I recently moved from Australia to Japan to undertake the CIO role at insurer, Metlife and noticed that 'the land of the rising sun' is ranked number 5 in the world for internet speeds with 82.9Mbps as its peak speed.
But back home in 'the land down under', despite a whopping $54 billion investment in the national broadband network (NBN), Aussies are only enjoying broadband speeds of 39.3Mbps. This puts us at 60th place in the global rankings.
But that’s not the end of the bad news. Australia has slower internet than many other countries in the region, with even Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, NZ and Malaysia having superior speeds.
After NBN goes in
So will Australia offer the fastest broadband speeds when the NBN is completed? It is planned that NBN will support speeds from 12Mbps to 100Mbps. So again, it doesn’t appear that we will be elevated into the top echelon. The reality is that Australian broadband users will be serviced at four different speed tiers.
At the top 100Mbps speed, you are looking at north of $100 per month charges. Sadly this is around Y3500 in Japan for the roughly the same fibre option. In short, we are paying more than double what I’m charged in Japan.
Here come the submarine cables
It is fascinating to consider that we have been focused on the NBN, but in essence that is only part of the overall picture. These submarine cables that connect us to the United States really makes the internet what we know and love.
In Australia, this connection is named Southern Cross which is partially owned by Spark, Singtel-Optus and Verizon. This undersea cable will be upgraded in January 2017 with additional connection adding 20Tbps to our network to the US. The good news is that this is 5 times our current capacity.
But Australia has been trumped again by Japan with a massive new internet cable connecting the US and Japan at 60Tbps. In this case, Google has made an investment putting in place the highest capacity submarine cable.
Japan has now a faster and cheaper access to the internet. It runs fast locally and with the new submarine capacity, this will translate into a faster internet for global access. The overall internet experience will be faster, whatever content you are accessing.
The NBN is a clearly a faster road than what we had, but we are playing ‘catchup’ and our slowness will work against us in terms of international competitiveness.
David Gee is new statutory executive officer, senior VP, and CIO at Metlife Insurance in Japan. He has more than 18 years' experience as a CIO and was previously CIO at CUA where he completed a core banking transformation. Connect with David on LinkedIn.