The internet has ceased to become a novelty for the land down under. Instead, its accessibility has become an indispensable facet of Australian life. From entertainment to ecommerce and cloud computing, the increasing importance of the World Wide Web cannot be denied. Unfortunately, this same opportunity is not possible for many Australians, and those that do have access currently suffer from various constraints due to the country’s peculiar geography.
To answer this problem, the Commonwealth Labor Government (under Prime Minister Julia Gillard) helped establish the National Broadband Network Company (NBN), an entity that will endeavour to put every Australian from every corner of the country online. But then, what exactly will a national fibre-optic broadband network mean for the regular consumer?
Let’s discuss the three biggest advantages in greater detail.
Faster and More Stable Connections
Today’s internet infrastructure is made by possible by subterranean copper cables that are prone to incurring damage due to natural disasters. To cite a concrete example, the 2011 Queensland flood managed to take most of the country off the online grid, as copper cables, which transmit data through electricity, were submerged for a long time.
Fibre optic cables, however, can still function despite exposure to such elements. Unlike copper wires that use electricity for data transmission, fibre optics use light. Thus, signal loss for fibre optic connections is close to nil, allowing uninterrupted access even in the midst of catastrophic event. That is, Australians can expect to have a internet connection when they need it the most.
For internet service providers, the sheer cost of acquiring right-of-way and deploying business resources usually prevent them from expanding their operations. This is the reason why most of them tend to focus their operations in densely-populated cities, as these places are more likely to demonstrate a positive return on investment. Unfortunately, this economic consideration has left much of remote and sparsely-populated areas in the Dark Ages.
However, with the national broadband network, much of these deployment and right-of-way costs were shouldered by the commonwealth government, thus giving ISP an incentive to provide services even to places with low population densities. Moreover, with the use of 4th generation wireless technologies like WiMAX, it is now possible to deliver last-mile but high-quality connections even to the farthest corners of the continent.
While most of Australians enjoy broadband internet access, their actual connection speeds are far slower than ideal. This happens because a lot of consumers have no other choice but to subscribe to lower-tier service packages due to cost considerations. Today, the average Australian internet connection is a measly 7.0 Mbps, 1.7 Mbps lower than the global average.
However, because of unique business model where ISP will compete for rights to sell retail connections, a drastic drop on end-user fees is expected. That is, Australia’s average cost-per-megabit is expected to go down. Because of this, consumer can get a much faster internet connection at the same price – something that’s more fitting for a developed nation like ours.