Wider broadband connections could boost economy – report

Internet cables

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Photo: 123RF

Providing more homes with internet connectivity could add as much as $700 million a year to the economy, a report says.

A report by NERA economic consulting commissioned by Spark Foundation indicated more than 130,000 households do not have broadband, with not-for-profit broadband services experiencing increasing demand for service as the cost-of-living increases.

The report estimated the annual benefit of connecting these homes to the internet was in a range of $3559 to $5652 per year, with a national economic benefit in a range of $464 to $737m.

“As more New Zealanders feel the pressure of the increased cost-of-living, an at-home broadband connection becomes a luxury item that some families need to forego in place of food, power, and transport,” foundation lead Kate Thomas said.

“But with so many essential services now available online, the simple fact is that digital exclusion is holding many New Zealanders back – particularly our most vulnerable communities.

“Whether that is being able to search and apply for jobs, utilise digital technology for employment, work or study from home, or access essential services like healthcare, education, and banking.”

Digital Equity Coalition Aotearoa co-chair Vic MacLennan said a collaborative cross-sector approach between the government, community groups and the private sector was necessary to address the digital divide.

“The government has recognised digital equity as a core component of its digital strategy for Aotearoa, but what this data shows is that we can’t afford to wait another day.”


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