Waiting for Broadband

I’m home from work this morning, waiting for a Telstra technician to come and activate the phone line in my new flat so that my ISP can switch my broadband over. It’s about six weeks since I got approved to move here, and almost four weeks since I moved in.

This has got me thinking a fair bit about Australian broadband, and about how people complain about it, and why I think they’ve been complaining about the wrong thing, and how it’s probably too late, but anyway:

The problem with Australian internet is not that it’s slow, it’s that it’s not a utility.

Australian complaints about the speed of the internet fall into two categories:

  • Robot surgeons on the Moon, and
  • I wanna pirate that rapey dragon show faster

Neither of these are a good argument for the NBN, because only a few places are going to need some kind of massive network connectivity to do gee-whiz immersive futuristic stuff that isn’t actually happening yet, and because complaining that you can’t watch Game of Thrones intersects with another big tedious argument, the one about copyright and how unfair it is that Australia doesn’t get everything at the same time as America. And if you wanted a show that would make broadband seem like a compelling mainstream issue, GoT is exactly the opposite of that show.

What we should have got out of the NBN, and what I would love right now, is for network access to become like power, water and gas: so we don’t have to layer it on top of an analogue voice network and deal with two levels of call centres. My flat is hard to identify in databases because it has a couple of different addresses, which is the main reason for the delay. I had this issue with the power, too, but the way I resolved that was to walk out to the backyard and write down the number on the meter.

I should have been able to do something that simple so that my kids could do a bunch of boring but necessary stuff, like read their email and access their school’s website, immediately after we moved in.

Anyone who is still talking about ‘futureproofing’ in this context needs to be put in a box and left out for the council cleanup. Our network infrastructure isn’t even presentproof.


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