Data trumps speed in broadband battleground

Rodney Gedda

Rodney Gedda is the former deputy editor of CIO and former editor of Techworld.

Amid all the uncertainty surrounding the NBN, Internode has started the week with a bang announcing it would join the growing ranks of ISPs offering a terabyte of data for download every month on select plans. Is it being greedy to want this level of data over fibre to the home? Last month iiNet announced a terabyte of data on one of its NBN plans (still only available in Tassie) so if the NBN goes ahead these sort of quotas will be available, but what’s interesting about this new “terabyte war” is how quickly the market for data can change without significant infrastructure build-outs.

See this PC World article for a good summary of what’s available as of the end of August.

The NBN has awakened a new appetite for speed, but in the meantime the ISPs have upped the data anti over their existing ADSL connections.

In an ideal world it would be good to have high-speed, high-data Internet services, however, if we had a choice of one or the other, which would it be?

High speed access without data is lame, high data allowances without high speed access is… tolerable.

At 24Mbps, ADSL2+ is not 100Mbps fibre, but combined with high download allowances at least it gives consumers the option of getting the most out of whatever content they are interested in like music, movies, Web TV, etc.

The terabyte push is also another stark reminder of how polarised the broadband reach is in Australia.

Many rural areas can’t get wired (non-satellite) broadband at all, yet people in metropolitan areas will find a way to complain about how 24Mbps ADSL2+ with 1TB of download quota every month is “holding Australia back”.

In many ways it’s a shame the race between ISPs centres around speeds and feeds and not coverage.

Telstra is the only one that can (and does) gloat about the coverage of its broadband services, particularly with its Next G mobile network.

In fairness to Internode is has made a bit of noise about how it’s expanding the reach of its services, including in the business market.

With a regional market supposedly starved of broadband services, you’d think the ISPs would be clamouring to offer more services.

Sure it’s easy enough to blame Telstra for not doing the same, but when we see the kind of tooth and nail competition among the ISPs around broadband data allowances, you get the feeling they are ignoring horizontal market opportunities outside the cities.

Let’s hope the NBN or the coalition’s broadband policy levels the playing field for good.

As today’s offerings indicate, services on top of any type of broadband infrastructure are more exciting than the raw access speed.

With a terabyte of data at our disposal, let’s aim for smarter broadband use and not get caught up in the speed hype.

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.

Comments (2)



Bandwidth vs Speed . . . . . . They are the same thing

You can't even get the article title correct, so it isn't surprising that most of your arguments are lame as well.

The cost to an ISP of installing infrastructure in rural areas versus the return in income do not make sense. It is much cheaper and a faster return on investment to offer the easiest expansion to consumers and that is in download limits.

If ISP's could easily offer speed improvements I'm sure they would, but they can't. So by saying look they keep upping the download limit therefor we don't need faster speeds is just massively false synergy.

You mention ADSL2+ maximum speed of 24Mbps, yet on Internodes web site they show that nearly a quarter of their customers only connect at between 5-10Mbps. Which is less than half of the theoretical maximum. 58.9% of all of their customers are getting less than 15Mbps.

This doesn't even take into account the suburbs within 15km of Adelaide that still cannot get ADSL2+. I am sure that you would agree, that does not constitute as regional Australia.

Wireless is not the answer. It is a solution to niche need, which is mobility. Latency is high and user numbers affect speed. Not to mention the infrastructure cost of installing more towers for coverage which would still be back hauled via fibre.

To say that research would improve wireless speeds is silly as well, because research is also improving fibre speeds. Yet fibre is starting at a guaranteed 1Gb bandwidth versus Telstra's new wireless maxing at 42Mbps with limited users on the tower. How anyone can compare the two is beyond me. Or even compare it to ADSL 2+.

"Lets not get caught up in the speed hype". Maybe you should send a letter to Intel and AMD because they can stop all that spending on R&D for new chips and just release older ones. I'm sure they have warehouses full of them.




Its easy to up a download limit compared to rolling out infrastructure to regional Australia.. It doesn't really cost the ISP that much.. I dont really see is "data limit vs coverage" as an issue that you can compare, the only similarity is that you're talking about broadband in both points. Other than that its an apples and grapes argument..

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