Without more investment in high-speed fibre broadband, Australia's competitiveness will suffer, according to academic Internet service provider Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet).
"AARNet is calling on the Federal government to continue to invest in our network to ensure that all Australian researchers have equitable access to high speed Internet," Chris Hancock, CEO of the not-for-profit service provider said in a statement.
AARNet's comments come as part of its submission to the National Innovation Review, launched on 22 January by Federal Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr.
Currently, AARNet provides high speed connections to Australian universities, varying between 155Mbps to 10Gbps. However, Hancock said that the current supply of bandwidth won't be able to keep up with the future demands of higher education and research.
"We have a graph coming out in our annual report that shows typical YouTube traffic in any one day, and it peaks about 250Mbps. What's significant about that? It's doubled since the year before," he said.
Web 2.0 will also put pressure on connections, he added: "Social networking is one of the next big initiatives for higher education".
The AARNet CEO said that collaboration on projects such as the Square Kilometre Array telescope, climate change research and remote medicine all need access to high speed, reliable broadband networks.
Providing high speed access to less populated states could also prove testing.
"Tasmania is another challenge, there is so much happening in Tasmania with climate change research, and we need to support that ... we want to get our backbone to 10Gbps right around the country," Hancock said.
Tasmania has recently been struggling in light of delays to the Basslink cable, which has seen one ISP unable to offer high speed broadband plans in the state and SMEs hit by a lack of bandwidth.
However, even in Sydney and Melbourne, research institutions like NICTA have significant bandwidth demands. "NICTA are doing some great things. They are really getting [rapid commercialisation] with stuff like wireless 5Gbps ... but they can't do it without the infrastructure," he noted.
AARNet's map of Australia's inter-university high speed network.