I should watch what I write off-the-cuff, since my entry about John Key's daughter nicking wi-fi got tabled in Parliament yesterday (unfortunately there's only a text transcript. After a blink-and-you'd miss it trial, TVNZ no longer archives Question Time on its website. That's a damn shame. If tax payer money is going to be spent discussing this blog, I expect the tax payer-funded Parliamentary webcam footage to be maintained for prosperity too).
But anyhow, I had an interesting off-the-cuff discussion Wednesday lunchtime with some Aussies over with Symantec.
Now, I'm sure the Australian election will probably turn on bigger issues (interest rate panic, strip club attendance etc) but it was interesting the folks from Symantec expressed a professional weakness for Labour leader Kevin Rudd, who's promised an IT industry-friendly $A5 billion broadband spend up if elected (versus John Howard's conservative coalition, which has pledged $A2 billion if re-elected in November).
An interesting substrate of the debate is that Labour wants the federal money to be spent on expanding fibre optic cable networks through cities and suburbs, while Howard's government says the old copper cable phone networks can do the job with a bit of judicious spreading of ADSL2+. Howard's line: we don't need anything faster than DSL; show me an application that needs more broadband.
As PC World Editor for the past three decades, one thing I've seen time and time again is that people always wildly underestimate their future thirst for power. I've lived through all the debates (8MHz or 16Mhz processor? Is it crazy to upgrade to 32MB or RAM?) and broadband is exactly the same deal. Apps like video, video conferencing, virtual environments like Second Life being used for business events - not to mention games, IPTV etc etc will never fly over DSL.
Many of the killer apps for broadband have not even been imaged yet, but the answer to how much bandwidth we'll need in the future is easy: think of a very, very big number, then double it.
Fibre optic cable, supplemented by a turbocharged wireless solutions like UltraWideBand or WiMax, will be the only way to go.