Australia is planning to have Internet in 2017 that’s about as fast as Japan was five years ago – woo hoo! Yes folks, after lagging just behind Turkey, Hungary and the Slovak Republic since the middle-ages, we are finally mustering up everything we’ve got so that by the time I’m about ready to retire, I’ll be able to upload a DVD in under an hour. Awesome!
How much are we investing? 12 month’s beer money. Yes, Australia is pouring less into its broadband future over 8 years than we spend on alcohol in a year. In the end we get a system that might be just fast enough to watch one channel of HD TV in real-time – on a good day.
100mbps is being described in the National Broadband Network plan as “superfast”. A discussion on ABC Radio National recently heard a commentator claim it was “too fast”.
Reminds me of the time I bought a 28.8K modem and all my 14.4K friends told me I was crazy.
Let’s get real – the information age is not going to go away, save for a massive global environmental meltdown (which, ironically, has the best chance of being averted by the rapid expansion of information exchange). If we don’t aim for the absolute limits of our capacity, we are letting ourselves down. We risk becoming nothing more than consumers – not producers or innovators – of the digital realm. Sadly, that seems to be where we could be heading – at the blistering pace of 100 megabits per second.
The limits of information transfer are way up in the terabits/second realm – or beyond. It’s just getting warmed up. So let’s imagine just a few scenarios:
An Australian creates the next ‘YouTube’ or ‘FaceBook’ and can run it from his/her garage, without worrying about being shut down by Telco invoices. Our carbon footprint gets reduced to baby steps as every DVD ever couriered is now emailed and our entire digital existence migrates to the Web. Goodbye hard drives and LANs. Each car in a city fitted out like the Google ‘Street View’ cars, feeding a virtual, real-time model of the city we can all ‘fly’ around. Hologram booths parachute live HD images of ourselves into board meetings – or AA meetings. ‘Live’ gigs, where millions of musicians and singers plug into a musical cloud. Servers mash them into ensembles – in a style chosen by us – to rain back to our venues in real-time onto a video wall. Computers using the Internet more than people, to optimise the world’s resources and finances – thevenusproject.com points the way.
A paper – “The Limits of Human Vision” prepared by Michael F Deering from Sun Microsysems, calculates that we need about 10 billion ‘variable resolution’ pixels per second to saturate our eyes and convince us that what we see is real. Actual (not virtual) reality is coming and the world is not going to wait for us to catch up.
For a real stab at the digital future that is unfolding, I’ll bet my beer money, that 100 megabits per second just won’t cut it.