How the online platform is failing

In Australia at least. Sorry for the misleading title, but how else am I going to get you to read this?

We recently went to the polls to vote for a new prime minister, who both parties had many policies that targeted all ages of interest. Among all the money for families, talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights in Australia, border protection, there was one topic that really appealed to me more than anything. This was fast internet. I know, I know, what a prick for having that as my number one priority, but this is something that would decide where my industry would fall for the next 5, 10, 20 years. Hell, it meant the moves we as online distributors could begin to plan today.

The two sides of government had completely different ideas of what Australia needs. Now I’m not trying to make this biased, and actually trying to make this an important discussion to be heard (besides its lateness), but the fact of the matter is there was a better option than what we got/are getting.

On one side we had the Fibre to the Home/Premise (FttH/P) and the other Fibre to the Node (FttN). The first option gave us super fast internet speeds – something that could rival the likes of America within a few years of upgrades. The latter, and the one that is getting rolled out (after the NBNCo board all roll in their money pits) is well sub par. Okay, okay, biased much?

But lets take a look at this website: How Fast Is The NBN (or how fast it would have been)?

These are the two options we screwed up!

So what this website told us was the FttP option is ridiculously faster. Actually, for us as filmmakers and content producers it meant a huge leap into competition with overseas creators. Don’t believe us? Let’s look at these two GIFs (sorry, GIFs).

I would kill literally and figuratively for these speeds.

Imagine we put out a contest where you could make a 2 minute short, just like Film Riot’s Monday Challenge. And in this submission we were giving away a RED Dragon (I stress this is hypothetical). The stream of clips coming in would be phenomenal, and the time to view all submissions would now take weeks – even on the fastest current speed. With the FttN well that could be taken down to the week, maybe two. And had we got FttP, well our download ability would be limited to the length of all the submissions.

But that’s not very practical is it? As in industry collaboration, downloading YouTube clips is not where our priorities should lie. No, our actual priority should lie with being able to receive videos from other creators for our projects. Just like all studios work, especially for VFX work, the clips are sourced out to companies sometimes in another country and then sent back all lossless, and online. Can I just draw your attention to the above GIF again. Yeah, download your lossless video and upload to YouTube or Vimeo? Fuck that.

On that note of uploading, do you know what my current upload speed is? Max 60kb/s. That’s about average down under, and I am ashamed of it. I used to look at YouTube upload limits and think, “200mB isn’t too bad, I can wait.” But now with what seems like unlimited upload limits, I still think to myself, can I leave my internet hogging the uploads for 1000 years?

Let’s take a look at what could have been:

R E D R U M - (as above)

Sure that GIF is of graphics files, but they too benefit from this speed. This is not limited to my selfish video mindset, no this is something we needed across the creative industry in Australia. When I was a kid, before any real comprehension of the internet and transfer rates, I thought one day we all would have a cable running from a hub in the street directly to America. This would be the future of our entertainment industry where simple Australians had direct access to the American content. This was before YouTube, before online videos were a thing, before the notion of pirating was “the thing”, it was when I though DVDs were stupid because they were expensive (and still are).

But that’s just two aspects which don’t benefit Australians as casual consumers. Why would the average Australian want faster internet speeds?

You’ve heard of NetFlix right? You know YouTube does rentals right? iTunes movie rentals and downloads? Amazon instant access? All these things (expect iTunes) are not available in Australia. Not just because deals on distribution haven’t been made, but because who would want their product to fail because of something out of their control – and users don’t care why it isn’t working, they’ll just blame your service.

I want NetFlix – I really do – I think it will shake a market that hasn’t been challenged in a while. I think it will push Australian creators to push the creative boundary or be replaced by another medium. We recently shut off all analogue television signal in Melbourne, and now have 16 channels of pure rubbish. I’m sorry, but it’s really dismal. But this is another issue concerning the board itself – but the reason our overpriced cable company is still alive is because there’s no challenger, and the only legal way to get US or British content. Hence the pirating spike of recent times in Australia.

We need a National Broadband Network in Australia. Our entertainment industry needs it, our tourism sector should realise tourists want to sometimes feel like home too, and the employment sector would realise that if we could be on par with other countries in the ability to send and receive large files many of us wouldn’t be seeking work overseas. Even just think of the ability to have a bloody video conference with your doctor. Surgery advice from another state.

Just give us something worth the effort to support you, or else you’re going to die a slow and painful death while the world around us flourishes. And this is why the (Australian) online platform is failing.

This post was originally written last week, but it took that long to upload the video to convert into a GIF, and then download said GIFs, to only re-upload them. #firstworldproblems

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