This article is by Matthew Hatton, a disgruntled consumer and opinionated writer based in Newcastle. You can find him on Twitter at @bernietb. This opinion piece was originally published on his blog, The Rant-O-Matic, and is re-published here with his permission.
opinion Another day, another company announces something and it’s followed by another piece of insanity from the opposition on how it means that we don’t have to build the National Broadband Network anymore. All in all, it’s pretty pathetic.
I, for one, am utterly sick of it. I’m sick of the bullshit. I’m sick of the twisting of the truth. I’m sick of the deliberate, inflammatory disinformation. If you want to criticise something, criticise it on factual shortcomings. Don’t criticise it on your “as real as unicorns” political reasons.
Let’s get one thing very, very clear straight away: Any form of over-the-air mobile broadband is not – in any way – a replacement for a wired network like the NBN. It’s just not. What it is, however, is a fantastic piece of complementary technology that allows consumers and business the chance to expand their horizons beyond what’s available if you’re limited to development on a PC chained to desk.
Of course, the idea of having two similar but different technologies existing at once and providing similar services is completely beyond the seemingly small minds of those opposing such a situation. But then, it’s not like we’d expect them to understand the technical and practical limitations that exist in having this “one or the other but not both” mindset – especially when it comes to why mobile just isn’t the answer.
While Telstra’s (and Optus’s … and maybe even Vodafone’s) LTE (4G) mobile broadband networks will improve bandwidth within the mobile space compared to what we’re used to (especially for those of us trying to use our iPhones on Optus …), it’s not going to come anywhere near improving on the service promised by the Labor Government in the National Broadband Network.
In short, no mobile technology available currently (yeah, LTE is a current technology – it exists in the US already) is designed to deal with people doing the vast majority of their computing on it.
And by “computing” I don’t just mean stalking your ex-girlfriends on Facebook or sending drunken, abusive emails to that guy that pushed you into the girl’s toilets in Year 4. I mean “computing” in the sense of what we’re likely to be using our internet connections for in the next few years – everything from radio to television to telecommuting to uploading your 50,000 photographs from last year’s family Christmas party to phoning your sister who’s currently shacking up with her ski instructor boyfriend somewhere in the Swiss Alps to … f*ck knows, because we haven’t thought of it yet.
Mobile technology just isn’t up to everyone – and it will be everyone if these idiots had their way – doing that, all day, every day. These are the sort of traffic loads that we’re talking about the network being able to handle.
If we were to try and attempt this, the number of mobile phone towers that would need to be erected in order to provide enough coverage to stop the network collapsing under the sheer number of connections being made would be enough to send all those people scared of phone radiation into some sort of catatonic state.
That’s not even mentioning how much the latency that exists on mobile networks would screw with anything data intensive that requires quick responses would pretty much be left pissing into the wind. If you want to drag up the old hospital analogy – do you want your doctor performing surgery from an iPhone? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Mobile broadband just isn’t the answer to replace our current, falling apart copper network. It’s just not. So can we just stop with saying it is?