Survey shows caution over wireless broadband

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Survey shows caution over wireless broadband

Australian Internet users are growing more realistic about the limits of mobile broadband, according to this year's annual survey of Internet enthusiasts at Whirlpool.

The survey of 20,000 registered respondents, conducted between December 31, 2008 and February 1, 2009, found that fewer customers now consider wireless broadband a viable alternative to their fixed lines at home.

Last year, 43.3 per cent of respondents said they would consider wireless broadband to be a 'serious option' for home Internet access.

This year the number drops to 36.8 per cent.

"Consumers are now more educated about the limitations of wireless broadband, whereas a few years ago they might not have actually tried it," says Whirlpool founder Simon Wright.

"Also, historically wireless broadband has meant [nomadic] services like Unwired; now it means little USB dongles they buy from the likes of Telstra and Vodafone. These are marketed as a different type of product; and the limitations of 3G are generally better known."

Wireless broadband is now hitting speeds that have some analysts suggesting it might make a suitable replacement for fixed networks in some areas.

But even Telstra has admitted that wireless broadband suffers performance issues when too many users connect within a given cell, making the technology unsuitable for fixed replacement.

The Whirlpool report provides rich detail around the reliability and performance of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but also delves into issues around the National Broadband Network and Senator Conroy's proposed Internet Filtering trial.

In total, some 77 per cent of Internet users said they rated the Australian Government's handling of the National Broadband Network as somewhere between 'poor' and 'abysmal'.

The survey also found that 90 per cent of Internet users would choose to opt-out of any Internet filter.

Further - as a result, Senator Conroy is even less popular among Internet users than former Liberal communications leader Richard Alston.

"Alston was just plain ignorant," says Wright, "whereas Conroy is not just wilfully ignorant, he is also placing politics ahead of good policy."

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