Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Honey, I swallowed the webcam.

One of the 'features' of the election campaign here has been the National Broadband network. Apparently this will give us fibre directly to the home for over 90% of premises, with speeds of up to 1Gbps. Actually most households would still only get the 100Mbps previously offered. I'm still on 512kbps. Hardly the fast and the furious, but it suffices.

Sucking on a 1 Gbps pipe would allow an average download of a couple of terabytes a month. My current usage is about 5 Gig per month, just a few percent of that. I have occasionally watched a Doctor Who on ABC's iView, which seems to be about 250-300Mb for an hour of TV. Three hours per Gig makes it about 4 months of content in a terabyte, so even if my whole family each watched a different channel 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we'd still be under a terabyte. Not seeing the need yet.

Anyway, giving the consumers such a massive pipe to guzzle from means moving the bottleneck upstream. Partly to the pipes from the US (and to a lesser extent, Europe and Asia), and partly to the content hosters here. The latter will mostly be the Television companies, since video is the bandwidth hog and they've got the biggest store of 'watchable' video. I say 'watchable' advisedly. A lot of it is completely dire, but at least you would be able to watch "Hey, Hey it's Saturday" rather than on Wednesday when it is broadcast. Why it is broadcast on Wednesday, or why you'd want to watch it any day of the week is a different question.

If you've read up on Exadata, the key there was to removing bottlenecks. All of them. Everywhere. The only way that works with the NBN is really peer-to-peer, which is often gaming and file-sharing. But one application for the NBN will be doctor consultation. Fire up the web-cam and get your rash looked at by a professional rather than just anyone on ChatRoulette. Though I don't go to the doctor much, the kids do and often with throat or ear infections. I don't think they show up too well on a webcam but maybe we will get those tiny fibre-optic cameras I see on the medical dramas. Should make Skype a bit more intimate. Actually my Dad got a shock when the Skype on his computer fired up when he wasn't expecting it and I don't think he'd want it any more intimate.

The old lady who lives next to us doesn't have a computer. We could let her use ours, but since I've got kids, I'm quite adamant that the computer (and especially anything with a webcam) is out in the open, and I don't think she'd be comfortable with that. Nor would we to be frank.

Still the only other use for that sort of bandwidth that I could think of was a big network of CCTV cameras on each corner. But you couldn't imagine a Labo(u)r government installing anything like that, could you ?


Anonymous said...

>>"If you've read up on Exadata, the key there was to removing bottlenecks. All of them."

Well, removing I/O bottlenecks, I'd say.



Noons said...

Akshally, the Coalition's rejection of the NBN lost them my vote.
Been waiting for cable at my door for 5 years, with all sorts of excuses by the telcos as to why not.
I live in a new area with all cabling underground, so it'd have been dirt easy for them to install f/o cable at building time.
Now, they'll have to dig up the ground to do it. Meanwhile, I have to watch satellite cable, which goes out as soon as there is a cloud in the sky. And use ADSL2 for "broadband"...

There is a lot more about the NBN than just media. For example: it is entirely feasible for white collar workers to tele-commute if there is a f/o cable to support their workplace via vpn tunnelling.
And it is incomparably cheaper to provide tele-commuting infra-structure than more heavy rail or freeways. Inevitably, we'll have to move in that direction: we cannot afford to be building transport forever.

Bring the mountain to Muhamed, rather than the other way around.

That is only possible with an NBN.

Without it, we're forever condemned to building more roads and rail and that is a LOT more expensive.

SydOracle said...

I'd love to see a decent telecommuting initiative from either major party (at State or Federal level). Wouldn't help me a great deal as I don't have a room at home I could easily work in, but maybe I could work in a local(ish) office.