You think 12Mpbs is Enough….. A Look back at the last 10 years.

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

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.

4 Responses to “You think 12Mpbs is Enough….. A Look back at the last 10 years.”

  1. The “look ahead ten years” argument fails, IMHO, because it presupposes that the NBN is the only possible way (or even the best possible way) to satisfy 2020’s imaginary requirements.

    If we’d said “look ahead 10 years” during the dialup days of 1997-2000, we’d have thought that the idea that several megabits to almost everyone’s house, and several hundred kilobits to everyone’s mobile phone, was equally outlandish.

    Seems to me that people who accuse NBN naysayers of a failure of imagination are, themselves, guilty of a failure of imagination.

    For instance: At the end of this blog post, you segued almost seamlessly from the NBN to FTTH, as if the two concepts were equivalent. Is there no conceivable way that FTTH could be deployed without the NBN? I suggest that it can be: The Opticomm Tas build has shown how to do reasonably cheap commercial brownfields deployments, housing developers all over the country are doing reasonably cheap greenfields deployments, and the growth rate of FTTH right now exceeds the initial growth rate of ADSL back in the early 2000’s. All without an NBN. So, cast your imagination forward ten years: Can you foresee a non-NBN world where FTTH is commonly deployed?

    I certainly can.

    (and I say this not as an NBN naysayer, having published articles saying the opposite. I say it as someone who abhors unrealistic hyperbole. There are many serious, realistic reasons to proceed with the project, it shouldn’t be necessary to retreat to the weakest arguments to justify it)

    – mark

  2. Yes, it certainly gives that hope.

    Although you’d have been making precisely the same statements about “able to get faster than 56kbps at some point in the next few years” if you were on a non-ADSL-enabled exchange in 2000 and an ADSL NBN had been proposed.

    If demand for 100 Mbps is there, it’ll be built. It might not be built on the schedule that you want, but there are other people (in, for instance, Lochiel Park or Lightsview in Adelaide, or Point Cook in Melbourne) for whom the schedule is just perfectly fine and peachy keen.

    FTTH is, to my view, mirroring the ADSL rollout from last decade, only faster. The thing that characterized that entire decade for me was having virtually everyone say, “When will you do my exchange?” when they met me at conferences. There was a sense of impatient lust, which, for almost everybody, has subsequently been sated.

    It just doesn’t happen overnight. Even the NBN won’t happen overnight: Somewhere in Australia right now is a community that won’t get NBN connectivity until at least 2019. Maybe it’s where you live 🙂

    So anyway, I don’t think the NBN is about whether 100 Mbps FTTH will be built. That argument has been had, and the answer is, “Yes.”

    I think the debate is about whether it’s built in the specific form the Government is currently proposing, to the specific population coverage target, with the specific set of regulatory settings in the ALP’s draft legislation (which Conroy was singularly unsuccessful at getting through the parliament for the last three years — which makes the entirety of the NBN purely theoretical at this point in time).

    And that’s a worthy debate to have, IMHO. Four years ago the notion that broadband was Government’s problem to solve in the first place was faintly outlandish, and things have moved so fast that now we’re considering turning NBNCo into the national monopoly provider of virtually all telecommunications. Perhaps we should slow down, take a deep breath, and think through the societal implications of a shift like that…

    – mark

  3. The idea that 12Mbps is complete and utter rubbish. Frankly I’d argue that 100Mbps is short of the mark considering other countries have had such speeds for a long time already.

    You simply don’t plan for the future by implementing that fails to meet even current standards; Over the last few years we’ve seen a huge shift towards cloud based services and that movement will only continue. More and more file storage is online, even if those files don’t belong to you directly. Take Spotify for instance: why would I want to maintain a huge collection of files myself when I can simply stream music from a much larger collection on any of my devices?

    I currently get terrible ADSL2+ service, I struggle to get over 2Mbps from my connection and that’s simply not acceptable—6 years ago in London I had an uncapped 20Mbit connection for only £35 a month. If Australia tries to stick to using existing copper it’s only setting the country up for failure in an increasingly online world.

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