Let's say we do end up with fibre to 90% of the homes in this country. What next?
It's like buying a Ferrari and then saying, "What now? What do we do with this expensive beast?"
Well, we could use it to improve our health industry by doing remote diagnosis.
Oops, already doing that. A friend of mine runs a medical imaging company that is largely based in the bush, and several years ago they were sending CAT scans to Israel and India for diagnosis - until the government said that they would not pay for overseas doctors to diagnose Australian patients. So remote imaging and diagnostics is old news.
How about remote schooling with video conferencing and lots of other high-tech gizmos?
Hmm, already doing that too. I am thinking of doing a course next month where us students will be here in Sydney and the trainer will be in Perth, and all the training will be conducted remotely using computer based educational material piped in from the US.
Then of course you have the small issue of how you provide every school with a local area network capable of supporting real time video, and the video conferencing and electronic whiteboarding and other gizmos that you need to run this sort of operation. Plus the cameras at the other end and so forth. Do we have any money for that?
Ha ha ha ha ha. I visited a school last month, and whilst I was whiling away a few minutes, I visited the library. That's where the kids do computer studies and so on.
Some of the PCs had 5 1/4 inch floppy drives. The monitors were smaller than those you get on the latest iPods, and they were utterly incapable of supporting any form of multimedia. They could run a text editor and not much else.
You might even ask what purpose schools would serve in such a situation, because you no longer need to bring teachers and pupils face to face to inpart knowledge - the little dears might as well stay at home and be educated over the internet. Christ, what a debacle that would be for many families. Who is going to stay at home and ensure they actually do their work?
The entertainment industry seems to have managed to produce special effects or animated movies here without needing fibre to every home.
So it really does come down to pushing movies on demand to the home. Given the cable that Foxtel has already laid, and the advances in entertainment technology that emerge every few years, I'd say by the time Kevin sticks his shovel in the ground to turn the first sod on this cable laying project, we'll already have a means to get movies on demand over the current infrastructure.