Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Malcolm's Pretty Good Broadband

While politician quibble, why are we being left in the broadband dust by the Isles of Scilly?

Malcolm Turnbull appears to be going into business in competition with Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery according to a recent speech:

[T]he FCC observes that speeds of less than eight megabits per second are sufficient to deal with most uses, including two-way videoconferencing. Again, where is the need, the applications, that will consume 100 megabits per second to the household?

"If you can't download it with Malcolm's Broadband you can probably get by pretty good without it."


  1. £132 million vs billions.

    Saying we are being left in the dust by them is completely ignoring the economics of the situation, so there's absolutely no reason to mention it, besides some sort of emotional argument. Australia is pretty much screwed compared to smaller, or higher population density countries when it comes to the provision of services like this.

    Now, as for the second point. I agree, to think that bandwidth needs won't increase in the future, is completely stupid. But to spend billions of dollars on something that is less essential than, say, medical services?

    Even given that bandwidth needs will increase, Turnbull does bring up a point that needs discussion. What do you gain from a 100Mbit connection, that you can't get from a 24Mbit ADSL2+ connection?

    Now I admit that you rarely get the full speed, on average maybe actually 8Mbit, but, even then, what do you actually miss out on?

    Such a connection can handle VoIP and TV streaming, and web browsing, what is the normal person on the street missing out on? Can't download torrents as fast?

    Maybe some stats on Internet usage from countries like Japan, Honk Kong, etc, would be a good pointer?

    I'm all for faster Internet speeds, but at a cost to the country of billions (and the creation of a monopoly) is a bit much.

  2. EoR remembers when internet speeds were measured in bits per second, and that was all we needed because that was perfectly adequate for the text based BBSs that we used back then.

    The point is that what we imagine the internet (or any technology) should be used for now in no way determines what it will or could be used for in the future. The internet is becoming less and less a discrete entity. Ranking the internet, or medical services, in some sort of hierarchy is ignoring that they may be synergistic.

    And, on the issue of speeds, don't forget that upload speeds are vastly reduced in relation to download speeds (because most people download rather than upload) but in applications like videoconferencing, both are important.

  3. @Anonymous...sure it will be expensive because of the geography, but - as a moderately wealthy country we have a responsibility for connecting rural and remote people to the modern world.

    You sound like you live near or in a main city - where you have lots of sources of information.
    Rural people want to be able to rely on the internet - for multiple purposes - software updates, documents, and yes even enjoying upload/downloading youtube videos simultaneously!

  4. Try sharing Malcolm's pretty good internet among a few people (a family). It is insufficient for two videos simultaneously.

  5. I realise that there's going to be some synergy with broadband and the medical services, but again, what is the cost vs the benefit? Billions are going to be poured into this thing, when a more cautious approach may be just as effective.

    For example, to address Lucy Jr, I really think that the government could just leave the city infrastructure alone, but I certainly do not see how a cheap private solution can really be addressed for the rural areas.

    In that case, I can see an argument for getting fibre optic to rural areas (although fibre to the door, not too sure about).

    Please don't think I'm arguing like:
    "Well I've got a fast Internet connection so there's no problem!"

    I'm put off the cost, and the creation of a monopoly, a perfect example is Telcom, which became Telstra.

    Now will a faster Internet connection, in both up and down speeds bring in new services? Yes. Is it short-sighted to think that what we have now is going to be enough? Yes.

    However, surely we can look to other countries and figure out what we should be aiming for.

    I'm pretty sure Japan has fibre optic available? So I would assume that would be a good place to get some data from?

    Now to be fair to Turnbull, he does bring up at least one. The government should have a cost benefit report available, is he leading us astray in his speech there? Has one been done?

    Ignoring everything else he says, it would be at least the right thing for a government to do before spending billions of the nations money?

  6. "Rural people want to be able to rely on the internet..."

    We'd be happy with a tiny fragment of commercial digital TV too. We keep seeing ads on TV and in the papers telling us of the amazing world of digTV and what we need to do to "be ready" for it - but we have two commercial providers and neither one seems the least bit interested in delivering digital until they have no option - in 2013.

    I know some people in suburban Albany, a regional city, who still can't get basic broadband speeds!

  7. Re: "I'm pretty sure Japan has fibre optic available?"

    Yes Anonymous,they have...

    "Of those who have broadband, 53.1 percent use a fiber optic network, according to the ministry."

    Last year I was in Kyushu and internet encountered was faster and far cheaper (ie cost 7X less) than home.

  8. I was not meaning uptake stats, but more of what people at home use their Internet connection for. Percentage of browsing, VoIP services, video, etc.

    You can't use the speed, and cheapness as a benchmark for here. As the population density of Japan affords it economic advantages that don't translate to Australian geography.

    The Japanese government offered tax advantages to companies that set up fibre, I'm unaware if the Japanese government itself plonked down billions on it? (Doubtful I think, as Japan is tiny compared to Australia, even if they did contribute a large amount, given the geography I'm unsure the cost will be as high?).

  9. Anonymous, there's no doubt costs differ, given differences in landmass and population. But we have the advantage of being in the money right now.

    If you want breakdown of use - again look at that link I gave. However some info may not be free and I don't have time to dig deeper on the stats.

    It's not just South Korea, Japan and Isles of Scilly - other European nations are chasing high speeds and of course China surges onwards. I rather be flying than crawling.


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