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Chapter 2: Geographic Distribution

Research on the digital divide has pointed to geographic differences in Internet diffusion, with urban connectivity levels exceeding rural (Statistics Canada, 2002, 6). One of the major problems facing rural dwellers is the level of telecommunications services provided. Households situated some distance from a major urban area may be confronted with slow, unstable Internet connections and limited access, as infrastructure becomes a major problem (Maharey, 2000).

Data from the 2001 Census showed that households in the Auckland and Wellington regions had the highest level of Internet access (44 percent). The next highest level (36 percent) was found in the Canterbury and Nelson regions. The West Coast and Gisborne regions were the least connected, both with 25 percent (see figure 16).

Figure 16
Household Internet Access
By region
2001

Household internet access by region.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings

The North Shore City and Wellington City were the most connected territorial authorities (53 percent). These were followed by households in the Auckland City and the Queenstown-Lakes District with 47 and 44 percent, respectively. Wairoa District (18 percent), Opotiki District (20 percent) and the Buller District (22 percent) were the least connected.

Households in the main urban areas of New Zealand had the highest rates of Internet access (40 percent), followed by those situated in rural areas with fewer than 300 people (37 percent). Minor urban areas had the lowest levels of Internet access with just 25 percent of households connected. It appears that with the exception of other rural/inlet, there is a relationship between population size and Internet access, with those living in smaller centres less likely to be connected.

Figure 17
Household Internet Access
By area
2001

Household internet access by area.


Source: Statistics New Zealand, 2001 Census of Population and Dwellings

The 2001 Census showed that households in the North Island were more likely to be connected to the Internet (39 percent) than their counterparts in the South Island (34 percent).

Data from sample surveys such as the HES have limitations on the level of information available at regional level. Results from HES 2000/01 show that a higher proportion of households located in the Auckland region have a home computer (57 percent) compared with the remainder of New Zealand. The same proportion of households in the Auckland and the lower North Island regions reported Internet expenditure (27 percent each).

Households in the Auckland region reported a similar annual average expenditure to the lower North Island region ($71 and $64, respectively). The annual average expenditure for both the upper North Island and for the South Island was around $48.

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