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Published 21-Nov-2002

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  Scratching the World Wide Web  

On Friday November 8th, the Regional Telecommunications Inquiry Report was released. Over the weekend, contrary to all the glowing remarks by the spin-doctors, webDotWiz's connection to the WWW didn't. After months of reasonable service, from the time of the last line repairs, webDotWiz couldn't stay online longer than a few minutes.

A call to the good people at Country Wide first thing on Monday morning resulted in an Internet Assistance Program technician calling later in the day. The connection was tested and a modem command inserted to limit the modem to a speed of 28800. Great. At the usual time of connecting that night, the disconnections resumed. Because the speed was limited one step below webDotWiz's normal connect speed of 31200, all that happened was that the disconnections occurred sooner since there was one less speed value for the modem to step down to as it tried to keep the line open.

Why not try early in the morning, thought webDotWiz. On the Friday morning, with the sun hardly over the treetops, webDotWiz connected. And stayed connected. Everything was back to normal. What had happened to the line or webDotWiz's ISP to bring the connection back to normal? So over the weekend all went well. On Monday morning, another early connection. Until the 7am news began - disconnected! Another try, just in case there was a small glitch. Disconnected. Another try - disconnected.

Returning to the Regional Telecomms Inquiry Report. On reading through the chapter on Internet services, submissions from the public demonstrate how we have gone past seeing the need for an Internet connection as being a fundamental requirement for living in a knowledge era. Having access to the Internet is one thing, but now more people are seeing the need for a quality connection. That is, more and more people are appreciating that a guarenteed minimum speed of 19200 on a dialup line is not adequate for the way in information is being disseminated on the Web in the 21st century.

Let's look at a couple of examples. Imagine you're a software developer, attempting to keep up to date with the latest directions in your area of expertise. One of the biggest areas of software is the provision of web services. Seminar presentations in the form of webcasts are one means of accessing other developers' experiences. When your dialup connection's quality is hardly sufficient for the reliable collection of email, your only choice to keep abreast of the latest developments is to read through the transcripts of these online seminars two weeks or so after the actual event. In the meantime, your competitors have a two-week break on you.

Another example, of a more general nature. We all know that we absorb information through different means - sometimes reading is sufficient, other times audio and video are best. Take a look at sites such as ABC Online or Windowsmedia to see how much we're missing out on because of slow dialup connections. As well, understand that the web developers don't offer audio and video from their sites to just a few people around the world. These sites are there because there are tens of millions of Internet users who can access audio and video online - and enjoy the experience.

There are always comparisons between the rate of development of computing and other industries. One comparison that webDotWiz has heard is between computing and the airline industry. If the latter had developed at the same rate as computers, the Boeing 747 would have been flying in 1917. Oh, this comparison was made in 1981, eighty-four years ago measured in Internet years. webDotWiz can only wonder at what should be after being connected to the Interent for six years. He certainly didn't envisage that more disconnections would be part of computing in the twenty-first century.

When you're wondering which way to turn as a result of not being able to solve disconnection problems, consider this. A technician was inquiring from a customer his distance from the local telephone exchange after expounding on the problems that are possible on telephone lines a few kilometres away from the exchange. When the technician was told that the customer was only about 75 metres away from his exchange, the advice to the customer was that he was probably too close.


  
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