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Telecom lay-offs prompt TUANZ to call for national digital architecture

TUANZ CEO Paul Brislen urges government to create plan for the ICT industry

The Telecommunications Users Association is calling on the government to create a national digital architecture, in light of the massive job losses predicted to occur at Telecom in the coming months.

In a blog post, CEO Paul Brislen says that the ICT industry is a rising star, but that more needs to be done than just “pay lip service to it.” He points out that constant changes to the Telecommunications Act, including the upcoming review of telco regulation, create “uncertainty and confusion”.

He says the plan would need to consider where the technology industry will be in 20 years, and believes it could rival the dairy sector as the number one export earner for New Zealand.

Here is the TUANZ blog post:

"Telecom is laying off a large percentage of its workforce and as awful as that is for those involved; the company needs to do this to become competitive in the marketplace.

"We have the government investing over a billion dollars in the fibre network and a couple of hundred million in rural broadband, matched and exceeded by the industry's own spend in the area, yet we don't have any way of articulating just what that will do to the economy of New Zealand as a whole.

"We have research which suggests that ICT will overtake tourism in terms of share of the GDP in the near future, yet we're also told that only 30 percent of businesses have a website and a large percentage of business owners don't see the benefits of digitising their companies.

"We have some schools making tremendous use of technology in classrooms and other schools where parents lobby to ensure they don't have to buy iPads for their kids.

"We have politicians who still don't understand the basics of how the internet works and who treat it as some kind of bargaining chip in negotiations with the US over trade access when ICT could become as large and as important to the New Zealand economy as dairying or dead animals.

"If New Zealand is to take its place in the global digital economy we need to consider the ICT industry, the investment in infrastructure and in education and how we tie it all together, otherwise we will struggle to keep our heads up. We need to pull in the same direction and that takes coordination, it takes a strategy. It calls for a plan.

"In 2008 TUANZ called for a national digital architecture to be formed, providing some kind of cohesion and coordination for the country as a whole and the time has come to revisit the issue. We need a plan to ensure we take advantage of the skills and experience we have, to invest in the areas that will provide a return and will provide growth in the economy. ICT is clearly the rising star, but we have to do more than pay lip service to it."

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