USNews's David LaGesse reports that Charter Communications is about to 10-up its high-speed rivals Verizon and Comcast by rolling out a 60Mbps broadband service (Verizon and Comcast currently offer 50Mbps in some markets).
Now that we’ve got Barack Obama in the White House, correct oath or not, the planned $6 billion stimulus package should finally be on its way. But, according to a recent study, most Americans that don’t already have broadband simply don’t want it.
Many Americans don’t see broadband as the saving grace that those that have it do. For example, 19 percent of dial-up users said that nothing would get them to upgrade, not even lowered prices. Of the 25 percent that don’t regularly use the Internet at all (too busy watching mid-day reruns of MacGyver), one third stated that they’re not even interested in going online, whereas an additional 10 percent claimed that they thought it was too difficult.
While many of these statements may hold water today, one can only hope to see what this planned broadband stimulus will bring to the table. Perhaps a healthy dose of cheap, fast broadband is just what the doctor ordered? Plus, it’s difficult to think about all of the modems still making that wretched screech after all these years.
President-elect Barack Obama will have his hands full trying to get the economy back on track once he officially takes office next month, and if the media reform group Free Press has any say in the matter, a major investment in the nation's broadband infrastructure should be high on the list.
In a 30-page reported titled "Down Payment on Our Digital Future: Stimulus Policies for the 21st-Century Economy", the Free Press proposes spending $44 billion in broadband stimulus funds over the next three years. The vast amount of funds would be used to build next-generation broadband networks, connecting rural areas without broadband service, making high speed connections more affordable, providing PCs and training to low income users, promoting children's access to technology at school and at home, and ensuring clear standards of quality, affordability, and competition.
"Promoting the deployment of a national, forward-looking broadband infrastructure will provide substantial short-term and long-term economic benefits," S. Derek Turner, study author and research director of Free Press, wrote in the report (PDF). "This deployment effort will immediately create tens of thousands of new jobs in the telecommunications, manufacturing, and high-tech sectors."
The United States ranks 22nd in the world in broadband adoption, with over 40 percent of all U.S. homes still without a high speed connection. Obama previously said that investing in computers and broadband for schools and hospitals would be part of his immediate economic recovery plans, but no specific amount was ever mentioned.
Would spending $44 billion be overboard? Hit the jump and sound off.
While it’s no secret that the Australian government is a fan of censoring and filtering the country’s Internet, they’re taking a bold new step this time. They’re planning to block BitTorrent completely.
The move comes from the Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy, who wrote in a blog post that he’s planning to oversee a trial if technology could filter data sent directly between computers as opposed to data downloaded from a central server. “Technology that filters peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial,” said Senator Conroy.
“I'm aware that this proposal has attracted significant debate and criticism – on this blog and at other places in the blogosphere,” Senator Conroy wrote. And how does he plan to follow that debate? “I'm following the debate at sites like Whirlpool and GetUp and on Twitter at #nocleanfeed.”
The small town of Monticello, Minnesota has emerged victorious in its legal battle against TDS Telecom. Unimpressed by the DSL and cable services being offered by TDS Telecom, the town with a population of 10,000 people decided to build a fiber network on its own.
But this riled up the telecom company’s feathers. TDS quickly adopted a browbeating approach and filed a suit against the town over the proposed fiber network. The company argued that revenue bonds can not be used for something – broadband internet – that isn’t actually a “utility”.
A new survey conducted by Zeugma Systems reveals that more than 8 out of 10 U.S. broadband customers disapprove of having their bandwidth capped with fees for going over a predetermined limit. Judging by the comments in previous news stories we've run on the subject, it's the same sentiment shared by many Maximum PC readers. But unlike the latter, 83 percent of those polled also were clueless about what a gigabyte is or much bandwidth they're currently consuming. Despite the lack of information, just over half of the respondents claimed they would switch service providers if their ISPs implemented a broadband cap.
"These results are both an opportunity and a warning for BSPs," said Kevin Walsh, Zeugma Systems vice president of marketing. "The opportunity is that consumers are signaling a willingness to pay more for dedicated bandwidth over and above basic high speed internet for such services as premium internet video, VOIP, gaming, and corporate VPN access. The warning is a clear distaste for bandwidth caps. At a minimum, providers moving forward with bandwidth capping schemes may want to consider a more intelligent and flexible application of caps.”
Today marks the beginning of Comcast's 250GB cap, which has drawn ire from those who fear it might not be enough, particularly as HD streaming moves to the forefront of digital distribution. But if this latest poll is any indication, the cap size may not even matter to the majority of subscribers, it's the fact that there's a cap in place to begin with. That perception may prove to be an even bigger challenge than trying to convince subscribers that 250GB is a lot of bandwidth.
Forget about Verizon's FiOS and your spiffy new fast internet connection, because overall, the United States ranks 16th in terms of the best quality broadband internet services, according to a new survey by Oxford University Said Business School. The survey, which received assistance from Oviedo University and Cisco Systems, used collected broadband speed tests as measured by Speedtest.net. They analyzed both download and upload speed, along with internet latency from eight million tests performed in May of 2008.
So who reigned supreme? Japan topped the list has having the best quality broadband, with Sweden and the Netherlands rounding out the top three. The rest of the top ten include Latvia, Korea, Switzerland, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany, and Slovenia, according to the survey.
Perhaps a bad economy is to blame, or maybe consumers are more concerned with getting outside this summer than going online. But whatever the reason, broadband operators are struggling to sign up new customers. Twenty of the largest cable operators and phone companies in the U.S. managed to snag just 887,000 new subscribers in Q2 '08, and according to Leichtman Research Group, the comparatively anemic numbers mark the lowest level of growth seen in the past seven years.
That's good news for consumers, as the lower than expected growth might have sparked a broadband price war. Verizon has said it offer six months of free DSL service to new customers who agree to a one year commitment and also grab a landline package. By taking advantage of the promotion, consumers can pay as little as $45 per month for high-speed DSL and phone service, compared to $65 per month.
But Verizon isn't the only one looking to entice new customers, and AT&T has kicked off a new promotion that guarantees customers its current pricing for two years. Prices range from $20 to $55.
As the broadband market continues to saturate, cable companies could feel the pinch too. Comcast added 278,000 high-speed internet subscribers in Q2, which represents 18 percent fewer customers than the company signed one year ago.
It seems that in the rapidly approaching future I may have to pay extra to my ISP to download my collection of Steam based games when I upgrade my PC or wipe a hard drive. Forget about streaming movies over the net. In fact, best keep your quality internet time to surfing text pages, email without pictures, and IMing. Okay, not quite that bad, but close, if some ISPs have their say about it. The Associated Press covered a story in which a man in New York changed from his cable company to his phone company based on the offer of a year of free service on a two-year contract, an attractive deal. Soon afterr Frontier Communications quietly updated its policies saying it would limit internet activity each month to 5GB. That’s the same figure that several other companies are trying out.
This story is particularly interesting because it’s a phone company trying the cap, not a cable company. Since in this man’s particular area the cable company is Time Warner, which is trying a pilot program in Beaumont Texas with a 5GB cap on its cable service for new users, it might not help to switch even if he can get out of his phone company contract. That is a scenario that we could see repeated in many areas if this catches on.
These scenarios are tough sells to customer that aren’t interested in having additional fees tacked on to their bills, especially after the fact. If consumers are left without a choice because all of their area ISPs are capping their downloads, it’s customers that lose out and it becomes pretty easy for ISPs to charge more money for less service. 5GB of data isn’t much at all.
Do you think this will backfire on ISPs? Sound off below.
We don't know what it is about the year 2012 that has the technological world gunning for it, but we've heard predictions ranging from Linux losing it's command line, to mini-notebooks exploding onto the market with 50 million units expected to ship. There's even talk of being able to book 3-night getaways in outer space, and humans turning into robots! But if we had to pick one prediction most likely to come true, it would be that mobile broadband will hit 100Mbps by 2012, beating fixed line broadband to the punch.
According to the GSM Association (GSMA), demand for faster data speeds in Asian markets is pushing Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology that could deliver speeds up to 186Mbps in the not too distant future.
"The places we expect to see it first are Japan and South Korea in early 2010 and [former Vodafone chief] Arun Sarin said he expects to see the technology in the European market by 2012," said Dan Warren, GMSA director of technology.
Despite the strides being made, Warren doesn't see mobile networks completely replacing fixed lines anytime soon. Of course, none of this will matter if the other predictions come true and we all become half-human, half-robots living in outer space by 2012.