Internet access in Australia compared to other first world countries isn’t the greatest, with large areas of the country with no or very limited internet access. Not only is internet limited in many places around the county which limits peoples access online, it is also one of the most overpriced services, which in my opinion is being charged as if it were a novelty item, yet with everything else indicating it these days to be a necessity. This overprice is the second limitation to people accessing the internet, even if living in Sydney where internet connectivity is great the price may in fact restrict a household from being networked.
So, with the proposed National Broadband Network rollout or NBN claiming to provide broadband access across the nation and provide opportunity for homes, business, education, health care, entertainment and connectivity to loved ones will these issues be resolved? What will really change in the home once the NBN rollout has taken place?
After talking with my Dad who is living in Orange, a small country city 4 hours inland from Sydney, we established our internet is ok for Australian standards. He lives with my 18 year old brother and me when I’m home from Uni and all three of us will constantly be on the internet. At the moment at home, there is one home computer, one TV turned computer, a Wii, PlayStation 3, two iPads, three iPhones, three Laptops and one iPod connected to the internet. So between all of those devices, my brother who is continually playing World of Warcraft or playing the Playsation online against other player around the country, my dad who will do some of his work at home, emails and pay bills online and then me who is always downloading music and movies, streams just about TV show online and Skypes my friends in America and Mexico, we find that our biggest restriction is the speed of our internet. This is usually due to not having enough gigabytes per month which ultimately comes down to it being too expensive to get more any more.
When asked about the NBN and if it will change our home and lifestyle dad explained that it wouldn’t for him. The NBN hasn’t really reached Orange yet, and only a few of the newly developed suburbs in the north have it, and a small village a few Kilometres out of Orange but that’s it. We both agreed in that for us and our family we won’t actually do anything differently in our home when we do get it, but perhaps just do those things faster. My brothers game won’t lag, my downloads will be faster and TV streaming will be smoother and me and my brother won’t have to yell at each other when one of us has slowed the other ones intent using down.
His idea of home at the moment is very internet orientated, with a lot of all of our time spent on it. He suggested that maybe because that is the case currently, we don’t think the NBN will affect us too much because it won’t allow us to do anything new that we can’t already do.
He did however think it will improve the lives of others in our town.
For some of our family friends living out of town on properties who find their internet can get down to dial up speeds at times, the NBN will be a great improvement for their households.
He also believes it will give smaller businesses in town the opportunity to expand beyond just Orange which resonates with Melissa Gregg and Jason Wilson’s Willunga Connects Report that explains that Increased speeds enables new businesses to develop from areas outside Australia’s main cities whilst also enabling businesses to communicate and advertise much more efficiently and productively (Gregg & Wilson 2011).
The other aspect for us in particular is that the NBN may also address the issue of overpriced internet which effects access to many households including my own, with an expected savings on $3800 per year for households by 2020 according to the ABC (Ross, 2013).
In Australia I do believe faster internet is needed, although I do not believe the NBN will alter what my family or myself use the internet for but instead improve what we’re already doing.
Gregg & Wilson, M & J2011, Willunga Connects: a baseline study of pre-NBN Willunga, Government of South Australia: Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology, accessed 23 August 2014, <http://www.dfeest.sa.gov.au/Portals/1/content/Digital%20technology/pdfs/Willunga%20Connects%20-%20November%202011.pdf>.
Ross, M 2013, ‘Household will be $3,800 richer by 2020 thanks to speedy broadband like NBN: report, ABC News, 4 September, viewed 23 August 2014, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-04/report-shows-households-will-be-3800-better-off-under-nbn/4932976>.