18 March 2010

Cyberspace April 2010

Domains

Would you go to camera.canon? Apparently the first company to take steps to acquire its own top level domain (TLD) is Canon. This means it will be able to have an internet address such as  printers.canon. Why would Canon want to spend a lot of money on acquiring the domain and running a TLD (which isn't cheap)? I suppose this isn't a huge business expense, compared to, say, a national marketing campaign. It probably isn't for brand protection, since the rules and costs around TLDs will probably rule out domain name squatters.

But speaking of brand protection, Colombia's (.co) registrar  will soon loosen its rules limiting names to the third level name space (eg lawsociety.net.co). This means that we could see lawsociety.co one day. Given that typing .co instead of .com is a relatively common mistake, brand protection principles suggest that acquiring a .co domain is going to be a nice money earner for Colombia. The process started on 1 March 2010.

Another change is happening in the .uk name space, as the registrar (Nominet) is considering allowing one and two character third level domains (eg:  uk.co.uk). This will benefit companies well known by two character names such as HP (Hewlett Packard).

Speed

The National Broadband Network (http://www.nbnco.com.au) hasn't been particularly well communicated to the average voter. It will be a wholesale provider of high speed internet connectivity, from whom your average ISP such as iiNet or Internode will purchase services. Most ISPs purchase some or all of their connectivity from wholesalers (eg Reach, Telstra, Vocus) then provide it to consumers. If you happen to live somewhere where the NBN has laid its network, and your ISP buys connectivity from the NBN, then you'll be on the NBN. However, if you live somewhere today where you get ADSL2 or cable then you're in good shape anyway and the NBN may never feature in your life.

The NBN fits in neatly with some proposed legislation that is supposed to be introduced in the Autumn 2010 sittings - fibre to the premises. This legislation requires property developers to either install optical fibre or nothing into new developments. Today the best speed we can get is around 20 Mb/s either over cable or ADSL2+ (which is copper wire). Optical fibre, if run to your house, can be much faster. So if you live in a new estate with fibre, and have an ISP who has linked to the NBN or other wholesalers then you're likely to see 100 Mb/s into your house. While dial up (0.056 Mb/s) and ADSL 1 (1.5 Mb/s) is unusable today, anything over 10 MB is fine. I have a solid 11 Mb/s connection and I cannot saturate that connection without some technical trickery because sites such as YouTube or Microsoft simply do not deliver data at that rate.

The NBN aims to deliver 100 Mb/s to 90% of Australians and 12 Mb/s to the rest, so there is an element of 'future-proofing'.  100 Mb/s will be merely nice to have now, and will be truly useful someday in the future. However, speed isn't everything. A fast network is like having a multi-lane freeway - you can move a lot of cars, but it doesn't change the fact it takes 10 hours to drive from Sydney to Melbourne. Without special hardware the network experience for Perth users when using a Sydney server is not a good one, no matter how fast the network is. This delay (latency) may still pose problems for remote users, no matter their speed.