned the value of being able to work and study remotely – without a robust digital infrastructure life during lockdown would have been vastly more complicated.
Today we work closely with teams both within council and also among council-owned infrastructure partners to plan for and deploy our infrastructure. This is an area the Mayor and the new council could indeed help as new development sites, new subdivisions and the like are brought on line. It’s vital that digital infrastructure is treated as a priority alongside other forms of infrastructure and we would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with the new council.
By the end of this calendar year, New Zealand’s mobile network operators will provide coverage to 99.8% of the population. Of course, mobile devices mean people move around and expect the same level of connectivity whether they’re in a Ponsonby cafe or the Waitakere Ranges or at home. Funding network deployment where there are very few residents or which are remote but popular with tourists, for example, requires a co-investment model between public and private sector.
The much-needed reform of the Resource Management Act raises the issue of delays to consents. While the new regulatory environment is being introduced it’s vital we have certainty around the rules and process for deploying network assets, because maintaining an ongoing programme of work is essential for our mobile network operators. Any delay at the planning or building stage translates into increased customer frustration in the future.
We look forward to engaging with His Worship the Mayor and the new council in the very near future.