Listening to ABC radio the other night I was struck again by how eloquent some politicians can be. A minister was talking about the National Broadband Network (NBN) as a major milestone for innovation and learning. And I’d agree. Her points yesterday were then followed by the usual tirade of the other parties inadequacy to grasp this seemingly infantile fact. After unnecessary panning of her opposites she was back to back slapping of how good various other policies in her constituency, and selective others, have resulted in admirable learning improvements. Finally a yarn about how countries X and Y were so much better than Australia in terms of internet access and services. The cherry on the cake was a new Irish immigrant who was, shock horror, commenting on how third world Australia was.
Its ironic then that, in my opinion she too failed to grasp, that the NBN is more than just the new or the opportunity to showboat or criticise. Simply put, I believe, is about making, at a minimum, standard services applicable for everyone.
At this point I switched off the radio, annoyed with the arrogance and ceremony of parliament. I reflected on a colleagues comment that it is amazing we have this little box, in most homes, that can tell us the answer to almost every question we can think of and give us suggestions for things we would rather not. No, I felt like telling the presenter, we are not third world country because the internet isn’t fast. Get a grip.
But is it important the speed to businesses? We’ll, simply yes. Didn’t Bill coin the phrase Business at the Speed of Thought?
When I first got a computer I was barely able to get 16 colours. Since then I have owned, borrowed, constructed and maintained many different and increasingly more powerful computers.At the same time I have moved from the modest 4k RAM and 32k cartridges to 8Gb RAM standard 1Gb portable USB 3.0 drives. My Windows 7 phone is more powerful than any computer I owned or used pre-2005. My first modems could barely hit a thousand baud and now I can barely operate without gigabit links. My first computer I could run a simple single user game with limited interaction, and my current phone can install connected applications on demand.
My point being, as we centralise resources we can expect the scale and demands on broadband to make a jump if they are to be in parallel. If not, we can expect more of the same or less of the new. We will need more network capability as businesses move away from brittle, costly and cost depreciative outlays to a pay for what you use model (like Windows Azure). This encompasses everything from email, to accounting to line of business applications. I’ve seen recently some companies like Readify move to the cloud for everything. Its not unreasonable for other companies to do the same in the near term. And as they do, more of their network, and yours since the internet is public, will bow under the pressure to do the common and mundane functions as well as the innovative.
If we don’t invest, we won’t be third world, far from it, we will just be slow.