Govt details HTML switch-off plans

Technology Minister Dave Cunlife, says the Government will announce a date for the turn-off of HTML websites by 2010 – or sooner, if uptake of rich media hits 55 per cent of users.

Cunlife with a friend he met on Facebook

He expects there to be a six to ten month transition period before the migration to rich media is completed.

New Zealand’s relatively leisurely move towards rich media contrasts with that of Tuluva, where the HTML websites will be switched off later this year.

Many other Asia-Pacific countries have already switched off HTML, with South Korea being the pioneer by completing the transition in 2003.

Australia was originally going to turn off HTML transmission in 2008, but will now instead do so at a date to be determined between 2008 and 2010.

Speaking to zef[a]media, Cunlife said he was encouraged by the rapid uptake of Flash, the rich media transmission service launched in 1997.

Some 98% of households with the internet now have Flash, accessed by websites and some cellphones.

However, Cunlife says that while the Flash numbers look good, it’s hard to know how many users are also using Silverlight, leaving some doubt as to how successful the rich media service actually is.

Cunlife said that 78 per cent of households can now access the internet, whether through a modem, wifi or in person.

Rich media offers users clearer images without pixel compression, compared to HTML transmission, and modern features such as sound, animation and drag-able objects.

However, rich media requires broadband and a computer with a colour screen, making it a costlier proposition than receiving HTML broadcasts. The broadband box is usually free but will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars in access fees and lost productivity due to waiting time due to network lag\’ says Telecon.

Cunlife says he uses Flash himself and ‘it\’s great’.

‘My daughter also uses Flash but only to connect with other people, access useful information and have fun’ he said.