Digital inclusion essential for COVID-19 response
Maryann Robertson •
InternetNZ is today calling on the Government and Internet Service Providers to ensure all New Zealanders are able to be online as part of the COVID-19 response.
This is important given that so much of the official information about COVID-19 and the response is being distributed by the Government online.
InternetNZ Chief Executive, Jordan Carter says the Internet is one of the best tools we have to help New Zealand keep going during these challenging times.
“The Internet is already an important part of everyday life. As we respond to the COVID-19 crisis, connectivity for all New Zealanders is vital to maintaining social cohesion, sharing essential information and maintaining work and education,” says Carter.
InternetNZ is calling on the Government and Internet Service Providers to make sure no New Zealanders are left digitally excluded during COVID-19.
The non-profit organisation wants to see the New Zealand Government commit to practical action, as part of the next phase of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- direct schools network provider Network for Learning to develop solutions for providing connectivity to school communities, building off its service infrastructure into schools.
- partner with commercial Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to develop and distribute solutions for beneficiaries and those on low incomes, such as the Spark Jump product.
- provide subsidies for Internet connectivity and, if necessary, Internet capable devices, to low income households.
As household data usage increases, InternetNZ is also asking ISPs to commit to waiving charges for people that go over their data allowances, as is being done in Australia. They should also consider not disconnecting customers who fail to pay their bills during this time.
“The Internet will help us all stay connected, informed and productive during this COVID-19 crisis. We must work together to ensure all New Zealanders have access.”