Please Australia Let’s Have Some Vision for Broadband

The Sunday Age>:  March 2nd 2008.  The Australian Labor Party announces plans to tender for a fibre to the node network to get most of the population broadband speeds of up to 24mbps.  A little behind virtually everyone else, but better late than never. 

I have argued many times and in many places that ubiquitous broadband changes the way we think and live, as well as work. One significant criticism of the current Australian deployment is that all plans available to consumers have download limits of, sometimes as little as, 250 mgbt per month.  I have never come across this anywhere else in the world.  And certainly to call a 500 kbps line and 250 mgbt download limit a broadband service is stretching it a bit (and would not qualify as broadband in Europe).  My point is, that with these limitations, people go into broadband with a dial-up mentality:  worried about time on line and download costs.  I know friends who don’t update system software with security patches because they are anxious it will trigger their limits in a particular month.  That is just plain crazy and hardly a life changing experience and a long way from ‘always on’.

Anyway back to the Sunday Age on March 2nd and I quote Jason Koutsoukis’  front page article:

"With internet speeds like 25 megabits per second, people living in the same house will be able to use the network simultaneously for different purposes.

This could include a broadcast-quality video telephone call, while someone else watches high definition internet television and another person plays online gaming. "

What a great vision for the future:  making a phone call, watching TV while someone plays a computer game, or worse still gambles on line! That is a real revolution in how we lead our lives.  My broadband life would be: interacting with a grandchild on the other side of the world, engaging with a  social network that is dispersed across a city or a community to plan an event or a sporting engagement; taking five minutes to order the groceries on line rather than an hour in the supermarket, whilst planning a holiday by visiting the location virtually. This might include reading what others who went there thought, and buying a guidebook to download and read on your computer or phone screen or listen to on your ipod on the way to work tomorrow. What about letting your parents see your photos and movies online of your last weekend away or your child’s second birthday party that they were unable to attend. It could include learning a language online where you talk with ‘real’ people or finding out how to fix that leak in a tap, now you have bought the new washer, by watching a video of someone actually doing it rather than trying to make head or tail of written instructions.  All this whilst your child is doing some homework research for school tomorrow and your daughter is playing a new computer game which allows her to dive around a reef and explore the fish and the vegetation in depth, using online sources.  This makes broadband add value rather than be an expensive way of doing what we do now.

Please let us see this stuff as life-enhancing, allowing us to do new things in new ways and enrich our lives, not just replace what we can do anyway. No wonder no one is really beating at the door and demanding a universal fast network apart from the politicans. 

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