Rural eHealth would benefit more from fibre NBN than wireless: Allocate

Software vendor expects more data intensive tasks to be held back by wireless version of the NBN

Having wireless for eHealth in rural area is not as preferable as having the fibre NBN, according to Allocate Software A/NZ general manager, Peter Croft.

Croft made the observation during at a recent IT healthcare media forum in Sydney during a discussion about the NBN and whether fixed wireless in rural areas is limited compared to fibre.

As for how wireless will affect the online eHealth experience, Croft said it depends on how heavily accessed a database is.

“The number of calls to the database will affect what is presented for the user,” he said.

Croft said the performance of the Cloud-based software may be affected if there is a lot of database access, such as updating rosters and finalising shifts.

“If you have a very simple request, like applying for leave, the calls to the database are fewer,” he said.

“However, if you are talking about a database call that needs to work through a dozen or so rules, that may take longer to be carried out.”

Croft said Allocate Software will not be the only company to have its software delivered to a remote location via the NBN, so performance may be further compromised as more providers operate over the network.

While a healthcare facility using a web based app making numerous database calls and running reports may work well over wireless, Croft said teleconferencing may not, as it is more data intensive due to the nature of HD video.

Despite some misgivings, Croft admits that a large part of commonality between the two approaches to the NBN is that there will be fibre based backhaul, with “large thick pipes that go into regional centres.”

“Faster is always better, so of course fibre would be the preferred choice for connectivity,” he said.

Remote connection

One of the advantages of the NBN, according to Croft, is better quality broadband services being made available remotely.

“For smaller providers, particularly for those in rural areas, the only option they have at the moment is for on-premise or self-implemented software for their own use,” he said.

“What Cloud does is enable that capability to be made available anywhere.”

As such, smaller organisations, such as remote healthcare facilities, will get access to the same capability as metropolitan providers can through the Cloud instead of using an on-premise solution.

"The Cloud is capable of providing these remote facilities with access to the same software are metropolitan hospitals have, but how well this setup works is entirely dependant on the performance of the online infrastructure," he said.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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1 Comment

iHope

1

Peter Croft is correct about the importance of higher speeds for rural and regional broadband infrastructure.

eHealth support services have greater significance in remote locations due to challenges related to the lack of transport and care options available in comparison to urban locations.

The critical issue is data upload speeds as fixed wireless connectivity is generally, and certainly by definition in the documented NBNCo definitions to date, an asynchronous construct with an inherent upload bottleneck.

The documented projected maximum upload speeds on offer so far, are only 5Mbps for fixed wireless, satellite and for that matter, probably for the Coalition's FTTN alternative plan. All useless for eHealth and equivalent services.

5Mbps is woefully inadequate, and will be the Achilles Heel of all digital commerce, eHealth and many more potentially beneficial applications of future Internet connectivity. 5Mbps for upload is only 1% of the outbound speed that an optical Fibre FTTP connection can provide from December this year when NBNCo will offer upload speeds of 500Mbps.

Therefore fixed wireless solutions MUST be re-imagined and fully implemented as Synchronous data service constructs. 25Mbps/25Mbps upload and download in full duplex is the minimum target that NBNCo should offer over fixed wireless for rural and regional services.

Even the ACMA recognise the need to provide fast, ubiquitous and symmetrical mobile broadband connectivity to consumers and industries going forward, therefore fixed wireless has those same requirements at least, and in my opinion requires them more.

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