Of the three issues covered so far, the ICT policy standings are now Labour and Greens (2/3), Internet Party (1/3) and National (0/3)
This is the third article in a series comparing the present broadband revolution to the Industrial Revolution and exploring the lessons that, if applied today, would avoid repeating past mistakes.

Those lessons have so far covered the need for regulations around anonymity in on-line publishing, the protection of personal privacy and data confidentiality.  All the major parties except National, have policy positions to build such protections in to legislation.

Another lesson learned is the need for leadership to independently advise government on a way through the mire created by revolutions, and so avoid repeating mistakes of the past.

For example, the broadband revolution created a divide between those in power and the new working class. Whilst we will not likely see a return to slave labour conditions of the Industrial Revolution, the new revolution is creating a new divide between the ultrafast broadband haves and have nots.

The Haves will be able to use their ultrafast broadband to access high quality education and health services.  They will download multiple 4K super HD videos at the same time as someone else is playing an on-line game and little Johnny is doing his research homework.  They will be able to reliably participate in government initiatives like completing tax returns on-line without the frustrations of time outs and having to log in again and again.

In contrast, the Have-nots will take longer to do their homework because data feeds take longer to find and download.  And Have-nots will still have to travel to a health centre for their medical scans.  They will have to forget watching super HD videos at all, and learn to be satisfied with stuttering HD video feeds that can only be watched late at night when little Johnny has completed his homework.  And each year, they will need to apply for a dispensation for being late with their tax return because the once-a-week mail deliveries and collections means their tax filings are late.

vote2014In the coming general election, are the policies of the main parties addressing that digital divide?  There can be only one solution: identical services for rural and urban people.

The Internet Party is the only one to promise to deliver ‘ultra fast broadband’ – that is fibre cable – to 97.8% of the population.  With the exception of the balance of around 100,000 people in remote rural areas, the promise is to provide the same ultrafast broadband speeds in rural areas as well as urban ones and so closing the urban/rural digital divide.

The National Party, through their UFB and RBI programs, are delivering ‘faster’ broadband to that same percentage of the population but specifically have excluded fibre to rural areas as a part of the policy.  The difference in broadband speeds for urban people, 20 times faster than the 5 Mbps of rural broadband, is already defining the digital divide.

Labour promise to close the digital divide by improving access to broadband in the regions and in low-income communities.  However, they are non-specific as to how that promise would be achieved.

The Green Party list as a ‘Key Principle’, that the benefits of ICT be shared among everyone.  They too, are non-specific about what they would actually do to achieve equity.

Of the three issues covered so far, the ICT policy standings are now Labour and Greens (2/3), Internet Party (1/3) and National (0/3).