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14 Apr 2013

The never-ending #NBN story, it's not all about LOL Cats onYoutube...

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The choice of pill is most definitely yours...

Well, we are currently living on acreage and there is nature all around, made more alive and real by the fact that it never seems to stop raining. It is so green, alive and you can literally smell and hear life all around us. The stage is set for some spiritual epiphany about Gaia, although all I can think of are concepts that appear to exist more in science fiction than my immediate surrounds.

In another life I am sure I would have become an engineer or inventor, or perhaps that may come some time in the future. Either way the trick in life I truly believe is “don’t stop learning”. Challenge your gray matter wherever possible, assume there is always someone smarter and more knowledgeable on any given topic than you, and just keep thinking. That - and some personal wish to be a Jedi in the future - is probably why I write software, enjoy coding and am passionate about this collection of computers tied together called the internet.

This internet thingy and the proposal of National Broadband Networks in Australia by differing political parties has clearly been on my mind a lot over the past few months. The recent piss-weak proposal (by the LNP) has galvanised me into action that I wasn’t aware I had. This is the second article I have written in a week about it. Normally my interaction online is very limited, hell I don’t even bother with microphone’s when gaming. (I also swear too much and apparently some take offense to that. Bless their fucking little souls.)

Anyways.. the point of this article.

“The Australia of the near future that I want to live in needs the most state of the art top shelf broadband network ever invented.“

I do a have few reasons why, so will try and explain further with what little information I have gleaned from reading a few articles online and joining some dots together of what could happen. If you are still with me so far, thanks heaps, I would like to explain a couple of tech points before I go further which I will refer back to.

Some tech stuff...:

ALP = FTTH style NBN

LNP = FTTN style NBN

NBN - The ‘National Broadband Network’, for all intents and purposes this means the internet for most people. It’s not actually, it is akin to saying that road outside your house is actually your work place. Unless you actually work on the road, that road merely provides a simple method for you to get from home to your work. The NBN is exactly the same, it allows your data request to go out and fetch information (email, movie, web page etc...) from a computer that is also connected to the NBN as clearly all the information available to you is not residing in your house. (that argument may fail if your house happens to be sheltering the likes of Bill Gates of course, though his ‘webz’ is a whole other story)

FTTN - Fibre to the node, a simple termination point of high speed fibre to a node near your premises. (home or business)

FTTH / FTTP - Fibre to the house or Fibre to the premises. As simple as it sounds, fibre running from the central exchange directly to the premises.

Copper - In relation to talks about the NBN this is the road outside your house. As many experts agree (and have written about with passion already) it is a seriously inferior product to the likes of Fibre Optics when talking about communication. It has worked well for countries all over the world, but just as we no longer use steam trains, the tech has advanced.

Nodes - Essentially they are the train stations for the NBN when switching between a 10 carriage train of bandwidth/speed down to the passenger car delivery to your house. These are an essential aspect of the fibre to the node NLP option and only allow high speeds to a premises when they are within a few Klm’s to the premises. In other words we need a fracking truck load of them across the country (60,000+) that all require service, maintenance and enough power to probably run some of our smaller cities.

Fibre Optics - The so called new kid on the block, and I say ‘so called’ as it appears that researchers at Corning Glass found out how to make it commercially in 1970. More on Corning Glass shortly. Put simply this is undoubtedly the future of our tech, leaving copper so far behind as to appear stone-aged.

Bandwidth / Speed - This has been mentioned a lot recently and is to be referenced in light of the transfer of bandwidth across the NBN (pun intended). Both variants of the NBN talk in terms of 25-50mb from the LNP (pitiful) and 100mbs from the ALP (not bad for a start), the critical difference is actually in the road used.

Copper will get some advances in tech (if heavily invested in) and may get speeds of up to an impressive 300mbs (if you are less than 400 metres to the node).

Let’s look at Fibre for a moment, non-theoretical (boffins did this in 2011) 279,552mb per second per channel. A cable core has hundreds of channels, and cable can have multi-cores, proven data transfer (in 2013) shows 1.1274e+9mbs bandwidth. Oh my freaking gawd, that number would allow you to download most of the 4+billion hours of videos on Youtube in a day. (not very practical in a home sense of course, but stay with me please)

Tech Summary - As I have mentioned on a few blog posts and in my last article, let’s not argue tech. If you still think copper can out class fibre please drop your computer off to Lifeline as you are not a child of this century and have no need for this modern technology. (can you drop your smartphone off there as well for the same principal). I do hope this explains why I don’t particularly want to argue tech with anyone. There is a clear winner in that department.

So with that out of the way, there is still “the future Australia I want to live in” aspect of course which started this rant.

Lets ‘potentially’ fast forward to the year 2026;

The enigmatic 34yr old, Jayden Alexopoulos ( who became ALP leader after selling his GM Crop software patent to Bio-oil/CSIRO ) has just swept his party into power putting an end to what most have described as the decade of the swing voter.

As we have come to know, Jayden’s personal success / wealth has all been attributed to studious work alongside Open Universities. In the early days utilsing the (then progressive) interactive video conferencing with lecturers all around the world, and being able to conduct initial experiments in laboratories with New Zealand and Danish contemporaries. To achieve all of this success at such a young age and from the township Roma (formerly known for producing great Rugby League stars only) is a testimony to governments gone by and their investment in future generations.

The first bill that Prime Minister Alexopoulos is passing this week is to inject funds into the CSIRO/MediAid/Corning/Google joint venture that has been coined the “P(ersonal)+” SIM* . In short this new venture is to commercialise the development of each individual's digital signature from the original simple medical alerts and tracking, to a fully augmented real time experience. It is in part an extension of the mid 2010’s tech “Google Glass”, although now fully realised as the nations last NBN upgrade has made talks of bandwidth speed finally a thing of the past.

Back to reality for a second;

It would be amazing if the above prediction (the tech side) could become a reality, what most people don’t realise is that we are knocking on its door now.

If we look at the average family with 2 kids at High School, it is conceivable that they will already have these devices requiring bandwidth now: 1 Desktop PC, 3 Laptops, 1 or 2 Tablets, 2 to 4 Smartphones, 2 Smart TV’s (ie: they can have internet) and at least 1 Gaming/Entertainment device. I know some families with more than that already (and ones with less of course) although that is still NOT taking into account home office setups. This sort of scenario requires a lot of bandwidth today. Imagine what will be required just for the ‘average’ home shortly.

Some of you would have seen a video or two on Youtube that does the viral pass around every few months called “A Day Made of Glass”. It is produced by Corning Glass Inc. (mentioned above) and is a fascinating series of 4 videos. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL363989F7BCF53A36 Keep in mind the first video in this series was posted in 2011. They all highlight a very connected society, a very personally interactive one, and by the way a large percentage of Australians are using the initial versions of this daily right now. (just use your smartphone, tablet, PC etc... its called Gorilla Glass http://www.corninggorillaglass.com)
 

Working from home the new Telework (telecommuting);

In the past I have mentioned the potential social / environment impacts of less cars on the road (due to more workers being part time / full time at home) although I do not have a clue how to equate that impact into dollar/environmental terms. Logic dictates that if there are less people traveling to high density CBD areas, then by that same logic lower utilisation of public services (transport / parking / emissions etc) will be required.

The reality of this logic though I imagine wouldn’t result in a lowering of numbers traveling, but more likely a plateau on the numbers traveling giving councils some time to evaluate and put in place better mass transport systems, as the general population grows.

With FTTH NBN as the basis, Telework can become a reality for greater number of Australians. For this to work well bandwidth is what we need. With Australians working longer hours, I won’t even go into the aspects of mental health if instead of staying back late in the office you can come home, do dinner with the family, then catch up on work at home after the kids have gone to bed?

Without going into the year 2026, let’s look at what we can utilise today with a FTTH 100mbps down and 40mbps up connection. (so the expensive one at $165+ / month) This is the first time I have mentioned upload (up) speed and the LNP will never mention it due to limitations with copper, but when working remotely you need this as much as down speed.

So pretend I work for a small Travel Agency franchise for a moment “Flights are really cheap” (FARC for short). The head office of FARC is based in Sydney, and they have appointed me to work with their Capricorn Coast based clients (FARCCC thankfully I am not the University implant).

Utilising a VOIP (Voice Over IP) phone, the national office can receive calls, transfer them directly to my VOIP, or switch for regionally based calls to ring direct at my end. The tech on this is fairly cool, and is in use now. At its worst (shitty broadband speeds) you end up sounding like a telemarketer calling from the dark side of the moon whilst in the shower, at its best you would never know the difference. Clearly from a work aspect, you actually need the best option.

The reason that Copper / ADSL2+ speeds are just don't cut it is about to be obvious.....


I take a phone call from Mrs Jones (easily 80+ yrs old and bless her soul, she has a lot of questions today).
Mrs J: Hi Steve, just need to check about the dining arrangements on the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship we are doing next spring.
Me: Yes Mrs Jones, what would you like to know (smiley voice of course, whilst I suspend three booking forms for other clients and open her file)
Mrs J: Well as you know Darryl is on a strict diet and requires.....
 

You can just imagine that call going on for 10+ minutes, then times that by many calls a day from other clients and you have a busy day in the office (at home).

The reality of what my PC is doing teleworking effectively from home in that scenario;

  • 10+ Browser Windows (for research and online program access)
  • 10+ Programs / Files connected and open to the office for centralised file references
  • 1 VOIP high quality line for phone (and perhaps one on hold)
  • Video conferencing for some customers, head office meetings, training etc...
  • Ability to send and receive large data files (passport scans, promotional items) and would often need the above all at the same time.

The software exists now to do the above, it is in use by companies already and could be made available to many more if true FTTH solutions are available to practically everyone. It simply cannot be done competitively via an ADSL / Copper network. Some industries require far more bandwidth (software, architecture, music etc...) and for those the upload speed is almost vital. I mentioned cost for the user at the start of this scenario, its a pittance for a teleworker now isn’t it.

By the way, lets pretend for second. What if I am wheelchair bound due to a bad motorcycle accident, and have a couple of tattoos. In todays economy I am effectively unemployable, in a teleworking economy, I and many other so called “unemployables” are working (not on welfare).

Thanks to Paul Davis for highlighting some government data on this. I am actually happy to see that at a government level Telework is obvious already, and has been progressively identified and worked on since 2005.

Telework References:

http://www.archive.dcita.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/37022/ATAC_REPORT.pdf

http://agimo.gov.au/files/2012/04/Tele-working_Policy_for_ICT_Staff.pdf

http://www.dbcde.gov.au/digital_economy

http://www.telework.gov.au/

Note: Teleworking is not for everyone, and without prudent management of the teleworker it can be a bad experience for both employer and employee. Mind you that is also true of everyone traditionally office bound, if your manager is monkey it ain't much fun either.

If you are still reading this, I had better wrap it up so you can have a lie down;

In summary, our domestic / home use and need for bandwidth is already growing at an exponential rate that is currently ahead of the limited services we have today. Given the advances that are just around the corner, providing a bandwidth capacity for yesterdays need today is nothing short of imbecilic.

Allow Australia to have a future, and demand that your government representative (regardless of party affiliation) to vote with their brain to continue the only NBN solution suitable for this potentially amazing and innovative country and its people.

Cheers
Stephen @noosalife


* Side Note:
SIM - For this article as a reference to a made up anagram being “single integrated microprogram” as a yet to be created program uniquely tailored for a single user. What it could be used for (in this scenario); Personal iris HUD, medical alerts, current medical status, organiser, file access, home security access, interact with personal settings on external devices (Cars, PC, Gym, Restaurant etc...) and a host of other things not yet thought of or invented.
 

Simple References:

Google Glass: http://www.google.com/glass/start/

100+ Devices: http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/building-todays-tech-tomorrow-20130412-2hqt0.html

Copper Speed: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/418646/achieving-fiber-optic-speeds-over-copper-lines/

About Fibre: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_fiber

Corning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corning_Incorporated | http://www.corninggorillaglass.com | http://www.corning.com

P.S. Just found this video on the interwebz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8RhAp-m7bk#! as an Ad for GE that is already highlighting what I am talking about. (you guessed it, its all about needing bandwidth)

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