PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

ADSL ahoy: better late than never?

Nov 2002

I am one of the lucky chosen few with access to ADSL for thirty quid a month. As one of the unlucky put-upon few that used to pay £12k PA for a 64k leased line at the dawn of the commercial internet in the UK, I look at the ADSL stats: 256kBit downstream, 128k upstream and don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  One cannot deny that this is progress, but it’s come 3 years after Tony promised in a fit of political blather of monumental blandness that the UK would be the best place on earth “in which to conduct e-commerce”. But by now, most dotcom dreams have become nightmares, most telcos and cable companies and media businesses have headed south for the next decade, so it all seems too little, too late.

Or is it? 

The idea that that a website alone was going to revolution anything now seems a little improbable – something that only seriously inexperienced businesspeople like bankers and politicians might have been able to get worked-up about. And technologists who had been perpetually starved of resources in a commercial world hitherto made prosaic by bean counters, leapt eagerly at the chance for their fifteen minutes of fame and all the money they could spend.  And once again, those who did as little as possible to survive and kept their heads down, emerged from the wreckage of others’ visions and dreams, ahead of the game. Those who never spent £12k PA on a feeble 64k internet connection have saved a load of money and can now reap the benefits set into action by those who did. Life’s a bitch, eh?

Whatever we may think of and its friends, just about everyone has email, most business have websites, many individuals have websites. So there has been a revolution going on in spite of the gloom and doom, and there is still a lot that can be creatively done with that ADSL connection.

Some things have changed for ever: magazine advertising and publishing in general has yet to work out a new and relevant role in the wired world. Exhibitions have lost their lustre as all the information on all the products on the planet are now on the web. Exhibitions are even losing their attraction as a grand “jobs marketplace” as companies (at last) work out that they are paying £000s to send staff to what are, in effect, 3 days job interviews to be poached by their competitors on the next stand.

The idea that a website intelligently attached to an existing business that has experience in tackling the real world issues of marketing, stock management, despatch, customer support is obvious. The widespread availability of an “always on” internet connection transforms the process through which email and other internet “push” information can at last operate.

It may not seem like such a big deal, but the difference between dialup and ADSL is the difference between a floppy disk and hard drive.  So I’ll put up with my ADSL service going wrong regularly once every 3 or 4 weeks “for no apparent reason”, it is the start of the future.