Broadband Technologies in Australia 1993–98: Developing the Social Shaping of Technology Approach
By John Andrews
The development and deployment of technologies for delivering broadband services to homes in Australia are investigated using the ‘social shaping of technology’ (SST) approach. The focus is on the period from 1993 to 1998 when there were five main technological options for delivering residential broadband services: ‘hybrid’ fibre coaxial (HFC) cable; direct broadcast satellite (DBS); multipoint microwave distribution systems (MDS); ‘Integrated Services Digital Network’ (ISDN); and ‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’ (ADSL). The main broadband services planned for delivery to homes over this period were pay television and fast Internet access. A sequence of snapshots of sociotechnical relationships at critical times during the study period, termed ‘sociotechnological configurations’, is used to track the evolutionary pathway of the broadband technologies. The mapping technique assists in identifying key features and explaining the driving factors of the pathway, including why HFC cable emerged as the predominant technology, and two competing HFC cable networks were rolled out in capital cities at an additional cost of over $2 billion when a single network would have had ample capacity.
page: 169 – 188
Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation
Volume 24, Issue 2