NBN: Build it and they will come

Applications to take advantage of the NBN will follow the network's creation

Australia's National Broadband Network will create new applications and uses for its bandwidth, according to Jim Hassell, head of product development and industry relations at NBN Co.

Hassell told the Broadband Apps Day 2012 conference in Sydney last week that he has met with a large Australian media company which is currently developing an application which aggregates large amounts of content. The company wants to deliver that content to consumers in short bursts which would use 100 megabits per second.

“What they told me was you will find there are a number of media and content companies in the country who are actually working on this,” Hassell said.

“They know what you’re building … and they’re figuring out ways and applications that are actually using the capacity you’re building.”

Hassell said historically, when capacity has been built, users and developers have responded with new applications and developments. For example, applications such as YouTube, Google Earth and Facebook have all been developed in response to technology that exists today.

“So it’s a really interesting period of time; it’s really interesting to be building out this network and be part of it. It’s really interesting to see how people are using it as we actually put that out in education and health and in entertainment,” he said.

Hassell said the NBN will have major implications for health, education and entertainment. For example, children are now using the internet to initiate live link-ups with NASA scientists.

“I can really see that start to expand into the home. You don’t actually have to be in a classroom to be able to see those things,” he said.

Ric Simes, partner at Deloitte Access Economics, also told the event Australia is on the early part of the digital wave but is lagging behind other countries. He also said around half of medium and large sized businesses are allowing employees to bring smartphones and tablets into the workplace to log onto the server, which is prompting a cultural shift.

“That’s something that requires a profound change in culture inside the organisations, but that’s happening. It’s all part of turning work into a much more mobile activity,” he said.

“The digital economy has been coming down the pipeline for a couple of decades – for a long period. But it seems to me, over the last few years, you’ve had a real change of focus in a lot of the effort to improve ease of use for consumers.”

Deena Shiff, group managing director, applications and ventures, at Telstra, told the event the telco is looking to invest in applications that are ready to “rock and roll”, rather than early stage applications.

“We obviously prefer to put in development capital, rather than very, very early stage seed capital, though we will do that on occasion,” she said.

“It is important, when we think about these markets, because they are new, emerging markets, to think about who the players are going to be and what the business models are.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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