Australian Digital Quality of Life


Surfshark, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) company located in the British Virgin Islands, has just released a Digital Quality of Life (DQL) report based on extensive research of open-source technology. 

The report examined a total population of more than 5.5 billion people in a group of 65 countries and used factored-in criteria that included internet connectivity speed, affordability, cybersecurity, the availability of data protection laws, e-government services and others, to determine the DQL for those 65 countries. 

They came to the conclusion that Australia is ranked first overall in the DQL. This first place was mainly gained by a very high affordability of mobile internet, comparatively high mobile internet speeds, and a solid level of cybersecurity. Our score could have been higher (we only just squeaked past France) if wasn’t for our underdeveloped broadband infrastructure i.e. an abysmal NBN. So should we be optimistic or disappointed?

Our mobile speed is the sixth fastest in the group and we came first having the cheapest mobile internet cost of the whole group. Our global security rates us as 11th in the group. The challenge is we only managed 42nd in the broadband speed category.

Other research shows that broadband speed is on average five times faster in Taiwan, twice as fast in Latvia and Estonia. Madagascar’s broadband is nearly one and a half times faster than ours.

How have we managed to create such a slow broadband network? Well, there are a number of reasons and we must look, briefly, at the technology available.

There are seven distribution methods that can be employed to deliver NBN’s broadband to the home or business. These involve optical fibre, satellite, fixed wireless and copper wire. Some solutions involve a mixture of these delivery methods. In rural Australia the major options are broadband satellite or fixed wireless and these delivery methods currently will always be slower than in metropolitan or regional Australia.

Fibre to The Premises (FTTP)

The fastest way to transport the internet data from the source (telephone exchange) to your premises is by using optical fibre so that each of the premises has a direct cable link to the source. This is called Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). This was how the NBN rollout was designed and implemented at the start.

Fibre to The Node (FTTN)

NBN has said that FTTP was too expensive and time consuming so a compromise design was conceived which we know as Fibre to the Node (FTTN). A fibre node (digital switch box) is installed at the end of a street or a mid-point - from there the premises are connected by existing copper wire. This system of copper wires is, in many cases, well past its use by date and prone to failure due to the multiple mechanical joints employed.

Isn’t it obvious that our standards are too low? The government has said in the past that the NBN will provide a fast connection for every user. The definition of fast is 25mbs, the speed required to download a Netflix movie.

If your objective is an internet that is good enough to download Netflix, then you ignore what the requirements will be in 10, 20 or 50 year’s time, and you can also overlook the crucial issues of upload speeds that are vital for businesses.

We believe that NBN was wrong in installing FTTN. Our elected officials in the government have accepted 2nd best. Recent reductions in FTTP construction costs and technology improvements means the FTTP should have prevailed in our areas of concentrated population. The Chorus group are successfully rolling out FTTP in New Zealand by embracing the cost and technology improvements.

We have a strong opinion on the need for Australia to be at the forefront of connected economies and we should all continue to strive to create world class solutions wherever we exist in the digital environment.

Find out more about digital and mobile customer experience strategy and design by contacting us at Geronimo

Jeff Mimery