I woke up this morning to the news that the internet is slow … because of Netflix (and other such related companies).
Wow … this is news (not). The internet in Australia is a dodgy hotch-potch of technologies and connections based on an outdated and totally-neglected copper telephone network. It has never been great, but now it’s terrible. In simple terms it can’t keep up with the load of people streaming movies across the internet. This is most evident from around 4.00pm onwards – when the kids get home from school the internet slows to a crawl. There has always been an impact but now it is pretty bad – to the point where things like making Skype calls in the evenings (I do a lot of those for sporting committee meetings) is becoming untenable.
The previous Australian government (I’ll keep political parties out of it) decided we needed a fibre-to-the-home network across Australia (we call it the “NBN” – National Broadband Network), but the current government looked at the cost, decided they could get themselves re-elected for a lot longer if they took that money and spent it elsewhere, and scaled back that little venture, preferring to create a mix of copper, fibre and wifi. Did I mention “hotch-potch” somewhere earlier?
Ironically it’s now home users who are complaining and being heard. Business has been screaming for ages that our communications infrastructure is woeful, and that we pay a fortune for both phone and internet connectivity, but that seems to have fallen on deaf ears (politically). It will be interesting to see if the politicians now start to take notice due to the fact that the people who do the majority of the voting are now the ones complaining.
Blind freddy can see the benefits of having a fast, reliable, low-cost communications infrastructure in a country. No, I don’t mean we can all watch online movies at night – I mean we can conduct business in an innovative, economic and forward-thinking manner. It might even mean I don’t need to get on a plane to go and see customers across the country – I could do it with video conferencing. However trying to do that in Australia today would end up a farce – with customers a little less happy at the end of such a debacle than at the start.
So Australia struggles along in the 19th century – with all the innovative ways of doing business out there on the table – all hamstrung by the fact that they can’t communicate with one another.
I’m amazed the web hasn’t crashed while I’m trying to upload this.