MY wife and I are just back from a two-week holiday in two of Hawaii’s beautiful islands, Oahu, home of Honolulu, and Maui – and we couldn’t believe the astonishing on-line speeds we enjoyed on our iPads.
Newspaper downloads of 30 megs in just a few seconds, virtual real-time connections when talking on social media and emails were a wonderful enhancement to our holiday experience.
Why? Well the resorts where we stayed provided download speeds of 100Mb/s. Compared to the 2.9Mb/s we have on our ADSL2+ connection at home, this was a revelation.
As a radio presenter, one of the regular issues that is raised with me on air is the quality of our online lives, in particular, the performance, or arrival of, the much-vaunted National Broadband Network (NBN).
And as we saw the news from home that executives from NBN Co had admitted that the possibility of such high-speed connections here are but a pipedream, we did a little homework.
What on-line speeds are available to the average American punter? Here are two examples:
- Hawaiian Telcom offers 50 Mb/s for $US24.95 ($33.09) a month on a 12-month contract.
- Oceanic Time Warner Cable went further, offering a 300 Mb/s monthly package that could allow for the provision of one landline, two mobiles and all TV (free-to-air and cable) for $US89.99 ($119.33).
Both plans offered this with unlimited downloads. In Canberra, our monthly phone and 2.9 Mb/s broadband package with download limits is more than $100.
Even allowing for the economies of scale (more than 300 million people compared to our 24 million or so in a land almost as large as the continental US), the likelihood that we will NEVER see anything like these speeds, NBN or no NBN, leaves us all in a very desolate, digital landscape.
We have just re-elected a government that has overseen the majority of the NBN build. Whoever is at fault is not the point; we will not prosper as a nation unless we can compete internationally with at least half the broadband speeds as our major trading partners.
Trying to buy shares or do business? Good luck! Never mind not having sufficient digital grunt to watch a movie without repeated buffering!
So there you have it. While not so naïve as to expect the blame game to finish anytime soon, any suggestions to our political leaders to improve our online situation would be greatly appreciated!
Chris Mac is a presenter on 2CC and 2CA.