Opinion: Land of the long slow broadband

Be thankful you’re not in New Zealand online says our expat writer

Australians do love banter with New Zealanders, whether its sports, accents and what celebrities can be claimed as their own.

What isn’t usually discussed across the Tasman is the sensitive topic of broadband speeds. Pros and cons of the National Broadband Network (NBN) are widely commented on TechWorld with most people saying they need more speed - probably because they’re trying to download one gigabyte movies.

But is broadband in the big green and brown continent really that bad compared with the land of the long white cloud? Right now I’m with TPG, which everyone seems to have a bad story about, but downloading iTunes content has been sweet as, if you excuse the Kiwi slang.

Movies, depending on size, can take about an hour on a good day and two or more on heavy use days.

"But that’s in Sydney with all the no-fat, low-carb, latte-swirling maniac drivers. Come and try the Internet in the REAL Australia!" I hear you cry in the heartland and outback.

Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to try a similar experiment but I’m off to Warrnambool in Victoria soon so wish me luck.

Back in New Zealand where, due to copper wire still being replaced with fibre, about half of the citizens in rural areas are still on dialup or using a satellite broadband provider.

My parents were on dialup until 2007 (thanks Telecom) so it wasn’t much fun coming home in summer and wanting to check email. Surfing at the beach, rather than on the Internet, was more fun anyway.

Upon moving to Auckland, I negotiated a deal for my flat share (house share to Australians) through a company called Slingshot.

High speed? Err, yes until the end of month when we sometimes went over the data cap, than it was back to dialup-style speeds. And this was Auckland city. Home of slightly-less-manic drivers, but still Sydney-like in many ways.

So, while we wait for the NBN and order another skim milk latte or boutique beer - spare a thought for your mates across the ditch.

Disclaimer: Hamish Barwick is an expat Kiwi (with an Australian grandmother) who boarded a Qantas flight one day in Auckland bound for Sydney vowing never to return. His day job is senior journalist for Computerworld Australia.

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