Top 10 predictions for 2015 - how did we do?

Andrew-CushenA blog post from Andrew Cushen, Work Programme Director at InternetNZ
15 December 2015

Well folks, tis the season for reflection and celebration, right? This time last year I penned InternetNZ’s Top 10 Predictions for the Internet in 2015 - you can see that here: https://internetnz.nz/blog/top-10-predictions-internet-2015

So in the spirit of transparency and admitting my lack of ability as a soothsayer, what better way to round out 2015 than to see how I went…

10. More large-scale Internet security incidents

TICK! Internet security issues aren’t going away. The recent launch of the New Zealand Cyber Security Strategy included these statistics:

• NetSafe recorded 8,061 cyber incidents in 2014, with losses through scams and fraud of almost NZ$8 million (up from 3,317 cyber incidents in 2013 with losses of more than NZ$4.4 million).

• In the 12 months to 31 December 2014 the National Cyber Security Centre recorded 147 cyber incidents. In the first six months of 2015, 132 incidents have been recorded. It is expected that by the end of 2015 this figure will be in excess of 200.

• The Department of Internal Affairs Electronic Messaging Compliance Unit received 8,786 complaints of unsolicited commercial electronic messages (email, SMS or text) in 2014-15 (up from 7,747 in the 2013-14 period).

Yikes. But exactly what we thought when we decided to do something about it. We’ve been busy working this year with the NZITF on a CSIRT proposal that can help deal with these things - you can find out more about that and how to get involved here: www.csirt.nz.

9. ICANN will get to grips with becoming more accountable

TICK! The ICANN Accountability process still has a ways to play out, but they’ve certainly moved a considerable way toward an acceptable outcome for the New Zealand Internet Community.

We at InternetNZ have played a big part in that work. I tip my hat to Jordan and Keith for their massive workload this year in making things better for a more multistakeholder, more accountable Internet. A great summary of the issues in this and the work we’ve done is available here: https://internetnz.nz/blog/icann-accountability-chronology-and-dublin-thoughts,  and if you’d like to follow things more closely, ping Jordan -jordan@internetnz.net.nz.

8. Companies will realise that rampant charging for Internet access is just a bit rough

WHOOPS. We can’t take a point here, even though we’ve seen some good things happen in 2015. Spark has continued and even made better their free wifi offering. We’ve seen the emergence of a new mobile operator, BlueSky, who is leasing space on Spark’s network.

However… recent stats from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) puts New Zealand fixed line broadband pricing at 60th best in the world. 60th!! (You can read all 200+ pages of the ITU report here (PDF):http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Documents/publications/misr2015/MISR2015-w5.pdf

7. The Internet will continue to confound legislators

WHOOPS. I’m marking this one down as a failure because I shouldn’t have been such a pessimist. That’s because the New Zealand Government has actually been doing some nice, positive things to use legislation to promote the benefits and uses of the Internet in NZ, and protecting its potential.

We’ve seen them launch the Convergence Review for example; a massive, multi-headed review of a whole pile of internet-related matters. They appear to be taking their time and consulting widely on this work - exactly the way it should be done. Our submissions on this work are available here: https://internetnz.nz/publications/submissions and you can see my initial thoughts on this review here: https://internetnz.nz/blog/initial-thoughts-convergence.

We also predicted here that the Harmful Digital Communications Act would pass, and it did. But that’s the last we heard… until an order was made under this Act, telling a blogger what he could do on his website, despite the relevant sections not being in force (details at: http://yournz.org/2015/12/08/court-order-discharged/). This isn’t such a positive story about legislating the Internet well. We said that the merits of this regime are wholly dependent on the appointment of an Approved Agency (see here: https://internetnz.nz/news/focus-must-be-education-now-hdc-legislation-place). This regime really relies on the Approved Agency to manage complaints, but many months later, we are still waiting for an agency to be appointed..

6. We will still be talking about Copper pricing

TICK! We sure were, and we still are. We started 2015 on a low note voicing our concern about price rises from all the major ISPs in New Zealand. You can see my thoughts in response to that here: https://internetnz.nz/blog/were-heading-wrong-direction.

Turns out those concerns were justified when we look at what the final price decision has turned out to be: https://internetnz.nz/news/final-copper-pricing-decision-travesty

We will still be talking about Copper pricing in 2016. All of the parties will need to decide if they wish to challenge this decision, and we will need to deal with the ramifications it has for fibre pricing, and Telecommunications Act review too.

5. We'll finally find out what the TPPA says, and then finally be able to work on Copyright

TICK! A lot of hard work has gone in to make the TPPA less bad than it could have been before. Yes, we still have challenges to face and terms to understand - right now, James is hard at work contributing to a comprehensive academic piece of work that analyses this agreement in detail. That’ll be available early next year. For now, here was our initial reaction: https://internetnz.nz/news/first-official-tpp-text-confirms-ip-concerns

Now we turn to how this Agreement is reflected in New Zealand law, and what else we can do to improve copyright in the meantime. We’re done some work communicating new ideas and challenges in copyright, as you can see in our animation and comic on the topic here: https://internetnz.nz/blog/passport-control-checkout

We will be at work on this next year, working to ensure that any implementation of the TPP is reasonably balanced and reflects opportunities for the Internet as well as challenges. As always, you’ll hear from us!

4. More New Zealanders under 30 will access content via online platforms than through traditional broadcast means

WHOOPS. Online content delivery did seem to become more prominent in 2015, but we’ve got no real solid view on how we did versus this particularly bold and specific statement.

What we did though is share our thoughts on what can be done to improve content classification in light of our new opportunities for digital distribution. You can see that submission here: https://internetnz.nz/content/content-regulation-converged-world-submission

3. Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) uptake will surge

TICK! It seems like fibre uptake really did get going this year - and unfortunately, for a while Chorus in particular seemed to struggle with that success in terms of installation performance.

That story now appears to have changed, with connections surging ahead and more and more New Zealanders able to get online with awesome fibre connectivity, and Chorus resourcing up their installers to ensure they can get fibre in in reasonable times. According to the latest update, over 100,000 people are now connected to fibre. 

What this means though is that now we’ve got the infrastructure increasingly sorted, we’ve got to ensure we are taking everyone along. Our submission on the Convergence Programme of work, available here: https://internetnz.nz/content/exploring-digital-convergence, emphasises that InternetNZ believes that reducing the digital divide and investing in Internet skills are ever more vital if the full benefits of connectivity are to be realised.

2. Rural connectivity will take a great leap forward

WHOOPS. Not really. We’ve had the announcement of RBI-2. InternetNZ made a submission asking some pretty big questions about how that programme (and the others announced with it) was going to be administered - you can see that here: https://internetnz.nz/content/ufb-rbi-and-mobile-blackspot-registrations-interest

SInce then we haven’t heard any further. We know the Government wants to invest more, and we know that their key goal is to give greater connectivity to as many people as possible. Unfortunately, it appears we will have to wait until 2016 to hear about how.

In the spirit of giving credit where credit’s due though, we do applaud the Government announcing their new connectivity targets - 50 megabit to 99% of the population by 2025. Our thoughts are here: https://internetnz.nz/news/internetnz-welcomes-rural-internet-ambition

We also recognise the investment and innovation of New Zealand’s mobile providers. LTE is being turned on in a variety of rural locations, and some of those speeds are truly impressive.

Perhaps 2016 will be the year when we wrap our heads around what can be achieved in rural New Zealand?

1. New Zealanders will continue to use the Internet in amazing ways

TICK. And it was an easy prediction to make.

I’m always so amazed working at InternetNZ to be able to see so much ambition, potential and creativity in how New Zealanders are using the Internet. I’m pretty happy to play my small part in that ecosystem, to help keep the Internet open as a place for these things to happen.

We’ve done our share of celebrations this year hosting the ANZIA awards in Auckland - you can check out the winners here as a reminder of some of the amazing things that have been done with the Internet in 2015: https://www.anzia.org.au/

AND THE GRAND TOTAL IS… 6/10

It’s been a massive year. I want to round out this blog post with my thank yous to all of you that read these blogs. Our work at InternetNZ is aided by each and every one of you sharing your thoughts, ideas, feedback and challenges. Thank you for helping us get this work done.

I’ll be back in mid January with my next tranche of predictions for 2016; in the meantime, happy holidays to all.