I lived in Japan a few years back. Broadband there is uncapped, very fast and bundled with a phone and TV service for about $100 per month, it seemed cheap to me.

Still, to my surprise, I met plenty of people who didn’t need internet at home. Or they couldn’t afford it. Working people. Men. Women. Married. Singles. No internet at home.

“But it’s so cheap!” I shouted after coming from 512K expensive speeds in Australia 2006.  “Yes, but I don’t need it, I have my cell phone if I need.” was their reply.  Or “I use it at work if I need the speed and download.”

I was in IT at the time and needed the net at home for work and staying in touch with family overseas.  I needed wanted the Pay TV for the English channels.  I needed the net and liked Pay TV but the super high speed connection speed… it was just a bonus really.  Still, many seemed to be OK without it at all in the home. Saving their YEN for other things like clothing and food and using their mobile devices for net access.

I recently ditched my fixed line and ADSL at home. I bought a Samsung Galaxy tab with Telstra and use the Wifi HotSpot app to provide net usage to the home. $59 for 7GB per month and we take it everywhere. Saved ourselves over $600 per year and just cut back on a couple of browsing and downloading habits.  And now, I’m OK without the massive speed. So would about 80%-90% of the people I know…. and I’m talking 100’s.

Which leads to the question in the title. When the  Australian Government spends billions of dollars to roll out an Optic Fibre based network, will we use it or feel we need it?  I mean really NEED it?

Do I need Pay TV? Or am I happy with the large number of free to air digital channels available to me now? I mean there is satellite too right?

Do I need insane download speeds? Or can I wait a couple more minutes?

Do I need to see the doctor on webcam? Because last I looked, I could do that now if I wanted. Speeds are fast enough… and I don’t do it.

Will my children be part of a learning environment where it’s really needed? I mean what can’t they do now that’s of great value?

Do I need VOIP a phone system on a giant high speed system? Mobile phones remain our choice of voice communication in Australia and you’ll have a hard time convincing us to do otherwise. Besides, VOIP run fine through ADSL.

In my opinion

Should the network be upgraded? Yes, create a sustainable upgrade plan for the next 3 years, and revisit it after that to take into account trends and technology.

Should it be at a huge cost to the population as is currently planned? No, I think it’s overkill. While everyone is talking ‘Green’, ‘Sustainable’, ‘Simple’, ‘Cutting back’ and ‘Future proofing’, the Government is ripping up the pavement to lay a highly volatile form of cabling that may never be used by more than 20% of the population. The cost to the tax payer is incredible. For now, just lay fibre into those places that need it most; Hospitals, Business Hubs, Schools.

I’m just not convinced that across this vast land, optic fibre is the best solution. I would be spending the money on wireless technology and infrastructure. Employing the best minds in the world to develop packet streaming and compression systems that will increase speed and function to the masses and their mobile devices. Perhaps license and sell that technology off to other nations. Seriously, I mean even now, how many are reading this on a mobile device? Did you need fibre to to view it? How many of us spend hours per day on sites that are crippled by ADSL or Wireless internet speeds?

Open to comments and thoughts. BTW, if you’re over 21, still living with your parents, still  in your pajamas, you’re a massive movie thief and online gamer, you can get a life and keep your comments to yourself. 🙂