The Global Telecommunications Revolution Has Social Implications

kids and mobile phoneDuring the past 20 years the telecommunications industry has undergone worldwide revolutionary changes. This is having and will continue to have profound social implications.

Excluding mobile phones there are now almost 1 billion devices connected to the Internet through mobile networks worldwide. These are things like alarm monitoring, electricity smart meters, public transport timetables and watches and glasses. By 2019 it’s forecast that there will be 10 billion devices connected to the Internet worldwide. In other words a ten-fold increase in the Internet of things.

Data speeds have increased significantly and will continue to increase. Data speeds on mobile networks have increased from around 0.1 Mbps in the mid-1990’s to 100 Mbps in 2014. On fixed line networks data speeds have increased from 10 Mbps in 2000 to just under 100 Mbps today. 5 Gbps speeds are predicted in a few years time.

Data volumes have also grown dramatically. The unit cost of data storage is declining. The annual cost of storage per Gb has declined from 101 eurocents in 2009 to 29 eurocents in 2014. In parallel the storage power of computers has grown exponentially. We are seeing the move to cloud computing and “always on” accessibility. Global monthly mobile video traffic is forecast to grow seven fold between 2012 and 2018.

As use of Internet connectivity and global delivery of service expands we are also seeing an increase in the importance of security in order to protect customer privacy and to prevent harm.

We are seeing significant changes in they way that education is delivered as schools utilise mobile devices as a tool for learning in collaborative ways.  In healthcare we see the adoption of text messaging to reduce non attendance at medical check ups and to reduce costs. Banking transactions are now completed online nationally and globally. Customers can keep track of their broadband and electricity usage online as they go – rather than having to wait until their monthly bill arrives in the mailbox. Billing itself is also now moving online as customers increasingly choose to receive their accounts by email rather than paper.

Governments in the 21st century will need to grapple with policy and regulatory challenges such as security, privacy, fair trade, employment conditions, the global movement of capital and the risks to the national tax base.

The question of how to apply enduring democratic principles such as equality of opportunity, free speech and respect for cultural and religious values will need to be addressed sooner rather than later as the technological tide sweeps in and as local sovereignty, cultural institutions and identities are threatened by globalisation. There are risks attached to a growing centralisation of power enabled by technological advances. Governments and non-governmental organisations have important roles to play in this debate. Ultimately it’s about choices. Those choices should be made consciously and proactively – rather than by default. We need to ensure that policies work for people – rather than people for policies.

Equal Access To High Quality Education Needs Safeguarding

>Income Sharing: empowering parentsLiberal Democrats in the UK have argued for fair access to quality education for all children. http://www.libdems.org.uk/a-fair-start-for-every-child

As schools increasingly face budgetary pressure in New Zealand we need to ensure that essential educational investment is not undermined. Education is a vital enabler for future generations to participate in society.

Taxpayers should not be funding Sky City

I can think of many different ways I’d rather see taxpayers money invested other than in a Sky City commercial enterprise. $140million of public funding could do a lot of good in the public health system or in education. The government needs to reassess its priorities if it really believes kiwis want to use hard earned tax dollars for Sky City commercial projects.

Cities Petition FCC In Fight For Municipal Broadband

Roger Ellis:

It cost Chattanooga ratepayers $330 million to build its Council network, but it raised $220 million in bond money and won $111.5 million in federal government stimulus subsidies. Competition from another commercial organisation is one thing but I wonder about a federal and state – subsidised entity overbuilding the private sector. Did anyone consider the economics or do a cost-benefit analysis of what would be in the long term interests of the public (including taxpayers and ratepayers)?

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Cities like Chattanooga, Tenn., have led the charge of providing public broadband services to local communities. Today, Chattanooga and Wilson, N.C., another city that provides municipal broadband, took it a step further by filing petitions to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), asking them to remove state laws that restrict the right to provide broadband services outside their territories, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Last week, the House of Representatives approved legislation from Republican Marsha Blackburn that would forbid the FCC from removing remove state-level restrictions on municipal broadband networks.

What are municipal networks? It’s when a city decides to build infrastructure to provide the local community with its own broadband network service, rather than people having to rely solely on private companies.

The amendment is a part of the Financial Services appropriations bill and was approved by the House of Representatives and would have to be approved by the Senate and then signed by President…

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Budget 2014 – still more to be done

Finance Minister, Bill English, deserves congratulations for his determined focus on balancing the government’s books. It’s taken six years but he is just about there. Also the government has taken some positive initiatives for example extending free GP visits to under 13s – a very helpful step towards improving outcomes for New Zealand’s young people.

However there is still more to be done, regardless of which party controls the treasury benches, after September. In the Health area alone we need to measure the reduction in rheumatic fever cases to ensure that new policy programmes are being effective – particularly for low income households. We need to make faster progress on health initiatives such as extending bowel cancer testing, reducing inequality and taking steps to reduce obesity. We also need to do more to reduce tobacco consumption, drug and alcohol abuse.

On the debt levels in the budget:
1. The government budget surplus is not actually a surplus. At least not yet. It’s a small forecast surplus for next year – 2015-16 – that is 12 months after the election.
2. In fact the 2014-15 current year budget shows the government spending $73.1billion for the year. Its total income from all sources is $72.5billion. This is a deficit of approximately $600million. (p.A4 Dominion Post 16/5.2014)
3. In 2008, crown debt was $10 billion – now it is $60 billion. That’s just the government debt – not the total overseas debt owed by the nation. Our debt as a nation – NZ’s net international debt position – was $141.2 billion at March 31, 2014.

The government has also postponed auto-enrolment in kiwisaver worth up to $290 million. We will need to start re-investing in kiwisaver if we’re going to deepen NZ’s capital markets and reduce reliance on overseas funding. So overall the move towards budget surplus is a big achievement but it would be wrong to assume we can afford a big spend up after the election. We still have urgent social challenges to be addressed and kiwi households and businesses still have very high levels of debt – which means the government debt needs to be reduced further to give us a buffer if there is another oil shock or natural disaster. The challenge for 2014-17 will be keeping on a path to ongoing surpluses to pay down debt – while also investing to tackle urgent social challenges at the same time.

Reaganomics – 25 years on – a failed experiment

Tax cuts, increased defence spending, poor quality or no regulation and cuts to public health, education and social security were the simplistic recipe sold by Margaret Thatcher in the UK in 1979, by Ronald Reagan in the US in 1980 and by Roger Douglas in New Zealand in 1984.

This interesting video clip sets out the problems with Reaganomics. In brief government and national debt went up, government services were reduced, unemployment rose and the manufacturing base was offshored.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5CCRI1vdwE