Do you remember the good ole’ times when you would have to rely on your nearest encyclopaedia to get any type of research?….. Well neither do I.
I can assure you that any encyclopaedia in my household is currently gathering its 20th annual layer of dust, and that’s all thanks to the introduction of the internet.
Personally, I have always grown up in a home with the internet. Amongst five family members, including two parents and three children, we share ten devices on one data plan. Granted, I hog a rather large portion of that figure, but for the sake of argument, that works out to two devices per family member. These numbers make me question; how has the internet evolved through time?
To help answer my question, I decided to interview the current members of my household including my parents and older sibling.
When questioning my father on his first experience with the internet, he describes to me the term ‘dial-up’. He remembers a time when the internet ran directly through the telephone line, meaning that the home telephone and the internet could never work simultaneously (TechTerms, 2009). “Whenever we wanted to use the internet, we would have to disconnect the phone and whenever we wanted to use the phone, we would have to disconnect the internet”. Such a vicious cycle resulted in many conflicts between: my dad expecting a call, and my older sister wanting to talk on her online MSN chatroom. Her memories of dial-up include the “screeching noises” it made when being connected. She then proceeded to imitate the sound… poorly. But this is what it sounded like:
Through the evolution of internet, out of the 7.3 million households with internet access, only 4% still use the dial-up method and a 93% majority have evolved to bigger and better things – broadband (ABS, 2014). Today, our internet runs on a DSL broadband connection, like 54% of other broadband users. But is the family happy with this service?
“Compared to dial-up, broadband is a god-send, but I still find myself getting frustrated with internet speed”. It was apparent that although internet has improved throughout the years, our usage of it has also increased which can cause congestion on the copper internet wires (TIO, 2011). My sister comments that “iPhones, iPads, Laptops, PCs and TVs all share the wireless internet connection which can really slow down the speed”. This isn’t very surprising considering Australia is falling behind in the internet ranks, being 44th in the world for average internet speed (Donovan, 2015). Irritations of speed illustrate a ‘significant demand for the National Broadband Network (NBN)’ (Nansen et al, 2014, p.23)
“Unfortunately we don’t have access to the NBN network just yet” despite mum’s wishes, but after researching our address on their official website, I found out that ground-works are currently underway in preparation of the NBN. Upon asking whether he would consider signing up for the NBN, dad considers that “It depends on the overall additional cost. Speed is important but affordability is also a priority. It would be interesting to experience it as a trial to see whether it is worth it”. This opinion also correlates with other non-NBN users in Australia (Nansen et al, 2013, p. 27)
The primary research collected through my family has helped me conclude that the internet never used to be a priority in the family home, but through the technological advances in the past decade, there has been an increasing demand to use the internet for both business and leisure purposes and therefore this requires constantly improving efficiency. Can you and your family also relate to these issues?
– Australian Bureau of Statistics (2014), ‘Type of Household Internet Access’, Household Use of Information Technology Australia, abs.com.au, viewed 23/08/2015, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/A0074B22E3150EEECA257C89000E3F7A?opendocument>
– Donovan, S (2015), ‘Internet speeds: Austalia ranks 44th, study cites direction of NBN as part of problem’, ABC News, abc.net.au, viewed 23/08/2015, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-12/australian-internet-speeds-rank-44th-in-the-world/6012570>
– Nansen, B., Arnold, M., Wilken, R. and Gibbs, M. (2012), ‘Broadbanding Brunswick: High- speed Broadband and Household Media Ecologies: A Report on Household Take-up and Adoption of the National Broadband Network in a First Release Site’, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Sydney.
– ProOnCall Technologies (2015), ‘Technological Advances In The Past Decade That Have Changed Social Media’, Pro OnCall Technologies, prooncall.com, viewed 23/08/2015, <https://prooncall.com/technological-advances-past-decade-changed-social-media/>
– TechTerms (2009), ‘Dial-Up’, Internet Terms, techterms.com, viewed 23/08/2015, <http://techterms.com/definition/dialup>
– Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (2011), ‘What affects the speed of an internet connection?’, TIO News, tio.com.au, viewed 23/08/2015, <https://www.tio.com.au/publications/news/what-affects-the-speed-of-an-internet-connection>
– Video: wilterminus (2008), ‘The Sound of Dial-Up Internet’, Youtube, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsNaR6FRuO0>