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.

Show Comments