I dare say that the internet connection in my home has become the most important bill to be paid each month. Although, I do suppose the electricity to run the router/ devices is also kind of a necessity. We are quite a digitally connected family, each with multiple devices constantly accessing the far reaches of the internet every day (apparently there are about 20 currently linked to our router).
However, the ways in which we use the internet are each very different. I would say my mother’s internet habit are rather typical for someone of her generation in that its primary use is for connecting with her family overseas, keeping up with news, and looking at YouTube videos to try and remain ‘hip and cool’.
My younger sister is always either connected to social media through her phone, or is in bed binge watching TV shows like that goddamn ‘Pretty Little Liars’. I’m actually staring to worry about her neck posture as her head is always tilted towards a screen. But I would venture to guess her internet use would be comparable to anyone else her age.
For my father, probably the most knowledgeable about technology in the house, our internet connection functions as a means for both work and relaxing. His study is home to the almighty router and is the central hub for all tech in our family. Thanks to his interest in computers and the internet, we have been fortunate enough to not still be on terrible plans or dial-up like I’ve read in some other people’s posts.
Being the tech-wiz he is, all problems with the internet are directly straight at Dad. The connection dropped out – “DAAAAAAAAAAD!” The lights are flashing but there’s no signal – “DAAAAAAAAAAD!” My computer is running slow – “DAAAAAAAAAAD!” Now obviously these problem are in no way his fault, but it’s always nice to be able to throw them onto someone else.
He started his career in computing back in the early 80’s and has work closely with the industry since, so I thought it would be a good idea to see his take on how the internet and our interactions with it have changed over time.
He spoke about societies move from “once picking up the phone and having ‘dial-tone’, to the concept now being called ‘web-tone’.” Just like it was expected for people to have a landline to be contacted on in their home, we are now expected to be contactable via the internet.
“Everyone now has the internet, everyone is expected to be on the internet. If your modem goes out, it’s a massive drama. You expect always to be connected when you pick up any of your devices, whether it’s a laptop or mobile phone or PlayStation.”
“We’ve gone beyond the phone now, beyond ‘dial-tone’ it’s not important anymore because everyone uses their mobile phone or they use the internet to communicate with each other. So the landline phone is now becoming pretty well redundant. The only thing you use the phone line for now is your ADSL-2 connection… to the internet.”
Dad was able to watch the internet from its very beginning, and he said that while we have seen some much expansion in terms of accessibility, there are still aspects that have changed very little. The next phase for Australia is the National Broadband Network or NBN, and term that many should be familiar with, and definitely sick of hearing by now.
While it is promising a faster and more reliable internet service for Australians, the stories coming from current users are often mixed. There are many users having troubles with high user levels around peak times. So I checked my area (Menai) and it’s like we have been put in this no NBN wasteland. According to the NBN site, there aren’t even any plans for when preparation will commence. Now, we don’t typically experience any issues with our current internet service in terms of drop-outs or lagging connections, but the promise of faster speeds gives me such great hope for the future… Maybe.
Here are a few little statistics from the ABS about Australia’s internet usage if you’re feeling extra curious.