Welcome to the collaboration era

The demand and importance on uploads in the post browsing internet era.

The internet rose as a great universal platform for sharing information simply. A paper, a video or an image could be hosted and then browsed/downloaded and be enjoyed from a far. For many of us the idea of browsing online is a common idea. We’ve been given assignment, we’ve researched through online browsing, written assignments and so on. We’ve jumped onto the news and read the daily headlines. We’ve jumped onto Netflix and binged on all kinds of TV series.

To many of us to date this is the reality of the internet; it is asynchronous, that is we receive a majority of the content and contribute little back the other way. Since the adoption of broadband and this typical use, it is no surprise that most connections to the internet are also asynchronous. We often see internet providers offering ADSL 20/1, perhaps cable 100/5 and so on. (download = first number/upload = second number)

A new era of the internet is upon us, the collaboration era.

It’s area where we all contribute somewhat equally to the generation of information and in turn equally share that back and forth. This era is not new, businesses often recognise this need and in turn deploy synchronous connections for their networks. They recognise that information exchange between offices is often significant. In turn there are internet providers and technologies available to supply this type of service.

For the residential consumer however, this trend is now turning. More than ever collaboration platforms offering information exchange of all kinds of media content is common. Voice, video, gaming, photos, home offices and for many of us working from home. We us platforms like MS Teams/Slack/WebEx and so many more, we see WhatsApp and family sharing platforms etc. It’s almost seemingly that any of us anywhere are becoming contributors not only browsers of the internet. We’ve become collaborators.

In a collaboration era the demand on synchronous bandwidth becomes more important.

Australia over the past 10 years has seen an audacious plan to rollout a next generation of internet access to a majority of Australia. It’s called the National Broadband Network (NBN). Generally the designers of the network have understood the need for improved upload speeds. Connections have started to become similar to those synchronous connections used in business. We see plans of 100/40 and 50/20. An admirable improvement and a clear step into the collaboration era.

However, the NBN has announced plans to reduce the upload to one of its platforms NBN Fixed Wireless (https://www.itnews.com.au/news/nbn-co-to-re-launch-fixed-wireless-at-up-to-75-mbps-517015). The plan is to increase download at the expense of upload. For those in the browsing era this is an improvement. For those in the collaboration era this is a significant impact reducing the capacity to collaborate.

Some may argue that the reduction in upload will see little noticeable impact. I think it’s important that we do not overlook at this issue as we see the upload capacity reduce by 50%.

Some might even suggest that the value delivered through regional areas (those of greatest impact of these changes) is not justifiable. However, there is ‘proof in the pudding’. The speculation and known statistics reveal that regional startups in-themselves are becoming a life blood to our nation. (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-02/could-regional-nsw-become-the-home-of-tech-boom/8583076) This article by Gavin Coote articulates so well the reality unfolding before us.

There are many mini Silicon Valleys in lots of parts of New South Wales, and regional New South Wales is certainly a big part of that equation,” Ms Hodgkinson said

Being interactive

The collaboration era is interactive, that means that there are noticeable observations in the way we interact online. Sure, a reduction of this kind will see an upload speeds reduce for tasks such as uploading a video. There is the unseen impact in latency (delay). If we’re in a chat or video conference or for that matter a phone call when we receive (download) quickly we’re involved and immersed in the conversation, when there are delays due to reduce performance of upload then the remote parties in these activities, they receive delayed elements of the experience. It can seem more like using a two-way radio.

In turn, this also means there are delays in requests as simple as a mouse click that may see a delay in the start of a video when congestion is present. The NBN claim that by 2021 there will be 30 odd devices in the home (https://www.nbnco.com.au/blog/connected-homes/on-track-for-over-30-iot-devices-per-aussie-household-by-2021). More devices mean more possibility of congestion in both download and uploads. In the collaboration era the need to send and send and send cannot be overlooked. With many devices in action, one devices upload could easily delay another request to download. Therefore we cannot underestimate this need of upload performance.

Simply, the collaboration era exists and is our future and current reality. I encourage the NBN’s designers to put more thought to this, to recognise this new era and to see Australia shine more than ever in the information age by improving upload performance.  

And, in the mean time we’ll all keep pushing on this demand in this collaboration era. Already through my networks with we see most NBN signups are for the 100/40 plans. Why? They’re collaborators