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.
Infantile search engine Cuil came out a cropper during its launch when it crumbled under the weight of its lofty promises – blame it on the copywriter’s strong imagination. But any startup needs some time, sans any distraction, before it can stake a claim for a place in the big league.
However, Cuil’s management will find it difficult to stay focused on its development roadmap for the time being. The startup has lost the services of its VP Product, Louis Monier, who has quit. Monier was an employee worth his weight in gold for Cuil due to his vast experience in the field of online search. It has been confirmed that there were “philosophical differences” between Monier and the Cuil bosses. A huge blow for Cuil as retaining top talent is one of the biggest challenges for any startup.
Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch had a chance to talk to Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Product and User Experience at Google, about her “search is 90-95% solved” story in the LA times.
Mayer said in the original article that “Search is an unsolved problem. We have a good 90 to 95% of the solution, but there is a lot to go in the remaining 10%”. Mayer also alluded that Google still has some mountains to climb before its search has fully adapted to the internet and its growing trends, such as embedded video, maps, and electronic books. Arrington agrees that internet search is still “in its infancy.”
Mayer ended the conversation with saying that the ideal search engine is the user’s “best friend”; it should tailor answers to you based on preference and existing knowledge, and ask, “What do you want?” Hopefully, this is an indication of what’s to come to the Google search engine.
Google is currently pursuing an aggressive strategy of continuous, unabated expansion. Most people depend heavily on Google search for their online research, but Google is not resting on its laurels. After adding tools like Google Scholar and Google Book Search, the company is all set to make another welcome addition to the list of its research tools. The company plans to digitize newspaper archives.
It has enlisted the help of newspaper publishers for the digital newspaper archives. “Not only will you be able to search these newspapers, you'll also be able to browse through them exactly as they were printed—photographs, headlines, articles, advertisements and all,” Google’s product manager Punit Soni claimed in a blog entry. Google will initially concern itself with only U.S and Canadian newspapers.
If your ISP goes down during a bad thunderstorm or other unexpected outage, you might find yourself reflecting on just how dependent you've become on this thing they call the interweb. But while most of us only have to suffer through temporary downtime on rare occasions, what about the "other 3 billion" people who lack internet access altogether?
Google hopes to change that, and with the help of Liberty Global and HSBC, the three internet saviors are backing a start-up called O3b Networks (can you guess what O3b stands for?). Initial production of 16 low-cost satellites is already underway and will eventually provide the infrastructure for locales without high-speed networking cable, including emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
"The O3b Networks system wil completely change the economics of telecommunications infrastructure in the world's fastest-growing markets for communications services," O3b said in a statement.
Look for the service to become active in 2010, with the door being left open for even more satellites down the line.
Various streaming video services, and not just Youtube, have found favor among internet users in Britain and that has driven people away from P2P. Furthermore, according to PlusNet’s Dave Tomlinson, people are turning to streaming videos as they want to access content instantly.
All ISPs unequivocally despise P2P traffic and some have even devised clandestine methods to suppress it. There machinations against P2P are always wrapped in the puritanical garb of fighting piracy. Although streaming services are also used for propagating copyrighted content, the percentage of such unauthorized content is nothing compared to P2P. So ISPs might not have a moral pretext to combat streaming video, if it becomes as popular as P2P.
With social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook featuring in the list of top online display ad publishers, Yahoo must be unhappy for having missed out. Not only has Yahoo seen both its social networking ventures – Mixd being the other one – fail miserably, but it also failed in its bid to acquire Facebook. Don’t forget to pay homage to Mash.
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.
Two researchers, Alex Pilosov and Anton Kapela, have concocted a technique to exploit the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) – internet’s core routing protocol. They demonstrated their technique at the DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas. The threat emanates from the innate credulity of the routing protocol: the BGP apparently is designed to trust all nodes and can be exploited to redirect insane volumes of internet traffic to malevolent networks.
It can be used for spying at a truly unprecedented scale. No, we are not talking about stalking someone on Facebook but nation-state espionage. Millions of users can be exposed within moments of such an attack. A few solutions have already been propounded, but ISPs seem to be watching quietly from the sidelines.
Windows Live Hotmail’s 260 million users worldwide can look forward to a multitude of new features that were recently unveiled by Microsoft. Hotmail wave 3 promises a speed boost of over 70% during sign in, and will enable dynamic storage that will grow at a rate of 250 MB per month. Microsoft is also reportedly working to address the user interface problems which have plagued the service since the roll out of wave 2. Hotmail users currently have the option of picking between the well loved “classic” or the “full” user interface which reportedly suffers from a low adoption rate. This low adoption rate has kept the classic version alive, and made it difficult for Microsoft to roll out new features. Hotmail wave 3 looks to merge the layout of the “classic” with the functionality of the “full”, an approach they are hoping will finally please everyone. This is something that is desperately needed to help attract and retain users currently considering competing services such as Gmail or Yahoo. Improved integration of Live contacts, calendar, and instant messaging help to round out the initial batch of leaked features. The press release doesn’t make any mention of the long rumored POP support or any Skydrive integration, but hopefully these features are still in the works. No public beta has been announced yet, but the “coming soon” headline suggests it probably isn’t that far off.
Are you a former or current Hotmail user? Will these new features keep you with the service or send you running back? Hit the jump and let us know what you think.