Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One week later

A week ago this morning, our old Internet/phone provider was switched off and the new one was switched on. Well, the phone was, at least: We’re still waiting for the Internet to be connected.

We were told that, as we thought, there’s a problem at the exchange. What we were not told is why it took them a week to work that out and attempt a repair (which, supposedly, they’ll do tomorrow).

Many companies have similar issues (we faced them when we switched to the company we’ve now left). But it seems to me that if the government—of either party—is truly committed to a broadband-enabled future for New Zealand, as both National and Labour claim to be, then they have got to get this nonsense sorted out. What good will it do to have an “ultrafast broadband network” if customers can’t connect to it?

Given the National Party’s almost visceral resistance to the use of regulation to achieve stated goals and priorities, I have little to no confidence that they can—or, more accurately, that they will—do anything to fix this major obstacle to the nation moving forward.

Personally, I think the problem is that it’s easy for the government of the day to hold fancy press conferences where they announce some new initiative related to building that fabled “ultrafast broadband network” they keep promising us (without actually building it), but no one (least of all, politicians) wants to attend a fancy function about dealing with the basics: Solving the problems on individual streets and at individual exchanges.

Whether government ultimately solves the problems at the local level will ultimately determine whether the “ultrafast broadband network”, if it’s ever built, actually delivers benefits for New Zealanders and the country as a whole. Is either party up to the challenge? Frankly, I’ve seen no evidence that they are.

So this situation, as annoying as it is for us, is even worse because of what it implies about New Zealand’s ability to participate in the global economy of the future. New Zealand’s politicians simply must do better—and so must the country’s Internet providers. At this rate, it might happen sometime next century.

I wonder if we’ll have Internet by then…

Update 24/03/11: Our Internet connection was finally restored this evening.

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