We will take 12Mbps as the likely outcome for the majority of Australians if we don’t get the NBN. Of course the argument goes that no one needs 1gbps because there isn’t a user case for it. And even 100mpbs would be a waste because private industry didn’t build it already.
Just stop and think about the last 10 years in Australia and the tools that we use. Then after reading this think about what you are going to do in 10 years time.
Starting a bit before 10 years ago, in 1992 there were two yes two ISP’s in Australia. Telstra weren’t to switch on ADSL until 2000. And it wasn’t until 2006 that Telstra removed the cap and let ADSL1 get to 8Mbps. ( BTW how many people actually get that kind of speed)
Google which is now such an integral part of some many of our lives ( see all those ads on the side) only overtook Altavista in 2000. YouTube launched in Nov 2005, only to be grabbed by Google less than a year later for a cool US$1.65 billion in Google Stock.. Now people upload more than 24 hours of content every single minute. Google Maps which is doing a fine job of killing of map directories launched in 2007. Street View didn’t hit Australia till August 2008. Yes just a squeak over 2 years ago.
Flickr, didn’t launch until Feb 2004. It wasn’t until December 2006 that pro accounts got unlimited uploads. In this month Flickr officially had its 5billionth photo uploaded, given that the 4billionth shot was uploaded in Oct 2009, that is 1 billion photos in 11months. Uploads run to around 3,000 per minute.
MySpace… much maligned at the looser to Facebook launched in 2002. But still for the looser they are still the 32nd most visited website in the world. Which of course leads to the current behemoth that is Facebook. It didn’t launch to the public until September 2006. 4 years later it has ½ a billion users. They are now the number 2 visited website, with of course Google still number 1. (Source Alexa.com)
Of the Top 10 sites as September 2010, really only Yahoo and Windows Live can claim to have been any sort of influence pre 2000. YouTube, Facebook, Baidu, Wikipedia, Blogspot and Twitter just didn’t exist. These are content rich sites. They are not just light weight text sites, but sites with rich media, photos, HD Video e.t.c.
The big argument is about wireless taking over and making Fibre to the Home obsolete. Ignoring the obvious thing about the physics of it all and that fact that you can just your N grade wifi with many of the new devices to connect to the backbone at your home or work, let think about wireless devices.
It wasn’t until the N95 that you could get a 5megapixel camera and GPS in one device. That was March 2007. Nokia also gave us the first phone with a compass, in 2008. Apple didn’t launch the first IPhone until June 2007. The IPhone 4 now has a 5megapixel camera. The Nokia N8 is launching with a 12 mega-pixel camera, with 8 mega-pixels becoming common on high end phones. Nokia in 2008 became the world’s largest manufacturer of any kind of camera. These devices now support N Wifi, with its data capabilities of 600mbit/s. Telstra’s Next G has speeds upto 42Mbit/s. So are you going to rely on just wireless or use your local or someone else’s WiFi network.
My phone has a 1 GHz CPU, 10 years ago that was the top of the line CPU for home computers. Now I do lots of stuff on the move, but the heavy lifting as it were is done at home on the big computer, the one with 12gig of ram and 3tb of storage.
The advent of P2P has forced a dramatic change in the way we view television and listen to music as well. Napster only came onto the scene in 1999. Bit Torrent wasn’t released as a protocol until 2001, now it is estimated to be anywhere between 20-50% of Internet Traffic. Whereas previously Australia was often low down in the priority order for showing first run shows, now networks “RUSH” TV shows often within a day or less of airing internationally just to circumvent this technology. The ABC only launched IView in 2008. In 2010 is launched live streaming of ABCNews24 (chewing up around 300mb p/h ) in the process. Now all the channels offer some sort of IPTV Catch up service.
This is just a sample of various tech over the last 10 years. Many of the examples above are only 5 years old. The other big advantage of the NBN is that either end of the cable can be upgraded, so the 1gbps is an artificial limit. In some respects it happens to be the most cost effective for deployment for the whole project.
There is no technology on the horizon that is going to be able to compete with Fibre to the Home for speed. This is a rare chance for Australia to be a world leader with all the benefits that will bring. Or it is a chance for us to shy away and spend the next 10 years catching up. Look above to see what happened in the last 10 years, the clock is ticking.