The guy in the photo is Jerry Watkins, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Design at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne — and I want to slap him.
A Wi-Fi transmitter and receiver is fitted to the local bus. So the bus drives along its normal route, goes through a number of villages, and what it’s doing while it’s stopping at the bus stop in each village, is simply picking up and delivering information via Wi-Fi from publicly-accessible computers in each village… Once it gets back into town, it simply uploads all its stored data onto the Internet… So in this way, the rural community is getting access to a very affordable internet connection, it’s just simply not always on…
It’s services like e-shopping which are proving increasingly popular with these users. So e-shopping is using the bus internet system, and it allows villagers to order essential items and luxury items, which just aren’t available at the village market. And what’s more, the items are often delivered to the village on the very same bus with the Wi-Fi transmitter.
Awesome. But that’s not why I want to slap him.
I want to slap Jerry Watkins because he said daft things about Australia’s proposed National Broadband Network.
It seems that Mr Watkins is rather skeptical about the point of the NBN.
We’re going to have a super-fast broadband network put into 98% of the country. That’s absolutely great for me; I’m looking forward to it. I use the internet a lot and a faster connection in my front room would be fabulous. However, a lot of the things I do, do I need super-fast broadband? Well email doesn’t, banking and bill-paying doesn’t, e-government doesn’t, searching for stuff on Google doesn’t, selling stuff on eBay doesn’t, iTunes doesn’t, Facebook doesn’t, Amazon doesn’t. These are some of the main applications that have been talked about as like the hero apps of internet. They don’t really need fibre to the node or super fast broadband connections.
The kind of things that do, with current technology, might be sharing video on YouTube, or online gaming, or internet protocol TV, like Bit Torrent, even bidding on eBay where you want fast internet connection so your bid gets in quickly at the last minute. But do I actually need a national broadband network to deliver online TV? Hmm.
Jerry, there’s a reason that “searching for stuff on Google”, “selling stuff on eBay”, “Facebook” and “Amazon” don’t “need” 100Mb fibre. That’s because they exist now, but the network doesn’t.
The applications that need near-universal 100Mb broadband don’t exist yet. They can’t exist and won’t exist until the network itself is built.
Only once the network is built will people be able to use it to develop those applications. Some article I linked to once — and I couldn’t be arsed looking for it now — pointed out that those clever Swedish folk could develop Skype only because they had the network and could tinker.
Also, it’s a bit rich to snidely imply that high-speed broadband is only useful for indulgences like gaming and “sharing videos on YouTube” — although videos can also be used for education and commerce, not just passive entertainment.
Also, BitTorrent is not IP TV.
Mr Watkins, I don’t know you. Your work maybe good. But on this occasion you’re suffering from a failure of the imagination, I reckon.
Oh, there’s other good stuff in the program, including the fact that Kenya has more advanced mobile phone-based services than the US, and an interview with ActionAid‘s CEO Archie Law about Project TOTO.