May 18th, 2020

Peter ("the Guru") Hernandez

General Manager - Technology

Australian Physiotherapy Council


Week 9 and the glue that has kept us all well-balanced has undoubtedly been connection.  But the connection that I will focus on today is perhaps the most critical connection of all; the connection of the internet kind.  You know, the connection that we must have in order to connect.  And if you think I jest, here’s a dare just to shake up your Corona existence.  The only thing I would highly recommend before I lay down the gauntlet, is that you have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones readily at your disposal.  And your time starts now …

Go to the place you keep your internet router and unplug the power cable from it.  And wait.  Nothing more.  Just wait.  No more than 10 seconds I suspect.  And the cacophony that will build from the people you share our household with, demanding an explanation as to why the internet isn’t working, will be more noise than you will have heard in what might feel like a lifetime.

This dare, based on actual events in the Guru household, illustrates the simple fact that there’s a whole generation of people who are completely reliant on having a good internet connection. And that was pre-COVID isolation! Now that we are all in iso and many WFH, there are a whole lot more people whose livelihoods now literally depend on a good working internet connection.

Who remembers the dulcet tones, forever seared into our psyches, of the fingernails-down-the-chalkboard analogue modem, desperately seeking to connect to the internet? Do you remember the speed of that connection – 56 kbps or even 64 kbps? Can you even recall the time it took to download a 520KB image? Was that an entire 60 seconds I hear you ask? How outrageous!!!!  But in yesteryear (read: mid to late 90s) websites were just places where early adopters would wax lyrical about their asinine hobbies, assuming that no one would ever read it.  And they were probably right.  But no more, my friend, no more.

Let’s fast forward to the broadband era with the DSL technology that reigned until about three years ago, which afforded us the ability to do things like video calls and use YouTube to watch videos.  These thrilling days of faster internet speed also ushered in the era of media streaming (like Netflix).

And when we saw what was possible, our connection appetite increased.  There were podcasts to make and video content to produce. There were 4G connections and 5G on our phones, as well as high bandwidth internet connection, like fibre or HFC coax or similar, giving us the ability to download and consume streams at speeds of close to 100 Mbps (which for the uninitiated, is almost 2000 times faster than that 56kbps analogue modem of the late 90s).

The planet then shifted again.  In less than the time it takes you to go through a litre of milk, Corona-verse ushered in a whole new world.  Irrespective of whether you’re an Innovator or a Laggard, we’ve seemingly all become accustomed to Facetime and YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. What about Zoom and Teams? Or online gaming and streaming with Twitch? Downloads nowadays are about 60GB per game. Doesn’t sound a lot when you say it fast.  But consider this, in 1998, a game of that size would have taken 91 days to download.  Now, you’re ready to play in 1.5 hours.

And that’s a good thing (the speed part, not necessarily the game part), because our COVID isolation internet needs are now exponentially increased by the number of people in the house. Everyone is now doing YT, FB, FT, zoom, Insta… PLUS distance education not to mention working from home…

My point is simple, none of the things that we do to get by in May 2020 would be possible without a solid internet connection. Everything in our world now pivots on that truth. So watch while the world makes access to data a necessity, a commodity, a right (just like water, gas and electricity). Watch the shares of connection providers soar during this time of isolation.  And no, this isn’t an insider trading service announcement.

So when Corona-verse is but a distant memory (and fair enough, if you think that might take three generations), our world will need to be primed for even more digital and more connection.  Why? Because it works.  It has proven itself to be a reliable support for humanity in the time of a great crisis and global upheaval.

#connectiontoconnect   #techequalsbridge;     #lifedisrupted;  #covid19;    #letssticktogetherremotely; #techtotherescue

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