Thursday, February 01, 2007

Connected by broadband, slow in applications (1)

The Netherlands is in the top league of broadband connections and is always competing with Danmark, Sweden or Iceland in Europe. Yet the broadband connections are great, but in applications the Dutch lag behind. In order to amend this caveat, there is an association, called Netherland Broadbandland (NBL). This association is a public-private partnership (PPP), which wants to stimulate broadband applications in business and industry as well as government. Citizens get what they want, but shops and companies still lag behind, while the connections are there.

In order to stimulate broadband in business and industry as well as in government, NBLC sets up projects in various sectors and organises meetings. On Wednesday there was such a meeting, The Meeting of Minds. With lectures, demonstrations and debates people from the various sectors started to show lead projects to each other and debate the lack of progress.

The formal part of Meeting of Minds was opened by Mr Willem Vermeend, a former assistant secretary of state for finance and a fervent game player, while the keynote address was given by Mr Mark Frequin, a secretary general at the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Mr Vermeend started with a teasing blow, informing Mr Frequin, that Sweden had just opened an embassy in Second Life; the first country to start a virtual embassy, while The Netherlands could only whistle for it. Mr Frequin told the audience that The Netherlands was working on.

The remark gave him the opportunity to make clear to the audience that the Dutch have indeed fine broadband connections; this has been possible thanks to SURFnet, the academic network, which also influences the private sector. But in applying the business opportunities the Dutch have been lacklustre; this while ICT has been the most important growth factor for the country. But in many business and industrial sectors broadband does not come about because the sectors are fragmented, especially in the sectors of retail, health care and government. So what is needed is an upscaling of the broadband applications in the sectors.

This where NBL comes in and starts to form coalitions between government, institutes, sector associations and companies. Since 2005 NBL has started activities in retail in automotive and the leisure industry, in education and in health care. NBL has also undertaken a project in mobility.

In the next days I will pay attention to mobility, leisure industry, education, health care and government.

Blog Posting Number: 651

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