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Realizing Our Broadband Future « Previous | |Next »
December 11, 2009

Over the last couple of days I've been dipping into the Realizing Our Broadband Future conference being held at the University of NSW. The speeches are online, and some of them go beyond the technology of pipes and connectivity to explore how it will be incorporated into our everyday lives and how we will make use of a high speed broadband over and above e-business, e-health, e-education. If the Internet is profoundly changing society, and is likely to have impacts beyond what can be imagined today, then the future delivered by a national highspeed broadband network is a geek heaven.

The significance of high speed broadband was outlined by Jeffrey Cole, Director USC Annenberg School, yesterday. This keynote speech, with its roots in the work of the Centre for Digital Future, was historically informed.

Cole argued that we have come a long way since dial-up with Web 2.0 and the emergence of social media. It was kinda sobering to realize just how fast we have travelled in 5 years. We are standing on the threshold of something new. This is the ABC's interpretation of the something new.

I've just heard David Bartlett, the Premier of Tasmania, give an excellent speech on the potential for Tasmania connected by high speed broadband currently being built under the auspices of the wholesale national broadband network. This will make Tasmania one of the most connected place on the planet and it enables Tasmania to shift away from the old resource based economy to a knowledge-based, creative digital economy. His argument was that this infrastructure investment is going to pay off in terms of GDP development, entrepreneurial opportunity and innovation.

To its credit the ALP and the Rudd Government, have grasped the significance of this 21st century technology--hence the regional backhaul project to provide wholesale competition to overcome Telstra's regional price gouging and blackspots.

In contrast, the Coalition opposition, or more accurately the Liberal Party, views broadband reform through the window of small government and continued Telstra dominance (Minchin continually attacked the move to force Telstra's separation to ensure greater competition). Under Minchin, the Liberal strategy was to undermine the National Broadband Network (NBN) rather than making a constructive contribution to the policy. It was based on an indifference to both the ICT industry and to a knowledge-based digital economy.

The Liberal Party doesn't seem to realize that the argument about infrastructure is over.There is widespread public support for government to invest more in internet infrastructure (the NBN), better regulation of telecommunications companies, and more incentives for businesses to improve the Internet. Now that we are building a national broadband network, the question becomes, 'What are we going to use it for?

This applies to the government. What is the education department going to use it for? What is the health department going to use it for? What is aged care department going to use it for? What is the environment department going to use it for?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:14 AM | | Comments (7)
Comments

Comments

The cost of using Telstra's Internet 'backhaul' links to rural areas is prohibitive -- and there are no alternatives. here is no competition, there is just Telstra [most of the time]. So Telstra has enjoyed monopoly pricing.

From what I can gather the internet is about to become the de facto fourth commercial television network in Australia.

Internode and iiNet are in talks with Fetch TV (AU ) to deliver a low-cost pay-TV service over broadband to their customers' TV sets. You would need ADSL 2+ to access this until the NBB comes online. I guess it is a lead into the NBN.

Will FETCH TV have much more on-demand content from day 1 than Foxtel does? What sort of content? Lots of news+ docos? Will it be like the ABC's iView where you can pick and choose programs rather than having to be stuck with reality tv, games shows, soap operas? What sort of content? Lots of news+ documentaries?

During the '07 campaign I fielded a lot of phone calls and e-mails from rural, semi rural voters wanting to compare the Lib broadband policy with that of the ALP.
So I would direct them to the official Lib site for such and suggest they clicked onto the 'small print' links at the bottom of each of 2 pages there and thus arrive at a disclaimer [from the private companies involved in the Lib alternate scheme] which announced that owing to technical problems, which they detailed, the degree of efficiency that would likely result from the implementation of their scheme was far less than the cute maps [they didn't use the word 'cute'] above and previous would suggest.

fred,
sure the regional backhaul maps are cute maps. However, they are not just maps---the deal has been signed off between Nextgen Networks and the Rudd Government to build the fibre (not wireless) backhaul. Wireless was the 2006-7 Liberal Party plan. It is great that the Victor Harbor Fleurieu Peninsula is being built. It will make a big difference--video will no longer break up every 30 secs for instance.

Have a look at the Broken Hill broadband network to be built by Nextgen Networks over the next 18mths.

It is far more extensive than I thought----the fibre backhaul runs from Broken Hill to Mildura where it joins another one running from Gawler to Shepparton through the River Murray regions. That displacement of, or competition with, Telstra is something to celebrate I would have thought.

If Internode and iiNet are moving into introducing low-cost pay-TV service over their ADSL2+ broadband network to their customers' TV sets next year, then they are assuming that the national broadband network will be fast enough to deliver video, film and international broadcast news over the wholesale network. Again, this fibre capability, is something to celebrate.

That broadband capability opens up a lot of possibilities for regional businesses something the Premier of Tasmania is very aware of. This infrastructure is a game changer, just like rail in the C19th and road in the C20th. An interconnected Tasmania is going to show what it is possible.


I think I may have been ambiguous Gary, the 'cute' maps to which I was referring were the ones the Libs were using pre-election '07.

The maps you linked to [ta for that], and I checked out Broken Hill and Victor Harbor, are far from 'cute', they are, as you say, very impressive and will literally bring the world to substantial rural areas.

Definitely a 'game changer'.

I see the ALP broadband plan as potentially one of their great achievements.

Sadly I'll miss out tho' I think, we are in the gap left by the proposed new links [between mannum and Swan Reach]. But I was reconciled to not being part of any upgrade anyway. I can't enjoy the wonders of living in the donga and expect all the privileges of the city simultaneously.

Exciting stuff.

fred,
yeah I wondered. The Broken Hill map is vague on the Mannum + Swan Reach bit. If you are left out I reckon that you will be able to connect by wireless to the national broadband network.

Is that better than what you currently have?

No.
Unfortunately.
Well at least thats what I am led to believe by family and friends IT types who do all my thinking for me when it comes to computer stuff.
I lose service maybe 4-5 times a week for a few minutes to some hours at a time depending on which way the wind is blowing and how long the message I was just about to send is. Or so it seems.
Download is slow, a few kms per hour or whatever they measure these things with.
We have a satellite service worth about $3,000 or so which that nice lady Helen Coonan I think it was gave us for nothing, gor bless 'er.
Didn't win our votes tho' so they wasted their money.
Basically our service is a smallish step up from dial-up.

But hey, you can't win 'em all.