Photos require bandwidth.I HAVE had the National Broadband Network connected to my Brunswick studio for more than a year, and it certainly has changed the way I work. I no longer deliver images on a CD but use a cloud service such as Dropbox. I use a few photo retouchers and, where previously I would use a courier to shuttle large documents, I now do it all online. I could do all these things with ordinary ADSL, but to do them while streaming high-quality music and watching a Cartier-Bresson documentary on YouTube, I need fibre broadband.
The NBN is a national wholesale data network being built by NBN Co. It will be constructed over 10 years, with the federal government paying most of the $40 billion construction cost. It is estimated to be paid back in dividends by 2034.
The network will gradually replace the ageing copper network. About 93 per cent of the population will receive optical fibre to their premises and the rest will be serviced by a 4G LTE wireless network. Or, if you are really remote, you can access one of two NBN satellites.
Photographers need this bandwidth. Image file sizes have steadily become larger.
Cloud storage is becoming a viable option to back up all this data – it can be far more reliable than a hard drive on your desktop – and companies such as Backblaze are offering unlimited storage for about $4 a month. Transferring these large files around can be frustrating and time-consuming, therefore a steady, fast and reliable connection is invaluable.
The speed of my internet connection is a consistent 100 Mbps to fibre-connected servers. Upload speeds are about 40 Mbps. The quality of the end connection does affect these speeds. I share my studio with several people and we are using an Internode plan with 1000 gigabytes of download data at $165 a month.
One huge difference to ADSL is the dependable connection: in a year it has never had a fault or slowed down.
One of the most important features of the NBN, often missed in the heated political debates about cost and fibre versus wireless, is the network effect. For example, the more people own telephones, the more valuable the telephone is to each user. Over time, the NBN will become more useful with every household and business that connects to it, creating a positive feedback loop.
As a working photographer, this means anyone in Australia could become my digital assistant, or my art director, or a buyer of my images, instantly and effortlessly. The photographer of the future may work in ways we can only imagine.
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