Just Good Business : Faster Broadband Will Deliver Triple-Whammy Benefits

If you’ve been wondering about the impact of providing significantly faster broadband to homes and businesses, the first results are in.
Entertainment providers will win.
However, the sleeping giant is in faster broadband’s ability to stimulate new business.
Thirty-two percent of business decision makers say they will take advantage of faster broadband to run business.
A ShapeNZ survey of 3500 New Zealanders, jointly commissioned by Vodafone and the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, finds faster broadband could result in more people working from home and teleworking – and having more time for families, friends, leisure and hobbies – while cutting travel time.
A sub-sample of 749 business managers, proprietors and self-employed (weighted with maximum margin of error of +/-3.6 percent) shows any significant improvement in broadband service will trigger business people to use it for these things they don’t do now:
• Entertainment – 38 percent
• Run business – 32 percent
• Telework from home – 31 percent
• Shop online – 30 percent
• Gaming – 12 percent.
Some 28 percent say none of these – because their broadband speed is already adequate.
The country is evenly split on whether faster broadband should be delivered by $1 billion investment in fibre optic cable, or through technology-neutral solutions (which would allow for greater choice on ways of connecting).
No doubt those lobbying battles are to come.
But importantly, this first survey of the impact of mobile and internet ­communications, shows the new technology can significantly improve and alter lifestyles and ways of working.
For example:
• Fifty-three percent of business decision makers say they’re working six hours plus week at home on broadband. Nine percent are working 31 to 40 hours week at home on broadband, six percent 40 hours plus – indicating the teleworking executive market might be nine percent overall.
• Texting and calling from their mobiles has cut down travel for 32 percent of business people.
• Video calling is having less travel-reduction impact (seven percent).
• Texting, mobile calling and broadband have cut time spent working by business people by 29 percent (four percent say greatly reduced time), while
• Fifty-seven percent of business people say it has increased their productivity (26 percent greatly).
There are work-life balance and quality-of-life wins:
• Time spent with friends and family is up for 35 percent of business people because of mobiles and broadband (29 percent say it has reduced).
• Sixty-five percent report they have more time for leisure and hobbies (17 percent say they have less).
For their organisations, the 28 percent say mobiles and broadband have lifted productivity, 47 percent report lift in flexible work arrangements for their employees and 65 percent say the technology has improved communications with their employees.
For individuals and the country it’s an encouraging first result.
Vodafone is commissioning more in-depth research. The Government will be pleased.
There are gains to be made from improving broadband speed. New businesses may flourish, while the social and environmental impacts will be more positive than negative.
Just 20 years ago mobile phone was the size of brick and the internet didn’t exist for day-to-day use in business and households.
Now we can use mobile and broadband to lower our environmental impact, cut costs, grow business and improve family life – and have more time for leisure and hobbies.
The future’s exciting.
Copies of the report can be found at: www.vodafone.co.nz/media.

Peter Neilson is chief executive of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development.

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