Monday, 5 October 2009

being wireless

It's a long weekend in Canberra this weekend, and in true holiday weekend tradition it's raining. So instead of going for a serious walk or getting on with the gardening we went for a long wet drive out into the country to find a cafe for a nice coffee and cake.

Our journey took us through Gundaroo, which we've always liked, and once even thought about buying a house in, when suddenly the penny dropped - with wireless a wireless data connection you really don't need infrastructure, ie with a skype in number to let people who only have landlines call you and a decent enough data plan you can live anywhere within range of a 3G service - you really have cut the cord, just like these irritating adds for unwired where the woman cuts the phone cable and drops her old phone in the bin, and indeed just like our asian floor installers have done.

Sociologically this is quite interesting - in Canberra where there are a lot of people who rent, not to mention a large floating student population the idea of a box you take with, plug into the wall wherever you lay your head, and there's your phone, your internet, your life, why would you bother with a fixed connection?

An there are other implications. Just as in Morocco where the cellphone network has effectively replaced the fixed wire network - greater reliability, greater coverage, greater penetration, one could imagine that in country Australia wireless broadband being a sensible alternative to stringing fibre optic cabling round country towns.

However, once one gets to the cities you need FTTH just becuase of the population densities - and it means you can defray your costs by renting spare bandwidth to the cable tv companies - in just the same way as in France you get adverts for phone+tv+internet packages for EUR40 a month.

However this cuts the other way - wireless broadband will never have the bandwidth to deliver these additional services, meaning the bush is stuck either with the free to air digital channels or the overpriced football obsessesed satellite services.

So wireless is a valuable stopgap for lots of reasons. What it isn't is a replacement to FTTH infrastructure, which leaves the problem of how you get fibre out to remote towns ...

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