Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
Another week gone already and once again it's time for a dose of online levity and
lunacy to prepare you for the weekend.
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
If you thought the Net was a spooky place you were right. Here's
a novel service
that you can use to scare your friends and relatives by sending
them haunting emails -- even after you're long dead.
Several readers sent me links to
(or others with the same content)
in which it's revealed that the attacks on the World Trade Center last year
were predicted on a US $20 bill. If you think that's interesting, I can
show you how to fold one of NZ's notes to display a picture of the Queen's
bottom -- but I wont.
The Connection Is Only Half The Story
As reported by all the papers and local news sites this morning, yesterday's
budget saw the government announce its intention to have all schools equipped
with a broadband internet connection within 18 months.
This is very good news for all concerned -- since it stands to reason that
if true broadband is available to schools then others within the general
area should then also be able to get their own hi-speed connections.
And what's more, we're not talking about the sloth-like 128Kbps Jetstream Starter
service that Telecom seem keen to pass off as a broadband offering -- we're talking
about true high-speed internet.
This will be a potential bonanza for those companies who are currently
attempting to set up their own broadband networks around the country --
unless, that is, Telecom simply decide to spend up large and offer its
own JetStream service only in those few strategic locations required to
meet the government's RFP.
If that were to happen then the final result could be exactly the opposite
of that which the government is seeking to obtain. Sure, the schools would
have fast Net access, but since we're talking DSL only those within a 4-5Km
radius would also be able to receive broadband access. What's more, if you
add the effect of electric fences and the fact that much of NZ's rural copper
network is in a very sorry state of repair then DSL doesn't look likely
to be widely available.
Of course there's always wireless -- but then again we have to consider that
quite a few small country schools are tucked away in valleys and behind hills --
or simply a very long way from the nearest town or city. Providing these
places with a reliable broadband wireless service will require a series
of relay stations.
For the most remote schools it may be that they won't get the promised
broadband at all -- they'll probably have to make do with a satellite
down feed with dial-up modem based uplink at 33.3Kbps. While this technology
is excellent for general web-browsing and downloading files, it can't really
be used effectively for teleconferencing and many of the other applications
which may be required in an educational environment.
However -- the biggest killer for rural broadband, and something the government
appears to have overlooked, is the cost of bandwidth.
Providing the broadband transport system that connects a school to the Internet
is one thing -- keeping the data flowing is another.
How many small rural schools will be able to afford the levels of traffic they're
likely to find themselves pulling down when several classrooms filled with kids
are all busy surfing the Net, watching streaming video or engaged in other
Perhaps the government is putting the horse before the cart. Maybe they ought
to look into the price of bandwidth and find out whether the allegations which
have been leveled on several occasions (that Telecom is running a lot of dark
fibre just to keep the prices artificially high) are true.
There's little point in giving the schools an on-ramp to the fast-lane on
the information superhighway if they can't afford to put fuel in their
cyber-busses is there?
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