Malcolm Alder: Which industries will be most affected by the rise in broadband speeds over the next decade?

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BY Malcolm Alder, April 2015, CPA Magazine “In The Black”.

As broadband speeds increase, industries all over should prepare for a major transformation.

Fast broadband is often called a business “game changer”. Which games will it change the most over the next decade, as both mobile and fixed-line broadband networks are rolled out and broadband speeds head to 100 mb per second and above?

The list of industries will be determined by two main factors: inherent demand for high-capacity, ubiquitous, fast broadband; and the ability of an industry to exploit that improving capacity.

Sectors with inherent demand typically have some or all of these characteristics:

• bandwidth-intensive images and other content

• very high connection reliability and speed

• wide geographic dispersion

• a high cost to serve via other channels

Such sectors include entertainment, healthcare, scientific research, emergency services, defence, parts of education and government, elements of financial services and sections of retail.

The desire and capability of organisations to take advantage of opportunities arising from improved broadband is even more important. It should not be assumed that the most competitive, profit-driven sectors will lead. Successful incumbency can often be an inhibitor to change: for example, Australia’s major retailers were very slow off the mark going online.

However, those retailers are now investing heavily – and with good reason. There are now literally thousands of online retail product choices from right around the world. What is often more amazing is the speed with which these companies can deliver to the doorstep in Australia – there’s no tyranny of distance anymore.

As bandwidth continues to increase, the quality of customer experience will be enhanced with ever better HD graphics and video and totally interactive design that lets you select on the spot your individual product’s colours, patterns and materials. In fact, if any retailer is brave enough, you could potentially even select your own fruit and vegetables using HD cameras and automated pickers that you control.