IIA demands faster broadband to more Australians by 2010

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) believes approximately 80 per cent of the Australian population should have access to downstream speeds of 10Mbps, with 67 per cent having access to speeds above 24Mbps by the end of the decade.

In a report released on Monday, the IIA believes these speeds should be sufficient to support a mix of simultaneous, or near-simultaneous, services including VoIP, gaming, multichannel streaming and video on demand, music, legitimate P2P file sharing and browsing.

While upstream speeds are expected to remain relatively static for most home users, business and other high end users should have the option of full symmetrical services, with upstream speeds equivalent to downstream capabilities.

High end users such as research organisation's advanced digital media houses, corporates and early adopters are likely to also demand and pay for access to ultra high bandwidth.

While regional services will naturally be somewhat slower than those in metropolitan areas, services should nonetheless be sufficient to allow basic banking, VoIP and streaming applications. The IIA expects that the government may need to provide some assistance in regional areas for this target to be fully realised.

Mobile connectivity is expected to grow in quality and use in the near future. The prevalence of mobile phones, PDAs and other handheld devices will fuel the need for mobile broadband that supports high-resolution video streaming, video-enabled gaming, on-demand or live newscasts, webcam reception and video conferencing.

"Having targets give us something to aim for," said Peter Coroneos, chief executive of IIA. "We need to have a good idea of where other countries will be, and where we will be, in four years time."

Due to our geographical area and sparse population, it will be very difficult for Australia to achieve the level of broadband service in leading economies like Korea and Japan. Instead, the IIA targets plan on bringing to Australia the same technology and services as those available to countries like the United States and Canada.

Falling short of the 2010 targets could have dire consequences on Australia's economy. The absence of a well-connected information network is needed for scientific research, education and health industries.

"If we fail to achieve these targets, then I think we will fail as an economy and as a society," Coroneos said.

Although the report so intently outlines Australia's goals for the next four years, it does not go on to describe how we might achieve them. Instead, it has been intended as a discussion piece for the government, the industry and the public, to provide a direction for the future of broadband.

"It was not designed to be a how-to document," said Coroneos, explaining that reaching these outcomes is really a matter for policy makers and the industry.

The report is accessible here.

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Liz Tay

PC World
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