Rail paved the way for the first Industrial Revolution, and roads made possible the second. But the third Industrial Revolution will be digital, and it’ll be paved with fibre optics.
Both of Australia’s major political parties have committed to modernising our broadband infrastructure. We have very different opinions on how best to modernise it, but we’re a unity ticket on the objective - if not the strategy.
But recognising our broadband needs modernising is about as difficult as sticking your hand out the window and recognising it’s raining.
Compare us to Hong Kong. It is fifth in the world for average internet connection speed, and second in the world for average peak speed. Australia is 46th and 60th, respectively.
High speed internet is an enabler of a range of other innovations. It’s a precursor, and a precondition. And considering Australia has the lowest level of industry-research collaboration in the OECD, it means Government must find a way to kick-start the engine.
As to how, we look to you. Australia needs to be an island nation in geography, not mentality. We’ve got a lot to learn from our neighbours, including Hong Kong.
A 2015 report by KPMG found the two of the most important factors for enabling technology innovation are talent and capital.
Yes, it’s true that many of our best and brightest are seeking greener pastures overseas. It’s also true that we don’t have the level of available seed funding we want or need.
But these aren’t the problems; they’re the symptoms.
The real problem is cultural.
We won’t develop a world-class tech culture by simply building a world-class broadband network. But we can’t develop one if we don’t.
You can’t have an economy without trade, and you can’t have trade without trade routes. In the digital economy, our trade route is the internet, and speed is everything.
Hong Kong’s already in the fast lane – we hope we’ll meet you there.