Friday, April 20, 2012

Boldly going where no-one at The Australian dares to go ...

(Above: what's the bet he writes for The Australian?)

It was possibly catching a few minutes of Star Trek - The Next Generation (1987-1994) that got the pond going.

There, as brazen as you like, was bald-headed Captain Jean-Luc Picard waving a tablet about, as if he was way ahead of Steve Jobs. It looked like a tablet, it seemed to work like a tablet, and it got the pond's futurist juices flowing. A few minutes later a nonsensical character called Q dropped into the show and that was the end of that. Quick, channel hop time.

But still, the sight of a tablet was funny, and poignant and bold, as appealing as Patrick Stewart's deeply Shakespearian voice.

Next morning, how to dampen the juices?

There was the relentless lizard Oz, at it again, and the target as usual, as always - except when it's climate science - is the NBN:
It takes quite awhile into the story - if you must you can access it here - before you get to the actual quotes on which it's based, by a very careful Telstra CEO David Thodey:

While he stopped short of backing either major party's broadband model, Mr Thodey said a fibre-to-the-node network would be quicker. "There are different technologies to use; they have pluses and minuses on both sides.

"Definitely fibre to the node is a faster and cheaper deployment. However, in some areas the copper has been there for a long time and there could be issues.

And out of that little juggling act, the lizard Oz weaves a header that proposes that doing it quickly, cheaply and nastily is the way to go.

Well the copper out the front of the pond's house has been there for a long time, and damn straight there are issues. Otherwise we'd be using ADSL and still a Telstra customer, and not bleating at all. But do go on:

"If you have a purist view about an ideal world, fibre to the home is definitely the ultimate solution.

So the lizard Oz, if it had wanted to, could have run the exact same story, only with this header:

NBN the ultimate solution:
Telstra CEO David Thodey

In a thousand ways, on a thousand days, that's how skewing the news to suit the editorial agenda works. Distortions, betrayals, choices, and skewerings of the truth of the matter.

And Thodey knows how to deliver the weasel words that suit The Australian:

"But just like when I'm building anything within Telstra, I have to make a good trade-off in terms of the returns I get," he said.

Uh huh. The days when Telstra built anything useful are long gone, which is why it's known as trade-off city.

Ever wonder why The Australian is so insistent in its hostility to fibre, when, as anyone who has the first clue about it, knows it is the "Ultimate Solution" (David Thodey, Telstra)?

Well there's a clue over in Kansas City, which Google is using as one of its fibre internet testbeds, wiring the city in a way that promises thirty times faster web surfing. And a pilot pay-TV service. (Google TV to launch pilot program in Kansas City).

You see, once you've got decent broadband in place, all current bets are off when it comes to delivering audio-visual content, just as all bets were taken off the table in relation to music delivery some time ago.

If Google does move forward with a pay-TV service, don’t expect it to look anything like existing cable or satellite offerings. With its fiber network, Google has the potential to offer an a la carte service that lets consumers choose the channels they want. Expect on-demand services to be heavily integrated as well, just like Verizon’s FiOS TV service. And you can bet that Google will make it dead simple to watch TV on your computers, smartphones, and tablets. (here)

But it's not just on that level that fibre poses a threat to the establishment. If you start to think about the unknown unknowns when it comes to future apps - as futurists are wont to do - then there are already some known clues.

You see the geeks are already working on ways to virtualise networks, which has implications for the likes of Cisco and current hardware - if you want to geek yourself out, head off to Wired, and Mavericks Invent Future Internet Where Cisco Is Meaningless.

Now you might think that it's just a puff piece for untried notions but it's worth remembering that Google back in 2005 built its own networking hardware because it needed to handle high-bandwidth connections between servers ... and for that they needed fibre.

Which is why you can also read about Google's OpenFlow solution to networks, and the new software-defined network it's implemented in Going With the Flow: Google's Secret Switch to the Next Wave of Networking.

Yes the internet is about to go through another series of transformations and transmutations, and fibre is the mechanism for change.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, the lizard Oz is still mounting the case for maintaining copper, along with Malcolm Turnbull, who deep in his heart knows better.

It would be laughable, if it wasn't pathetic. About as pathetic and timid and wretched as Telstra's approach to the internet has been this past decade.

No wonder Amazon is cranking up moves to establish a warehouse base in Australia. (Amazon eyeing off local warehouse in Australia). As the story notes, e-tailing is close to 20% in the United States, a path perhaps made a little easier by the country's long history of mail order catalogues, and Amazon must be pinching themselves every so often when they contemplate the ripe juicy retail market in Australia, which is why they can consider a physical base, despite the small size of the market.

For a long time retail has been at the forefront of "Ijustdon'tgetit-ism" in Australia but you have to say that on the level of newspapers, The Australian has been at the fore of "Ijustdon'tgetit-ism" when it comes to the way the internet is shape-shifting and changing and growing, with implications for any service or product that can be digitised and delivered, or marketed by digital sellers ...

One way or another, fibre will come to be seen as the ultimate solution, and Australia will get there in the end, even if there are hiccups and deviations along the way.

If you wonder why there are luddites willing to oppose the ultimate solution, and continue the embrace of copper, first of all look to their business model.

If it still involves killing trees, or broadcasting over the ether, or delivering signals to proprietary boxes, you're looking at dead technology walking.

Never mind, after the header and the fuss, how did the lizard Oz end its piece?

Telstra would still get payments for migrating customers from copper to fibre, but if that was accelerated under Mr Turnbull's plans, "then there are different cash flows which could be seen as advantageous to Telstra".

Say what? Customers are going to leave copper? Oh no, say it ain't so.

"I have a contract with NBN Co and with the government that stands," Mr Thodey said ...
He emphasised that he was looking forward to the project.

Say what again? Oh and yes, he's willing to negotiate with Mr. Turnbull in the interests of creating value for shareholders. Which is, as it has been for quite some time, very distinct to the business of creating value for customers and for Australia ...

Now that's something The Australian understands ...

(Below: speaking of futurism, click to enlarge this great Chicago-Tribune piece from 1959, found here).

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and informative article.


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