Technologizer posts about Broadband

Microsoft’s Building Windows 8 blog has another one of its long, geeky, interesting insider posts. This one’s about how the company is building much more ambitious support for mobile broadband right into the operating system–including a phone-like Airplane Mode.

Posted by Harry at 5:15 pm

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Netflix Now the Biggest Bandwidth Hog in US

By  |  Posted at 4:54 pm on Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Just how big is Netflix right now? Pretty darn big, if you believe the results of a study by “intelligent broadband” solutions provider Sandvine. During peak times, its streaming service accounts for a staggering 29.7 percent of all downstream Internet traffic, Sandvine says.

By itself, Netflix exceeds traffic for P2P file sharing, Web browsing, and real-time communications. By specific source, it far outpaces BitTorrent (at 11 percent) and YouTube (10 percent). Guess Comcast was throttling the wrong technology, eh?

Put that in perspective — that means one out of every four packets headed to an Internet user’s computer is delivering Netflix content, a pretty stunning ratio. It also is the biggest contributor to all real-time entertainment traffic, which is about half of all downstream data being delivered.

Could Netflix be ready to become the iTunes of streaming? I think so–and it may be all the more reason why Apple may want to throw its own hat into the ring.

With ISPs moving lately towards bandwidth caps, I wonder how much longer this growth in traffic from Netflix will be allowed to last. Executives were up in arms a few years back about how BitTorrent was clogging their pipes, but now it seems as if legal content is what’s now the biggest threat to bandwidth. Ain’t that ironic?

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PC Annoyances–and Fixes

By  |  Posted at 12:17 pm on Wednesday, May 4, 2011


PCs are annoying. They do unexpected things and act like little children. I know, because my computer’s always troubled — and from the e-mail I get, so’s yours.

This week: Solutions for some of the computing troubles and annoyances you’ve asked me to fix.

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The Internet Costs More Today, Thanks to AT&T

By  |  Posted at 2:54 pm on Monday, May 2, 2011


So long cheap Internet, we hardly knew ya: AT&T’s broadband data caps go into effect today, reigning in data gobblers and dashing the dreams of high volume file-sharing freebooters. Ahoy, thar be usage checks ahead.

Actually “data caps” isn’t accurate. They’re not caps at all. They don’t cork up your DSL or fiber line when you hit your plan’s magic number. Say you do–AT&T just dings you with an extra service fee. AT&T U-Verse customers ride free until they hit 250GB a month, while AT&T DSL customers top out at 150GB. Go over those marks, and you’ll now pay $10 a month more, plus $10 again every 50GB thereafter.

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This Old House: Fiber Arrives

By  |  Posted at 3:06 pm on Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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If you recall, we recently picked up a new (old) house and our plate is full of projects – including some relevant to a digital media blog. So, on with the story…

I’ve continued to make progress removing and recycling speaker and aerial antenna wire as I encounter it. There’s no way I’ll extricate it all, and fortunately I’m not quite OCD enough to have to. But it’s no longer an eyesore in various built-ins and closets.

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One Gigabit Internet Coming To Chattanooga

By  |  Posted at 1:38 pm on Monday, September 13, 2010


When you’re thinking of ultra-high speed Internet and its expected rollout across the country, I’m sure the last place you’d probably name is Chattanooga, Tennessee. However if all goes right, the mid-sized southern city will likely be the first in the country to break the one gigabit speed barrier here in the US.

City-owned power utility EPB said Monday that it would be able to deliver the ultra-fast speeds by the end of the year. The company had originally announced in June that it would deliver speeds of 150 megabits per second over its 100% fiber-optic network, but apparently the company’s decided to go all out.

Ready to sign up? Better have a big pocketbook. The gigabit service will set you back $350 per month — making it prohibitively expensive to all but mid and large sized businesses and the wealthy. But even its own executives have admitted they really don’t know how to price the offering — so I don’t think it would be all that unreasonable to expect the price to come down fairly soon.

It will also have a little more guidance later this year after Google makes its expected announcement on where it would build its own ultra-high speed network offering similar speeds. The company pledged to cover 500,000 people in the US with fiber-optic Internet earlier in the year. 1,100 communities applied as a result.

So you may ask, “why are they doing it if it’s so darn expensive?” From EPB CEO Harold DePriest comes the best answer I’ve heard from a executive in quite awhile: “Because we can.”


Broadband Adoption Slows as Market Saturates

By  |  Posted at 11:35 am on Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Broadband adoption has begun to slow in the US, with 66 percent of all adults now subscribing to broadband at home. That was the finding of the Pew Internet & American Life project, who said the 3 percent year-over-year increase was the smallest since 2005.

This compares to a 8 percent increase in both 2007 to 2008 and 2008 to 2009. The slowdown may have something to do with the economy, however it probably also means that the market is beginning to saturate, and those that want or need broadband are already subscribed to it.

Another key fact in the study is that overall, US adults believe that the expansion of broadband should not be a priority, with 52 percent responding that way. Interestingly enough, seniors are the most against it with only 21 percent saying it should be a priority and 64 percent against, and respondents aged 18-29 the most supportive with a 48-46 split.

The only demographic group to show a major uptick in broadband usage were African Americans, who saw 22 percent year-over-year growth. The so called digital divide is also narrowing: it is down to an 11-point gap from 19 points the year previous according to the study.

The full report’s PDF can be found here.

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The rumored deal between Google and Verizon over Network Neutrality issues isn’t a deal–it’s a joint proposal to the FCC. It recommends rules that would prohibit the favoring of certain traffic over other traffic on the wired Internet. But Dan Gillmor, who knows way more about this stuff than I do, isn’t thrilled with the companies’ suggestions. And the proposal is pro-Network Neutrality only for wired traffic, not wireless data. Isn’t that a little bit as if it had advised for consumer-friendly regulations for dial-up–but not for broadband–in, say, 2000?

Posted by Harry at 12:33 pm


Ars Technica’s Nate Anderson reports on questions to the FCC from US Senators who wonder if our National Broadband Plan involves a willingness to be a decade behind the most progressive countries when it comes to fast, affordable, universal Internet access.

Posted by Harry at 5:11 pm

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Broadband Becomes a Legal Right in Finland

Finland put into effect on Thursday a new law that mandates telecommunications companies make available Internet access of 1 MBps or higher available to all permanent residences and businesses. The move is the first step in making 100 MBps or faster access available to every Finn by 2015, the government said.

The “universal service obligation” would be handled by about 26 different nationwide providers who would offer service around the country. It should not be too difficult: Finland is one of the world’s most wired countries, but only about 26 percent have a broadband connection–about the same as the United States.

Posted by Ed Oswald at 8:46 am

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FiOS Goes Month-to-Month

By  |  Posted at 9:44 am on Monday, June 21, 2010


Looking to better compete with cable, Verizon has announced that users will be able to sign up on month-to-month plans for its FiOS Internet, cable, and phone service. A contracted option would still be available, which would lock in prices for the duration of the contract. The move is aimed at eliminating one of the criticisms cable providers have leveled against it in advertising.

The cost to go month-to-month would be no more than having a contract, the company said.

Cable companies are looking to stoke the flames of resentment against the concept of early termination fees, which have become increasingly unpopular thanks to overzealous cell phone companies. There is good reason to fight back hard against FiOS: anecdotal evidence suggests cable rates decrease when FiOS is also available in the same area.

People are also looking for another option. In the places where it operates, on average FiOS holds a 25 percent market share.


Sorry, Americans: You once lived in the planet’s most-networked country…but now we’re number five.

Posted by Harry at 10:23 am

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Test (and Fix) Your Broadband Connection

By  |  Posted at 8:05 pm on Wednesday, March 24, 2010


There’s been a big kerfuffle since the FCC recently proposed to give broadband a goose.

If the National Broadband Plan goes as it should (and no, I’m not counting on it, either), almost everyone in the U.S. will get high-speed Internet access (the goal is 90% coverage); average speeds will increase by 20%; and everyone will get malware and viruses lots more quickly.

As it is, the U.S. is near the bottom of the broadband pile, with speeds averaging 2.5- to 10-megabits per second (Mbps); Japan, France, and Korea lead the pack at warp speeds ranging from 160 to 100-Mbps. Read BusinessWeek’s World’s Fastest Broadband; check some numbers from 2007; and if you’re a hard-core techie, dive into some OECD specs from 2009.

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FCC Begins Benchmarking ISPs’ Broadband Claims

By  |  Posted at 3:47 pm on Saturday, March 13, 2010


The Federal Communications Commission has begun to benchmark Internet service speeds across the United States to allow consumer to compare the real world performance of their ISP with its advertised speeds. I’d like to see some action.

The program is under the aegis of the National Broadband Plan, which was created with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to accelerate broadband deployment in the United States. The FCC is gathering data down to the level of home address.

“The FCC’s new digital tools will arm users with real-time information about their broadband connection and the agency with useful data about service across the country,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement to Reuters. The benchmarks will be combined with other data and presented to Congress as part of the agency’s broadband proposal.

Consumers may visit the agency’s Web page to run the rest from their PCs or download the FCC Broadband Test app for Android and the iPhone. (When I ran the test, a script froze Firefox 3.6 on my Mac to the point where I had to manually kill the process, but Safari worked without a hitch.)

The test, which is powered by Ookla Net Metrics, mirrored the results given from other testing engines in my area. I have Time Warner’s Road Runner service in Manhattan. My results were: 9165kbps download speed/490 kbps upload speed.

Time Warner is cagey about putting its advertised speeds out on the Web. Its “Speeds Levels” page for Road Runner lists capabilities – not speeds. I had to look at the fine print for a comparison made with DSL services at the bottom of the page to see that it promises a standard download speed of up to 10 Mbps.

Typically, my speeds vary throughout the day. A Speakeasy speed test returned downstream results of 3.5Mbps yesterday afternoon. I informed Time Warner about the issue through its e-mail support, and received a boilerplate answer about resetting my modem and router as a response.

Hey FCC –how about some accountability with those benchmarks? Most Americans get broadband from regional monopolies or oligopolies, and I bet that their actual performance doesn’t always match what those providers advertise.

In October, the FCC concluded that open access to broadband infrastructure is a catalyst for competition and deals for consumers. That competition couldn’t come soon enough.

Now the FCC has the ammo to at least prompt better service levels. I am stuck with Time Warner. My only other option is Verizon, but my building isn’t wired for it–yet. More. Choice. Please.

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What’s this about bloggers sitting around in pajamas regurgitating the work of real journalists? Gizmodo undertook an uncommonly ambitious project to test 3G wireless speeds in twelve U.S. cities, from New York City to Maui. The results? In a nutshell, AT&T was fastest overall, competing fiercely with Verizon Wireless for download dominance, and sweeping Giz’s upload tests. (The results are worth comparing with PC World’s somewhat similar tests from last Spring; PCW used different methodology in a different set of cities, so it’s no shocker that its conclusions weren’t identical.)

Posted by Harry at 5:39 pm

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Obama Set to Fund Broadband Expansion Initiative

By  |  Posted at 9:25 am on Thursday, December 17, 2009

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The US government will be awarding $2 billion of federal stimulus money over the next 75 days to begin work to expand broadband to rural areas. The first $182 million is being distributed beginning today for 18 projects in 17 states, the Obama Administration said. Some $7.2 billion overall has been marked in the stimulus for work on broadband.

Government officials supporting the plan argue that the investment will stimulate the economy and create “tens of thousands of jobs.” The issue of unemployment has begun to nag the Adminstration, which for much of 2009 has been bogged down in the morass that has become health care reform.

Monies received through the broadband stimulus program may not be exactly for Internet access, however. Improvements to the electrical grid, work in electronic medical records, and high-speed rail projects are also set to receive some funds as a result of the move, officials say.

While I know some of Obama’s opponents will see this as a foolhardy way to spend money, I think it is a good idea to start investing in our broadband infrastructure. Lets put it this way: in the modern economy, broadband Internet access has become ever more vital to success. With the US falling behind globally, you could argue that our businesses are also suffering as well. Add to this the patchwork nature of our broadband footprint, and well, you get the point.

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