Broadband remains unaffordable for many, despite government initiatives
Injustice is being done to rural New Zealanders as broadband remains unaffordable for many, despite government initiatives, according to telecommunication researcher Jonathan Brewer.
Mr Brewer has published a report titled Broadband Affordability in New Zealand. We're republishing the accompanying interactive visualisation - showing every household in the country.
The map shows 1.78m addresses using Land Information New Zealand(LINZ) data and combines meshblock-level census data to figure out broadband affordability for a particular household.
Read more about how the map was made and the drawbacks of this kind of data analysis in the report.
The research evaluates how New Zealand fares on the affordability target of broadband costing under five percent of average income by 2015, as set by ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2011.
The findings of the report are largely positive as it shows broadband is affordable for 98 per cent of the households. But rural areas are still at a disadvantage as the Rural Broadband Initiative and Satellite internet remains very expensive.
Surprisingly though, there are urban areas that, despite the availability of broadband, cannot afford to pay for it.
"There are poor urban areas where you can't pay $50 a month for broadband," Mr Brewer said.
If you zoom-in on the above map, you can see the pockets of lower income urban areas such as those in South Auckland and Porirua where internet is unaffordable simply due to poverty. There are pockets of red (showing households paying more than 5 per cent of average income for broadband) in most urban areas.
"Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is not as affordable as ADSL and it is primarily targeted at rural areas where median income is lower for households. It remains an expensive option."
Even though RBI is the lowest-cost broadband available to 88 thousand households, questions have been asked about the uptake.
"Fewer than 7000 people have signed up. Government has been very protective about reporting on the RBI uptake.
"In Northland, areas from Kerikeri to Kaitaia have been covered by RBI. But it's too expensive for the people living in those areas," said Mr Brewer.
The main cause of unaffordability for the 2 per cent of the population is the high price consumers have to pay for satellite broadband.
"Australia has subsidised satellite communication, while the US has more options," Mr Brewer said. "New Zealand has one company that has a monopoly* on satellite communications."
- According to Peter Gent and other readers, NZ now has two companies offering satellite internet: