Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Business

Broad broadband

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Business

The back page of last Saturday’s (11 March 2006) Weekend Financial Review is devoted to the insatiable appetite Australians have for broadband. (The article is paid subscription only.)

Entitled Broadband a BigPond bonanza (Tony Boyd), the article draws parallels with the current “mad rush” for broadband – especially among households – to the growth of mobile phones in the 90s and SMS after 2000.

The growth is almost entirely attributed to Telstra’s ongoing broadband advertising, which smaller ISPs interviewed for the article refer to as the “halo effect” – a natural trickle down of broadband customers, aware of the benefits of the technology, all with a PC in the living room and an intemperate demand for downloading last season’s series of Lost and Desperate Housewives.

In fact, so adoptive are we of broadband that if we continue at the current pace, Australia will be the fastest growing broadband nation in the world.

Ordinarily of course, such an article would be a little ho hum; we have all read of the rise of broadband for at least two years now and it is broadly accepted that its availability on each street corner has significantly fueled online shopping, second-generation websites and VoIP (telephone calls over the Internet) in the past few years

Instead, it is the repeated reference to ADSL2+ in the article that makes it an interesting read.

ADSL2+ is the next generation DSL technology, initially delivering speeds up to 12 times faster than the fastest DSL connections available today and at comparable costs to what we pay for existing DSL services. While this might not sound like a revelation in performance or value, the practical improvements are phenomenal.

Where the DSL we currently experience allows us to watch small news clips and to load the SMH quite reasonably, ADSL2+ delivers speeds capable of carrying transmission grade television. To illustrate in real terms, my current home connection (a middle of the range, 1MB DSL connection) requires a little over an hour to download a reasonably high quality version of a sixty minute television show.

My new 24MB ADSL2+ connection (Internode assures me that it will be successfully provisioned next week, and that Telstra is responsible for my home phone dial tone mysteriously disappearing mid-week) will theoretically complete the same download in around 3 minutes. Three minutes!

Of course, we don’t judge cars merely driving them as fast and as for long as we can: DSL is no different.

The key to ADSL2+ is that is it will deliver a total-sum web experience so compelling – whether searching Google or watching a video trailer –it will kick-start the Web 2.0 web development push.

Whereas organizations could previously be forgiven for holding back their websites in the name of dialup users, organisations will now need to start focusing on delivering web content and interactivity in line with the connection speeds of their customers. It is no different to television stations delivering higher-quality, wide-screen content to a growing audience of plasma televisions and high-definition set top boxes.

Users will migrate to websites that take advantage of their faster connections and appetite for compelling, immediate content. Not only will users demand that web content load faster – a given – but that they receive instant gratification, high levels of self-service and fulfillment and of course, more engaging and interactive experiences.

Whereas previously, an organisation could be forgiven for merely thanking a user for submitting a form and promising to touch base in due course, companies will now need to respond to users as if they were literally standing in the showroom.

Where always-on, DSL replaced the Yellow Pages with Google, ADSL2+ will substantially evolve many of the institutions – banking, shopping, dating, job hunting – we have today; and if the adoption rates of broadband are correct as per the article, it won’t take long at all.