Telecommunications provider Flip says low income families are missing out on the benefits of being digitally connected.
Over 400,000 households with a homeline have no internet access or only have dial up, restricting easy access to the majority of websites and preventing the use of Skype and other online communication tools.
Cost has been identified as a key factor in creating a digital divide in New Zealand between those who can afford it and those who can’t.
“The United Nations stated earlier this year that having access to the internet is a human right. A substantial percentage of kiwis is being short changed because access to broadband too expensive. It’s out of the reach of many ordinary New Zealand families who are already struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table.
“Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it’s become a key tool for our children’s learning and for finding employment, for example” says Scott Hoogerbrug, Head of Marketing at Flip.
In February 2011 the Department of Internal Affairs completed a literature review of the community’s access to digital technologies which identified that low income Kiwis are missing out.
“Clearly the digital divide between the higher income and lower income families is on the Government’s radar”, says Scott.
Scott Hoogerbrug says that access to the internet shouldn’t be restricted to higher income families. Flip believes Kiwis have been paying too much for broadband and as 75% of new Flip customers are new to broadband they’re making a sizable dent in the hundreds of thousands without decent internet access.
“We believe Flip has created a tipping point with its affordable pricing and for the first time many New Zealander’s feel like broadband is within their financial reach. To be helping to close the digital divide can only be a good thing and we’re excited about leading the charge”.