If you were on the internet yesterday, you may have noticed, between all the bullshit being flung by politicians both here in Australia and abroad, the CEO of NBN Co said something mighty interesting. And by “mighty interesting” I mean crazily idiotic, and that’s while I’m still trying to keep my language decent. I doubt I’ll keep that up for long.
For the unaware, NBN Co is the company overseeing the National Broadband Network, a project intended to improve Australia’s internet infrastructure by replacing the ageing copper network with fibre optic cables either up to your premises, building basement or nearby node. In a nutshell, it’s supposed to eventually make the average Australian’s internet connection faster, but for some reason has been a huge topic of debate over exactly how much faster it should be, as though prolonging the need to ever go through anything like this again isn’t the objective answer, but I digress.
The crazily idiotic statement from NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow occurred during the company’s half-yearly results announcement this past Thursday. Morrow was asked about the possibility of NBN Co offering internet speeds faster than 100 megabits-per-second, the current top tier speed offered by NBN Co, and he replied that he thought there wasn’t much demand for those speeds as data in other countries where consumers had access to such speeds weren’t really utilising them. Now that’s not the stupid part, in fact that’s an interesting point of data, that the average individual consumer’s internet usage doesn’t necessarily call for Usain Bolt-like speeds. Fair enough, cool story Bill.
No, the insane, moronic, absolutely bonkers statement was when Morrow said, as quoted by Kotaku, that even if NBN Co were to offer Australians speeds of 1 gigabit-per-second and “even if we offered it for free, we see the evidence around the world that they wouldn’t use it anyway.”
Morrow went on to say that NBN Co is trialling 1Gbps speeds with some providers, but it’s currently so expensive that no one is offering it to consumers as no one would likely pay for it. Another cool story Bill, but a moot point since you specified we wouldn’t make use of such speeds even if they were offered for free.
There’s so much stupidity in Morrow’s assertion that I’m not sure where to start unpacking it. Oh wait, yes I am, how about we look at what exactly he could mean by “using” a high speed connection. I assume it would stem from looking at how much data an average person is downloading/uploading and seeing it’s an amount that could be achieved on a slower network. “Oh, the average person isn’t constantly uploading and downloading huge files from Dropbox, all they really do is check their email, post to Facebook and watch YouTube? They can do that on a 10Mbps connection, easy!”
It’s true, they can. But I hate to break it to you Bill Morrow, but just because my total downloads for any given month isn’t through the fucking roof doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be benefiting from that fast connection.
Sure, I can watch high definition TV shows on Netflix on my 10Mbps ADSL2+ connection, but it takes a minute or so to buffer to that quality and I also couldn’t do it to pass the time while downloading something else. And how many people have multiple TVs so different people can watch different things? Whether Foxtel likes it or not, TV is moving away from aerial transmission and over to online streaming, so once you have several people watching different 1080p, or even 4K, movies we’ll need that extra speed. And when two family members are watching different things AND someone wants to watch YouTube in their room AND another person is checking their FaceTweets? They’ll certainly be using their faster speeds then.
On the gaming front, my current connection is certainly capable of downloading that 41.3GB update to Halo 5 I encountered last year, but that 1Gbps speed would mean I could do it in five minutes instead of 10 hours. All those times I hop on for a quick session of Overwatch and run into a several gigabyte sized patch would mean it would be downloaded and ready to play pretty much immediately instead of in half an hour. Same amount of data, but a shitload more convenient. Would I be using my faster internet speeds then, Bill?
But NBN executives and politicians probably couldn’t give two shits about the quality of peoples’ entertainment, aside from the one time Pauline Hanson was outraged to hear Australians were losing to overseas players thanks to our slow connections, so let’s talk about what they allegedly seem to care about: innovation. You know where a lot of innovation is happening? Out on the internet! The Coalition government keeps banging on about the “age of innovation”, where they want people creating their own businesses and making Australia a key player in the global economy. But without these internet speeds we supposedly would never use, people are limited in their ability to innovate.
Literally any job idea that involves uploading/downloading large amounts of data would use those speeds. We don’t upload many videos here on LoadScreen because it takes too goddamn long to do so on our connections. Any Australians wanting to start a web series, be the next big YouTube sensation or live-stream anything, either for entertainment or business, will struggle to meet demand. These people may not represent the average consumer, but they’d certainly make great use of the speeds Bill Morrow seems to think no one would use.
But enough bashing on the mind-numbing, fucking ridiculous, bullshit buffoonery of Bill Morrow’s statement, I instead want to issue him a challenge. You don’t think anyone would use a free 1Gbps internet connection? Prove it, give me one. I’ll use it. I’ll bring it to its knees.
I’ll happily never have to wait long to play a game I just bought, whether it be a digital purchase or a retail copy with heaps of patches. I’ll catch up on my Netflix queue while I wait for a lengthy, 1080p video to upload to our YouTube channel. Heck, I’ll upgrade my Netflix subscription to be able to use four independent screens and stream four 4K videos at once. I won’t even be watching any of them, because I’ll be too busy live-streaming my experience of re-downloading my entire Steam library.
Come on Bill, do it. Make my day.