As far as some people are concerned, they’ve got something that has worked for the last ten years, so why fix what isn’t broken - at least in their minds.
Some years ago, I agreed to modernise the IT solution at accountancy practice. The need to modernise hadn’t come about due to curiosity about new tech and a desire to evaluate if it’d make life easier and more productive.
The brief that omitted many of the points a system integrator needs to know for a successful migration. Before long, the modernisation turned into a nightmare mission - the gap between the old system and the new was huge.
I won’t go into the ‘fun’ I had trying to migrate data from a locked file format with its root in the late eighties, but I still remember some things that I wasn’t able to convince the client to upgrade.
The practice used the internet to send and receive data to and from government agencies like the Companies Office. I thought that was a great start to boosting productivity, but then I learnt the process took place overnight over a modem connection.
Night time transfers were necessary because the practice had to use the modem connection for other things during the day. If the transfers failed - and they often did - it was a matter of restarting it the next night. Clients had to wait for things to be filed and processed, just as they had to hold on for email responses from the practice - the messages were downloaded and replied to once a week.
At the time, DSL had come down in price and an entry-level plan was entirely affordable for the practice. I tried to explain the benefits of an always-on connection that was much faster than dial-up: increased productivity and happier clients. Another benefit, for them and me was that I could even do maintenance remotely if they used DSL.
All my arguments were in vain. The practice felt dial-up was enough and soon afterwards signed up for a two-year fixed contract that cost almost as much as DSL. A telco rep had convinced the practice that DSL was too fast for its needs and threw in some reduced-cost toll calling to sweeten the deal - even though most practice’s clients were in the same city.
Even when you point out obvious benefits, there’s still an odd fear of fast broadband around. One person I spoke to said moving to a fast connection would be like getting a Ferrari and who needs that?
That person had a new-ish Intel laptop with a powerful Core processor and a fast, cavernous SATA hard disk. That’s a ‘Ferrari’, too. So why would this person not opt for a broadband ‘Ferrari’ instead of the Yugo copper broadband most of us have and will continue to have until the UFB comes into play six years from now.
Much of the fear of the fast comes from successful marketing propaganda campaigns that tells us broadband is a limited resource where each bit has to be doled at steep charges.
Marketing people don’t tell customers that technological advances have made it much cheaper to deliver much faster broadband to everyone, and in greater volumes. This so much the case that artificial constraints for speeds and data caps have been introduced to create segmentation.
The newspeak term for this is ”product and service differentiation„ which means that instead of getting broadband connections that go as fast as the technology allows, the brakes are put on it to different degrees. The more you pay, the less the brake is applied.
Remember, we’re talking about the same product here, in different guises. Same bits and bytes, same network pipe and gear, but on one plan, they cost more than on another.
In other words, you have a perverse situation in which money and effort is spent on slowing down broadband to create ”entry level„ products. I would imagine that the cost of slowing down broadband service is recouped elsewhere, such as from already expensive premium plans.
The notion that artificial constraints are necessary is my biggest disappointment with the government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband project. It’s been done to encourage private companies to invest by creating a market similar to today’s, through the artificial segmentation of broadband.
Distorting the market by creating slow 30/10Mbit/s plans to be used in five years’ time when the world’s infrastructure is capable of 1Gbit/s today is denying the obvious, which is that we’re in the Age of Plenty - when it comes to broadband at least.
This market-constructed vision is not just blinkered but also one that shows a lack of understanding of technology. Sadly, we’re paying for it, and we didn’t have any real say in the process either. Welcome to your UFB.