InternetNZ Fellowship Acceptance
July 27 2018
Last night at the InternetNZ AGM 2018, James Watts, our managing director, was made
a Fellow of InternetNZ. An acknowledgement of all the work that he and Inspire Net does
and has done over the last 20 years. Congrats James, well done!
Thank you so much for this, I feel a little humbled when I look at the other Fellows
and what they have done for the Internet in New Zealand. I expect many people might say
about me is “who’s that guy?”.
I guess I tend to fly under the radar and have always said “yes I can spend a day to
come to your meeting, or I can spend that day connecting a rural school, a farmer, or an underserviced area…” and to be honest, its very rare for me to go to meetings.
My passion has always been for connecting people, as I believe that connectivity changes
lives, normally mostly for the better, and I am helped in this crusade by a team of people at Inspire.
From Inspire Net becoming one of the challengers to how customers were treated in a dial
up market in 1998, being charged $279 a month for 100 hours of dial up access, building wireless
networks to connect rural users that were being left behind, or leading the charge in building our
own fibre network in 2003, after being told by an incumbent that no one really needed 100Mbit, and
dark fibres were only talked about in dark smoky rooms where no one could see you.
I have always felt we at Inspire, along with many others, have been a challenger to the
incumbent model, firstly to ensure that everyone had a chance to connect to the Internet, and now
to ensure everyone has a connection at a speed and price that means they are not left behind. We
proved that affordable fibre was not a pipe dream, connecting 100Mbit circuits across our local
city 15 years ago, at a price in 2003 that still rivals the offerings that have come along with
the UFB network, that enabled many of my friends to keep their businesses located not only in our
country, but actually in our city.
We have built networks to connect people where everyone said it wasn’t possible, lead the
way in the charge towards fibre, Free Wi-fi in public spaces and prepaid Wi-fi in Universities
and Military bases so people could connect without 12month contracts, or could not connect at all
due to no services available.
From like-minded souls along the way such as Andy Linton, Dean Pemberton, and Richard “roading
is just a temporary duct cover” Naylor, who have always had an opinion, a point of view, a cunning
plan, decades of experience, or who have played devil’s advocate to some of my more radical ideas,
through to working with Richard Orzecki, who I found shared my passion of connecting people, putting
Wifi at his Marae when no one else wanted to help him. These are just a few of the people who have
helped shape not only what the Inspire group of companies have achieved, but also helped me with an
understanding of what it is to be part of a community, working together and sharing knowledge that
helps put us all in a better place, that it isn’t always for the pure pursuit of profit, and have
taught me the wisdom of sharing what I have learned as far and wide as I can for the good of our
community in the future.
James Watts - Owner