NBN to be 10 times faster than previously predicted

The NBN is now to be 10 times faster than the already predicted superfast 100mbps internet connection many Australians have been looking forward to.

1Gb per second is now the NBN’s estimated top speed, the equivalent of 1,000mbps, or 100,000kbps. With many current Australian ADSL plans having a maximum speed of 1,500kbps, it’s hard to imagine just how fast this optical fibre broadband will be, not to mention what benefits Australian society will reap as a result.

Previously, Australians were told the NBN would provide speeds of 25mbps, 50mbps, or a super-fast 100mbps, but now even this super-quick speed has been superseded. The potential 1Gb per second speed would put Australia at the forefront of global broadband internet nations, whereas now we are listed as 50 on the broadband list.

Currently, South Korea are building their own 1Gb per second speed internet network, with an estimated finish date of 2012. Asian neighbours Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore also have lightning quick broadband speeds, while internet search company, Google, are looking into providing a similar service in the US.

South Korea sits at the top of the worldwide broadband list, with speeds of 100mbps being the norm. After the new network is built for an estimated US$24 billion, South Koreans will be able to download a two-hour feature film in 12 seconds.

The Australian NBN is estimated to cost $43 billion, much more than its South Korean counterpart, but intends to cover 93% of our huge geographical landmass, whereas the Koreans will only have 1Gbps in major cities.

The NBN was officially put ‘online’ today with Prime Minister Julia Gillard heading the ceremony in Tasmania. At the official NBN opening in Hobart, Senator Conroy said: "The announcement by NBN Co to increase capacity on the network shows that fibre technology is truly about future-proofing the nation … they're now confident that they've actually robustly tested it, that the interfaces can sustain the gig."

As expected, the Coalition’s leader Tony Abbott doubts the new claim. "This idea that, hey presto, we are suddenly going to get 10 times the speed from something that isn't even built yet, I find utterly implausible," he said. The Coalition plans to scrap the entire NBN if they win the election on August 21, with their own $6 billion broadband policy based around a mixture of mobile wireless, satellite, copper wire and fibre technologies. The Coalition believes Labor’s NBN is a waste of taxpayer’s money, preferring a privately run network to a nationally-owned one.

If the NBN does go ahead, the main question on consumers’ lips is whether or not the service will be necessary and/or affordable. If priced too high, a low take-up rate could dampen the entire project’s outcome. Communications analyst Paul Budde recently told The Australian: "These speeds will no doubt excite all of the nerds and gamers out there but the reality is that only a small percentage actually needs it at the moment, but for businesses this is absolutely fantastic. It will allow businesses all over the country to use not only high definition video conferencing, but applications we have not even begun to dream of."

It could be time the National Broadband Company told average Australians what a 1Gbps broadband connection will provide them. It will be interesting to see the pricing of 100mbps and 1Gbps connections, and the rate at which the community signs up to them. Educational and health implications, as well as business opportunities, could mean the NBN is Australia’s great leap towards furthering society.