Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Australia - Labor wants to give us South Korea's Internet speeds, with North Korea's Internet controls

[abc] There's a joke making the rounds today, and it goes like this: "Labor wants to give us South Korea's Internet speeds, with North Korea's Internet controls."

You want another joke? The Coalition's broadband policy.

For a nation which has historically underinvested in its vital national infrastructure (roads, rail, energy, stop me if you've heard this before) even this seems a bit hard to swallow. Apparently for the Coalition, technological development came to a screeching halt back in 2007. The Coalition wants to bring everyone in Australia up to the same standards that many folks who lived in Australia's major metropolitan areas could purchase back three years ago - presuming, of course, that Telstra hadn't blocked their particular exchange from competitors, leaving them with expensive but low-speed broadband.

Yet the Coalition wants to propagate this failed system. Worse, they want to shower billions of dollars on players already shown to be unethical actors in the private market, in the hope that out of this largesse comes enough broadband to get the digeratti to STFU. And maybe they will, for a few years. But what happens when the next great round of innovations come pouring out of a country which invested in its internet infrastructure, innovations which require ever-high-broadband speeds? Ooops, that's right, we're stuck using the same copper wires we installed a century ago. And copper has limits. You can't send a billion bits a second over a piece of copper wire, because that turns the wire into an antenna, and all those bits just radiate away into the air.

The imperfect politics of broadband

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