In all the hoo-haa about broadband in Australia at the moment, there is an important element that seems to be missing from discussions.
We all want to download material from the internet faster, of course. Movies on demand, video material, pdfs, ebooks… being able to download these much faster would be a boon to productivity. Especially for we here at BetterComms Towers – we only have ADSL1 and cannot get ADSL2.
But as Genevieve Bell pointed out in her ‘Thinker in Residence’ report from 2009, ‘Getting Connected, Staying Connected: Exploring South Australia’s Digital Futures’ [pdf], there is equally the issue of upload speed.
Arguably, Australia is increasingly a productivity economy reliant on the flow of information and knowledge – the faster the information flows, the faster knowledge can be created and the faster, hopefully, the benefit flows.
But for us to be players in the world game, we must not only consume but also produce – we must produce content that others around the world are willing to download, and content compelling enough that others are willing to pay to do so.
Which means we must have upload speeds equivalent to our download speeds (or as near as possible). Already we are slipping further and further behind in our broadband speeds compared to the global stage; according to Akamai, the world’s net traffic reporters, Australia is now down at 50th spot of global broadband speeds.
It is going to be up to us, the public, to keep the pressure on politicians and broadband providers to ensure that upload speeds are closer to download speeds in the future than they currently are (and I can’t think of a reason why the gap is so big at the moment).
Hat tip to @KristinAlford for reminding me of Genevieve’s report