Will the NBN be fast enough?

GoldenAbout 5 years ago I saw the future, or at least one part of it, and it was step 1 in convincing me we needed an ultra high speed National Broadband Network.

As a customer of Telstra’s Enterprise and Government business (TE&G) I was at a breakfast gathering where I saw David Thodey and Hugh Bradlow have a conference call using holographic projection. David joked to the assembled crowd of CIO’s that he had actually stolen bandwidth from all our corporate networks in order to do this but those networks would be restored before we got back to our respective offices for work. It was a gimmick but at some point in the not so distant future something like this will become readily available. If you doubt me just look at how OTT video calling, like Skype, has pushed the boundary for consumers in the last 5 years.

Step 2 in my conversion occurred when I renovated my house, had an unfortunate incident with a builder accidentally cutting the lead-in cable to my house and spent several weeks looking at the insides of Telstra pits in my street. I cannot easily describe the cabling mess I encountered but it convinced me that it was time to fix the “last mile” cabling.

The final step came when I was watching a movie on my TV (streamed live from Telstra’s BigPond service) and a warning came up that my Internet speed was too slow. I did a quick check and my ADSL sync speed was around 19,800kbps, I then checked speedtest.net and it gave me a solid 15Mbps. I was not even streaming an HD movie and BigPond was concerned my Internet was too slow!

Then I had a quick think about my home Internet usage. With 2 teenagers watching video online plus my wife and I now converted to watching streamed movies, plus the potential for UltraHD @ both 4k and 8k resolutions (so many more pixels than HD) I can see a potential for up to 48 times my current bandwidth could be needed within the next 5 to 10 years (this is based on 16 x pixels and 3 x IP TV streams) . That comes to roughly 48 x 20Mbps = 960Mbps … pretty close to 1Gbps!

Hmmm, and what about wireless I thought? Actually I don’t really have any good argument why the “last mile” can’t be wireless except that if we start to rely on our Internet connection then we might also be convinced to have both a primary and a backup connection, at which point both fixed and wireless in parallel might be an option!

So, I believe that Australia needs 3 things from the NBN Co:
1. Remediation of the “last mile” that ensures we have future expansion capacity
2. Speeds of between 100Mbps and 1Gbps now
3. Capability to exceed gigabit speeds in the near future (thinking 2020 …)

Hmmmm, now I wonder if the NBN will be fast enough for us in 50 years time? I’m thinking holographic movies here …..

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