The ISP has one foot in the grave. Or at least once the Federal Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) is rolled out, the term Internet Service Provider (ISP) may become an endangered species, according to the director of the recently-established Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society (IBES).
Long-term Melbourne University telecommunications professor and former Bell Labs employee, Rod Tucker, said with the NBN being based on a future-proof fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network the roll of ISPs will change and along with it the way we refer to them.
“I think we might not be calling them ISPs, they’ll just be service providers. The role of the service providers will change,” he said. “The beauty of the NBN, I think in the way it is being envisaged, is the wholesale platform with the retail services on top of it means there is virtually infinite opportunities for competition and different services to co-exist.
“At the moment you could churn from one ISP to another. The potential is that you could sign up to services on demand when you want them and turn them off and get a different service from a different provider at a different time. There will be much more flexibility.”
Tucker, who successfully set up IBES with $2 million in Victorian Government funding within six weeks of the Federal Government’s announcement of the NBN, also added his voice to the growing throng of people raising concerns the NBN discourse had focussed too much on speeds and consumer access costs.
In recent weeks several high-profile ICT industry figures, including NICTA laboratory director, Dr Terry Percival, and Alcatel-Lucent Asia-Pacific futurologist, Geof Heydon, have gone on record calling for more attention on the potential applications and benefits of the NBN.
For Tucker, the important aspect of the infrastructure project is not getting 100Mb per second to the home or premise, but what you can do with that speed and network access.
“No longer will you necessarily sign up to an ISP and everything is governed by that ISP,” he said. “You will have rich range of opportunities to get different services from different providers simultaneously. It is possible someone might not even want to browse websites on the Internet, so you might not have an ISP, you might sign up to a VoIP service, a video on demand service, a health monitoring service, or something like that.”
A recent survey of seven of the country’s top ICT analysts found all agreed there is no better alternative to a FttP network in the long term. Additionally, the analysts were unanimous in their view the social and economic benefits of the NBN will outweigh the forecast $43 billion cost.