Just to put this into perspective, Australian business pays about 60 per cent more than U.S. companies do for broadband services but gets 10 times less performance. Big local carrier Telstra might drone on about the tyranny of distance but given most business is located in geographically constrained metropolitan areas this is a very tired argument. The tyranny of distance was part of Comms Minister Helen Coonan’s spin when she congratulated Australia on its “performance” recently. “This is an outstanding achievement considering the particular challenges of providing telecommunications access at fair prices over a vast continent with a small population,” Senator Coonan blethered. But Coonan failed to point out that over most of inland Australia – from Mount Victoria west of Sydney and for some 5000km across to the coast of WA – you get 56kb dial-up modem access only. There are some regional bright spots but Australia’s local carriers really only provide half-decent Internet speeds in Australia’s half dozen big cities. Then there’s the supposed high performance of ADSL 2 Plus – performance we’ve praised in these pages before. It’s true 24Mbps would be good if users were actually getting it but they’re not. Most aren’t getting anywhere near the promised download speeds and even if they are, they don’t get best performance all the time because ISPs are overselling the service then choking users during peak periods. And to make matters worse some wondrous end users expect integrators to manage zero attentuation across networks ‘supported’ by the half dozen ISPs they’ve managed to collect over the past 10 years. David Forman, chairman of the Competitive Carriers Coalition, recently said that Australia should be ashamed of its performance. “The countries we are keeping company with (including Mexico and Poland) are not the countries we should want to be associated with (in terms of broadbandperformance). “This is a problem that has been 20 years in the making and it’s only going to get worse…. If we measure ourselves in isolation then yes, prices are falling, but they’re not falling fast enough [compared with the rest of the developed world] and we’re not catching up,” he told ZDNet Australia.Compared with Australia, Japan has a download speed of 100Mbps – that’s the equivalent of Fast Ethernet and users there pay about 2 per cent more than businesses pay in Australia. Performance like Japan’s makes effective use of remote video monitoring solutions a reality instead of little more than wishful thinking. Making matters worse is the fact the problems relate to infrastructure investment and with a complete impasse reached on that investment between Telstra and the Federal Government improvements are many years away. The Australian security industry has no active lobby group pushing for improvements in broadband using levers like a significant potential increaseto national security – but it should have.