Tag Archives | Broadband

US: We’re Number 33 in Broadband

Good news, bad news. First the good: The United States moved up two places in the global broadband speed rankings, according to Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report out today. Bad news: We’re still only 33rd when it comes to percentage of broadband connections above 2Mbps.

Switzerland ranked first in terms of top-tier connections, with 92% being above the 2Mbps level, while the US scored only 63%. Among the countries ahead of us: Slovakia, South Korea, Romania, and Monaco. Poor Tunisia, which ranked first in the last report, fell out of the top 10 after an 18% decline.

Since it is probably not an option to become an expatriate just to get faster broadband, your next best option is to move to the East Coast, which dominates the top 10 states with the best internet connectivity. Number one is Delaware with 62% of connections above 5Mbps, followed up by New Hampshire (must be all the political pull from the Presidential Primaries) at 59%, a 5.1% increase over last quarter. New York, Nevada, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Oklahoma and Maine, round out the top ten.

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LTE vs. WiMAX: The 4G Wireless War

Remember when 3G was the future of wireless data? It’s not even universally available in the U.S. yet, and the race is already well underway to replace it. WiMAX, the 4G network technology that counts Sprint and Intel among its boosters, has a head start. But it’s losing ground to Long Term Evolution (LTE).

LTE’s promise of high-speed, two-way wireless data promises an “all-IP” mode of communications in which voice calls are handled via VoIP. It’s also designed to handle video well, and to permit roaming through multiple systems–from cellular to Wi-Fi and satellite.

LTE is considered by many to be the obvious successor to current-generation 3G technologies, based on WCDMA, HSDPA, HSUPA and HSPA, in part because it updates UMTS technology to provide significantly faster data rates for both uploading and downloading, while preserving backwards compatibility with existing handsets based on older standards. Verizon Wireless, has already said that it will support LTE as its 4G technology of choice, abandoning its current CDMA based network.

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Time Again to Worry About the Internet

bandwidthLast week, The Times created a minor panic by reporting that we’re on track to run out of bandwidth by 2012, pointing to a study that blames greater demand than supply.

Unfortunately, the story is peppered with inaccuracies and sensationalizes the problem, according to one of the study’s researchers who spoke with me. Let’s start with the fact that the study by Nemertes Research isn’t “to be published later this year,” as The Times says, but rather dates to late 2008. More importantly, the claim that “cyberspace is filling up” is based on faulty assumptions about the research.

So if you picked up the story via Engadget, CrunchGear or even Broadband Reports, perhaps a bit of clarification is in order.

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5Words for April 28th, 2009


I want 100-mbps Internet!

Cablevision: 100-mbps for $100.

Microsoft tests Twitter for emergencies.

Survey: iPhones are primarily personal.

Google News comes to you?

Apple’s doing something with chips.

Dell’s touch desktop available stateside.

New Firefox 3.5 beta available.

New HP laptops for business.

How Microsoft should virtualize XP.

GE’s 100-DVD disc technology.

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5Words for April 10th, 2009


Good Friday? This one’s GREAT!

CompUSA is back. And better.

Twitter as tool for revolution.

Getting ready to sell Pres.

Microsoft scales back Live Labs.

Apple patent: unibody for iPods.

Apple discontinues some .Mac tools.

I wanna buy this surge protector.

Time Warner’s unlimited broadband: $150.

Conficker continues to cause trouble.

Sad: D&D co-creator passes away.

Sony puts features on YouTube.

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5Words for April 8th, 2009

5wordsLotsa news tidbits this Wednesday:

Windows 7 users: happy campers.

More BlackBerry Storm 2 rumors.

Nintendo DS: pocket video player.

Apple sued over touch screens.

200 million people use Facebook.

Almost all e-mail is spam.

More and more Twitterers.

Acer unleashes tons of notebooks.

Better broadband? FCC’s getting going.

Word’s father returns to earth.


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Something Special–and Wireless–in the Air

American AirlinesThis better have nothing to do with April Fools’ Day: American Airlines has announced that it’s going to equip more than 300 planes with in-flight Wi-Fi service, bringing Internet access to most of its domestic flights. The airline will work with Gogo to implement the service. And along with recent announcements by Delta, Virgin, Southwest, JetBlue, and others, it means that a meaningful percentage of the plans flying around this country will eventually be Internet-enabled. (It’s going to take awhile, though, and I predict delays.)

I’m used to news about airlines involving new fees for pretzels and air-sickness bags, so this is exciting stuff. I’ve hankered for connectivity in the air for years, but the only times I’ve actually experienced it were on a test flight using Boeing’s Connexion service (which barely worked) and one flight on a Lufthansa plane with Connexion (right before Boeing killed it).

The Gogo technology only works for domestic routes, but the USA Today story I link to at the top of this post reports that Southwest is experimenting with satellite-based Internet access that would work even on international flights. Which is a little confusing given that Southwest only flies domestically, but maybe some other airline will pick up the service for globe-spanning routes.

It’s obligatory in any mention of Internet access in the air to point out that planes have been one of the last zones where you’re free of Internet distractions, and can therefore relax with a good book, chat with loved ones or friendly strangers, and avoid your boss. It’s all true, and I confess that I’m usually really productive on airplanes, especially on those six-hour flights between the coasts. (It’s a lot easier to write thoughtfully when you can’t check e-mail, engage in instant messaging, or check out blogs.) I don’t care, though: I look forward to the day when I can write to you from 10,000 feet in the air. And I can’t see any scenario when I’m going to opt for an airline without Wi-Fi when one that has it is an option…


Obama's Broadband Initiative off to Slow Start

While President Obama has made much of his efforts to bring broadband in the US up to par with other countries — his Administration is spending $7.2 billion on it — it appears the initiative is not off to as fast a start as some of Obama’s other programs.

The government held a informational meeting at the Commerce Department on Tuesday which was well attended according to BusinessWeek. However, important questions — such as the government’s definition of “unserved,” the recipients of the lion’s share of the money — were not answered.

Officials with the the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) deflected those questions, saying it was still looking for guidance from industry leaders and the public. Every other question about allocation was answered in the same way, BW reports.

So what was the point of this meeting? No one seems to know. What it does seem like is a collosal waste of time if the government wasn’t ready to announce anything substatiative. For an Adminstration that’s hanging its hat on eliminating government waste, meaningless events like this could be a good place to start.

There are more public meetings scheduled. These will take place in Washington, Las Vegas, and Flagstaff, Arizona, and be open to industry leaders and other interested parties. One hopes by this time they will know what they’re doing.

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5Words for March 10th, 2009

5wordsToday’s headlines incline dancing news!

Even more Apple netbook rumors.

iPhone developers can’t renew contracts.

Woz can’t dance, still lovable.

Will these ten newspapers die?

Cydia’s unauthorized iPhone app store.

Craigslist: “erotic services” ads dwindling.

YouTube kills British music videos.

Palin hacker’s in bigger trouble.

Jimmy Fallon! Palm Pre! Together!

Broadbrand growth is on decline.

Eminem producers: no iTunes goldmine.

OLED: victim of crummy economy?

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IBM Delivers High Speed Internet Over Power Lines

IBM LogoJust days after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law, today IBM announced that it successfully delivered broadband Internet service to rural areas over power lines. With $7 billion allocated to high speed Internet service, the Recovery Act is a boon for companies like IBM.

Big Blue’s timing might be serendipitous, but it is certainly on message. IBM is touting its relationships with rural electric cooperatives in Alabama, Indiana, Michigan and Virginia, as well as the cost-effectiveness of its solution. The deployments were subsidized by the Rural Development Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Electric power lines may also be a better alternative than wireless services for areas that have hilly terrain, and are more cost effective per mile than DSL telephone service, IBM’s Raymond Blair, director of advanced networks, told the New York Times.

I can’t help but think back to the push for electrification in rural areas after the Great Depression, and the role that played in modernizing undeveloped areas of the United States. Decades later, with the electric grid laid, IBM is saying that government subsidies will permit utilities to cover sparsely populated areas that may otherwise remain unserviced.

Indeed, there may be pent up demand for high speed services. IBM’s Blair noted that a rural utility cooperative in Michigan signed up 5,000 customers within two weeks. My brother lives in an area that is not serviced by cable, and I’m certain that he would jump at the opportunity to sign up for broadband.

My take is that electric power line data transmission will likely be part of a mix of broadband solutions. Different technologies will be better suited for specific regions, and government officials, working in partnership with companies including IBM will work it out over time. It goes without saying that there will be glitches and cost overruns along the way, but when all is said and done, broadband Internet will be significantly more accessible than it is today.