Which NBN Should We Have?

Is that the question?
Who remembers the days when dial-up modems struggled to load a single web page? As a Cloud Services Provider it seems that the current focus of NBN debate is out of place. It is not a question of which one is faster rather what can or will we do with it? In the early days of IT a faster network was always desirable but often not achievable without spending a King’s ransom. This led to the now challenged belief that we should all work whilst tied to the office.
In those early days did applications exist, albeit games or business systems, that were designed with network speed in mind? Broadly no, they all assumed you were hardwired to a desktop in the office. With the advent of the mobile smartphone, tablet and/or cut down notebook, application developers cannot afford to make that assumption. Indeed most software companies nowadays offer solutions as a smartphone app (for example Ebay, Dropbox, Google, MYOB and SalesForce) or simply available via the web. How do these services work on the move via mobile technology?

The number one thing our customers love about the cloud is the mobility and capability it provides across multiple devices whilst on the move – so how does this change with either NBN solution? The answer is, “Hardly”.

The one thing that is currently being overlooked in this debate is that it is the humble mobile device that most people want to work and play from. The virtual office - be it on the train, plane, ferry, bus, car, bicycle or walking the CBD’s of the world - this represents the future. In the past how often have we said: “I’m out and about and away from my computer right now but I’ll get back to you as soon as I’m back in the office.”

This mobility, capability and productivity is what our customers want and what the Cloud delivers. Who would simply prefer to connect to the service provider of their choice and work productively without having to install any hardware i.e. a modem or router and still be totally connected wherever they roamed? 

Last year, mobile services reached 30.2 million, or about four mobile services for every three Australians. With the growth in demand for mobility, focus should move to how the NBN can enhance mobile services. Current mobile networks (3G or 4G) and fixed networks (like the NBN) should not be competing but complementary technologies. It is the mobile service that is being overlooked here as the fastest speed of the network is the fastest speed of the slowest link. Currently our mobile service is that slowest link.

3G mobile networks remind me of those early days watching the slow crawl of a page loading when you need it to be instant. The latest “go-faster” 4G service is available from all of our major Telcos which, in recent tests, shows significant improvement but well short of either current home/office or NBN network capability.   

With the growth in demand for mobility and the resulting benefits in productivity we need a focus on how the NBN can enhance the mobile service as it is these we would all like to be using.  

So the question should not be which NBN we should have, but what do we want. Access to total mobility and capability or do we still want to be tied to the home or office?  Ask Gen Y and Z  – they’ll tell you!

By Rob Faint