Affordable access

New Zealand’s internet affordability rating is well below other leading ‘network ready’ countries…

New Zealand regularly ranks amongst world leaders in terms of access to broadband internet.  In 2016, the World Economic Forum gave New Zealand a score of 6.8 for network readiness infrastructure, slightly behind Australia, South Korea and the USA, but ahead of Singapore and the UK.  However, in terms of ‘affordability’, New Zealand didn’t fare so well with a score of 4.6, well below these other countries.

Since 2016, the rollout of broadband infrastructure has continued apace in both urban and rural communities with fibre and wireless technologies, so New Zealand can be expected to maintain its leading position.  There has also been progress in making the internet more affordable, with the removal of data caps on some plans and the innovative Skinny Jump pre-pay service for households with broadband due to cost being a barrier.  We have also seen some wireless internet service providers (WISPs) leverage existing fibre infrastructure in schools to provide more affordable connectivity for rural communities.

Yet many families are still missing out.  To understand exactly how many, we need to await the results of the 2018 Census.  But, with a 10% non-respondent rate, and only one question about household internet access, like many other surveys, this is unlikely to give a fully accurate picture of people and communities who do not have affordable access.  A serious under-count is likely, as many of the same factors relating to people who didn’t respond to the ‘online by default’ census tend to apply to those without affordable access.

The Digital Inclusion Alliance helps internet affordability by supporting and managing the Spark Foundation’s Skinny Jump programme, which offers affordable, pre-pay wireless broadband to families without internet.