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High-Speed Broadband Making Headway In the US

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the every-little-bit-helps dept.

The Internet 193

darthcamaro writes "No, the US isn't the fastest nation on Earth, and it's not the most connected. But according to a new report, it sure is getting a whole lot better lately. 'I think the US growth rate is something we expected,' David Belson, Akamai's director of market intelligence and author of the report, told InternetNews.com. 'If you look at the money being spent to build out the fiber to the home infrastructure, and if you look at the competitive deals that are going on, vendors are trying hard to make it affordable and "outspeed" each other.'"

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huh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937245)

post post posting is broken

Re:huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937463)

Weird, I guess it's not broken. It's kind of ironic that the thread I wrote out (and for some reason didn't post) was lamenting the fact that our speeds and connections are still woefully behind the potential.

Oh well, I guess I'll chock that mispost up to a network error :)

Too slow, left behind, we need a union, Viva Che! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937251)

[insert standard slashdot lefty boilerplate here]

Director of Market Intelligence? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937269)

whose cock did he have to suck to get a title like that? I'm surprised he's not the Czar of Market Intelligencia

Stupid benchmark. (5, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | about 6 years ago | (#24937291)

>>> "vendors are trying hard to make it affordable and "outspeed" each other"

Yeah...by introducing limits on customers usage of bandwidth and the most popular protocols. This is NOT a net win (pun intended) for end-users. I'd rather have slower link with unrestricted access than have a theoretically faster link that I can't use to do what I want.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937365)

not me. Ill take 100 mb/sec with a cap of 250 GB a month over 758 kb/sec with no cap.

I use net to download only a GB or two a day. I would rather that go fast. Some of us don't need full on 24/7 bandwith from a home account.

If you do, shop around and find someone who suits your needs. I am happy with limited albeit fast net.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (1, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | about 6 years ago | (#24937493)

shop around and find someone who suits your needs.

But there isn't that much choice, is there ? all those ISP's all look alike: same prices, same speeds, and they don't really want the market to change ...

Re:Stupid benchmark. (3, Insightful)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | about 6 years ago | (#24937591)

I did shop around. The only provider I can find that services my apartment (ignoring dial-up, as that's not a 24/7 solution, and ignoring satellite, as beyond its traditional failures I don't have anywhere to mount a dish) is Comcast.

Choice would be great, but not everybody has that option.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | about 6 years ago | (#24937697)

Actually you do have a choice. It's just not the choice you want - which is tough tittie, basically.

Don't go confusing reality with your ideals.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (1)

Bishop Rook (1281208) | about 6 years ago | (#24937897)

Except it's the monopolistic practices of Comcast that cause that situation.

They use exclusive provider deals with housing developments and apartment buildings to ensure they're the only company allowed to compete on the block. In lack of competition, they stagnate.

Fine. Then I and my neighbors will pool our resources to lease several lines from Comcast, and set up a bandwidth pool we all can access. Except then we get our asses sued.

Fine. Since Comcast isn't willing to provide better service, we'll have the city spin off a privately-funded municipal wireless ISP and force them to compete. Except then the city gets its ass sued.

It seems like all's fair in business when it's the customer getting fucked, but not when the business goes crying home to the government for protectionism and bailouts.

But that's the very heart of American "capitalism"--socialism for the rich.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | about 6 years ago | (#24937725)

Your other option is cellular based internet. You can get plans around $50 a month and have broadband anywhere in the country you can get a cellular signal on your network.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (1)

Bishop Rook (1281208) | about 6 years ago | (#24937939)

Cellular Internet and satellite both have very serious performance issues. With satellite, it's mostly latency and also some availability issues; with cellular, it's both latency and jitter. DSL, cable, FTTH, and WiMax all have much better performance profiles.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (1, Redundant)

QRDeNameland (873957) | about 6 years ago | (#24937945)

not me. Ill take 100 mb/sec with a cap of 250 GB a month over 758 kb/sec with no cap.

Never mind your fancy numbers. All I want to know is that my "broadband" is "high-speed". Then when everyone has "high-speed broadband", they can sell me "large-capacity high-speed broadband" which will be even better.

Now excuse me, I must leave for my job at the Department of Redundancy Department, and if I get modded Redundant, I'll take it as a compliment.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 6 years ago | (#24937495)

Yeah, and I would rather actually have access that actually goes at a decent speed and not have to worry that my neighboors are sucking up all the bandwidth. I live in Germany right now, and unless I get online early in the morning or late at night, I pretty much have 0 bandwidth. I have to fucking cache youtube videos because some asshat upstream wants to hog all the bandwidth. I say bring on the caps!

Re:Stupid benchmark. (4, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | about 6 years ago | (#24937595)

Silence! All other country's have superior internet connection's to the one's in the US.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (2)

Khyber (864651) | about 6 years ago | (#24938207)

Connection is? One is?

Man, I thought my Texas education was horrible.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (1)

Bishop Rook (1281208) | about 6 years ago | (#24938271)

Don't forget the have belonging to all other country.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (2, Insightful)

Wildclaw (15718) | about 6 years ago | (#24938197)

If someone can "hog all the bandwidth", that is a sign of a badly managed network. Ensuring that each user gets their fair share without artifically limiting the whole network is one of the main responsibilities of an ISP.

Ten years ago I could have understood it, but with todays technology it should no problem ensuring that each user gets their fair share. Of course, lots of ISPs still deal in ancient idiotic ideas like capping per tcp session. Sure, it is the simplest way to cap, but it is just as easy to bypass (by using more sessions than others). And a special mention to all the cable companies with their "shared last mile networks" that are causing problems most everywhere.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (2, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | about 6 years ago | (#24937535)

This PR release (which it really seems to be) sounds a great deal like Bobbitt's "Market State" where the battle cry is "Maximize Opportunity!"-- or in other words: "It's really, really fast... so long as you don't use the 'really really fast-ness' too much."

There's no use on having a formula 1 race car if you're only allowed to do 10 laps a month. On a track filled with mandatory diversions.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (2, Interesting)

c_forq (924234) | about 6 years ago | (#24938331)

There's no use on having a formula 1 race car if you're only allowed to do 10 laps a month. On a track filled with mandatory diversions.

Sure there is. I only need to go to stop on the other side of the store once or twice a week, but when I have to go there I want it to take the minimal amount of time possible (because obviously my time is very valuable - I drive a formula 1 race car for god's sake).

Re:Stupid benchmark. (3, Informative)

ohtani (154270) | about 6 years ago | (#24937619)

I've been on road runner for some time and it seems to have a decent speed and not have a bandwidth limit based on protocol.

I'm aware some companies are doing this, but some companies != all companies.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (1)

Chrono11901 (901948) | about 6 years ago | (#24938073)

in many areas this is not true. For example Long Island, NY Cablevision is at war with Verizons DSL and FIOS. From cablevision you can get a 15Mbs/2Mbps connection from 30-40$ a month($10-15 more for a 20/5 connection).

NO USAGE LIMIT

ps: There used to be a bandwidth cap/throttling that was automatically instated (you would have to call and hear a lecture to get it removed) if you were uploading enough to cause a slowdown at the node. As of lately it hasn't been happening.

Re:Stupid benchmark. (1)

knutkracker (1089397) | about 6 years ago | (#24938873)

This is NOT a net win (pun intended)

Save me. [thebestpag...iverse.net]

BwaHAHA: (4, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 6 years ago | (#24937319)

From TFS:

"...and if you look at the competitive deals that are going on, vendors are trying hard to make it affordable and "outspeed" each other."

As opposed to, uh, slapping each other on the back while they fix prices and swallow up any hope of independent providers and actual competition while they stretch their already-inadequate infrastructure to a taffy-like consistency as they arbitrarily mess with their own traffic, routing it through mysterious big boxes that read, "NSA SEKRIT BOX -- DON'T TOUCH" after they force their customers to sign EULA's which read like some Kafka-esque road to nothing(except certain death).


And their commercials suck, too.

BwaHAHA:Don't ask! Don't connect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24938439)

So I'm guessing by your tone that you don't have personal access to the internet. Don't want ANYONE to disturb your principles.

I'm calling bullshit (1)

jlechem (613317) | about 6 years ago | (#24937321)

I live in Utah.

I can choose Comcast (6Mbs) or Qwest (who the fuck knows, slower then comcast). If my town signed up for Utopia I could get good speed but Farmington has decided to not join in. It's been this way since I got high speed back in like 1999. All this lovely stuff for like 55 bucks a month. No new vendors, no break in price, nothing but high prices and poor customer service.

Thank your government (3, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#24937431)

Do you think you're alone? I'm sure most of the customers are unhappy as well. High prices. Bad service. No choice. So if there is such a high demand for better service, why doesn't your current service provide it? There's no incentive. You all keep paying for it. If you all chose to go on strike, they'd listen up. But if you go on strike, you lose the service, which is not the best solution. So what's the other possibility for incentive? Competition. If there was another company providing similar service, your existing company would want to keep your service, and persuade people from the other company to switch to their services. The only way they can persuade customers is through trade to mutual benefit. You get your money's worth, and they get your money. Right now, that is not happening.

So what is preventing competition from existing? What is stopping someone from springing up to start a local alternative to their crappy service? Or, what is stopping an existing large company that provides a similar service from expanding to provide this service that you and so many others demand? See my subject for the answer.

Re:Thank your government (2)

Tweenk (1274968) | about 6 years ago | (#24938375)

If you look at the situation with plumbing companies in early 20th century, you'll see that in fact broadband access is a natural monopoly, because duplicating last mile infrastructure is very wasteful. What is needed is not less government involvement but careful regulation that enables competition, much like any other utilities market. I won't come up with a detailed solution - that's what MBAs are for.

Re:Thank your government (2, Insightful)

Dragoon412 (648209) | about 6 years ago | (#24938879)

So what is preventing competition from existing? What is stopping someone from springing up to start a local alternative to their crappy service? Or, what is stopping an existing large company that provides a similar service from expanding to provide this service that you and so many others demand? See my subject for the answer.

It's not just the government's fault. Certainly, they've been an enabler. But can you imagine trying to pitch a system of government-owned infrastructure in the US?

Part of the problem is the way ownership of the infrastructure works in the United States. Specifically, it's that infrastructure clashing with property rights that provides the problem. If, say, Comcast owns their own lines, in order to provide service, they need to go into a neighborhood (likely with permission from the local government), and tear up everyone's lawns to lay cable. Now that neighborhood has a single provider. You want competition? Now Charter has to come along, tear up your line, and lay more cable. You've got two providers now. That's not much competition. So you want a third? You can see where this is going. And at the end of the day, we've got X lines in the ground for X services, and X number of upgrades that need to be made to the hardware to increase speed and capacity. The system leads to local monopolies and utterly eviscerates competition.

What the US needs is a system when the government owns and is responsible for maintaining the lines. Something like what they have in Norway. There, every time there's a municipal digging project, they lay fiber. Sewer? Add fiber. Construction? Add fiber. After a while of doing this, you have a massive, single-owner infrastructure. The government then leases those lines to the ISPs, who provide the service to the customers. And compared to the US system, they have less garbage in the ground, less tearing up your lawn, more opportunity for competition, faster deployment/upgrade times, and more even distribution of high-speed coverage. The end result is they have more people with faster connections paying more reasonable prices than here in the US.

We should, of course, adopt that model. But given the state of US politics, can you even imagine the outcry if our government tried to implement such a system? The telcos would scream bloody murder, and everyone more inclined to mindlessly shout "Ra! Ra! Go Capitalism!" than understand simple economics (read: most of the US) and their collective - and unfortunate - voting power, would shout down any politician backing the thing.

What we can quite squarely blame the government for, though, are two things (although this is likely not exhaustive):

1) Paying the telcos hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies, ostensibly to upgrade our nation's collective internet connection, and seeing that money vanish into the ether.

2) Allowing telcos to have exclusivity deals with apartment complexes and the like.

So, sure, the government's in the best position to improve things. But I don't think it's quite fair to lay the blame squarely at their feet.

Re:Thank your government (1)

blindd0t (855876) | about 6 years ago | (#24938913)

We can only hope that if the land-based providers remain stagnant, that we will see some wireless competition [arstechnica.com] in the near future. While I know it's no small feat to implement large wireless networks, I sincerely hope we end up with more than 2 good contenders in areas.

Re:I'm calling bullshit (1)

qoncept (599709) | about 6 years ago | (#24937563)

HAH! I pay $90 (plus $15 for a phone line I wouldn't otherwise have) a month for 768k SDSL. Next best option is dialup (which I consider better than satellite after a bit of research). But somehow I doubt people that live in places as populus as ours don't have too many more options, no matter what country they're in.

Re:I'm calling bullshit (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 6 years ago | (#24937771)

It looks like you can get Digis too (wireless broadband, adequate during the day, awful latency during storms). In my HOA, it's the only high speed solution because the builder signed an agreement with dish network that barred the other providers from building into it. Someday, people will realize that exclusivity deals only hurt the consumer. But that day is not today.

Re:I'm calling bullshit (1)

Pjerky (1270800) | about 6 years ago | (#24938371)

The problem is the builders are getting a kickback for this, which at one time was illegal. These companies don't care about the consumer, just the consumer's money.

The only way to fix all of this is to make these exclusive contracts completely illegal. In the case of them colluding together to keep prices high it would be called a cartel which most definitely is illegal in the U.S..

Re:I'm calling bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24938115)

A question that is perhaps ignored by many communities is whether something like Utopia [utopianet.org] has a potential to be a marketing factor with the more mobile of our society when it comes to voting their $$$ via choice of residency. There are universities where campus residency was dropping heavily in favor of local apartments, commuting and local rental homes till the popularity of the internet took off and the dormitories were wired for high speed connections.

The university in this small town was one of those and has been expanding its housing department as well as making many of the new residence halls into apartments rather then dormitories. Now there are large numbers of empty apartments around town even though the local telco and cable company finally admitted there was sufficient demand for "broadband" to provide the options about a year ago, they pale in comparison to the university's. So obviously the pull of high speed connections is greater for many then the perceived lack of freedom that prompted the off-campus moves.

These people have been graduating and moving to the workforce for a while now, you can bet their choices for residency are tempored not only by job availability but for quality of life issues that, with them, will include bandwith. Factors that will also be measured by businesses when selecting locations to do business. Any real moves towards higher rates of telecommuting could revive many small towns, but only if they have sufficient infrastructure to support it.

Re:I'm calling bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24938673)

Yeah.. I just moved to Baltimore from Silicon Valley. I've got basically two choices. Comcast or DSL over crappy phone lines. Since I telecommute, I really have no choice. I've tried DSL here but it's down anywhere from 5 to 500 times a day depending on the direction of the wind....or something.

(Yes, there's also wireless provider but latency is too high)

Not that there was alot of choice in the Valley.

cities are ok (1, Redundant)

jacquesm (154384) | about 6 years ago | (#24937335)

it's the rural areas where the real problems are, telcos are simply not motivated to do anything at all about it.

In the cities you can usually choose between several broadband providers, in the sticks you're lucky if you have one.

If not then it's good old dial up or isdn for you.

Re:cities are ok (5, Interesting)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 years ago | (#24937473)

but the most bizarre thing [at least for me, even though I'm not in the US], is that small towns, after asking the telco/cableco's to provide the town with higher-speed internet access and being told no [generally because of the relatively small population], when the town then plans to setup their own high-speed service, the very companies that told them "No, we can't be bothered", turn around 180 degree's and sue the town to stop the implementation [not that they would then provide the service if the lawsuit succeeds, but just to delay and/or prevent the town from providing the service].

Re:cities are ok (1)

krgallagher (743575) | about 6 years ago | (#24937645)

"it's the rural areas where the real problems are, telcos are simply not motivated to do anything at all about it."

I agree, but can you blame them? I look at my Mother's situation. She lives twenty miles from any incorporated city. They would have to run a line twenty miles with only one customer every mile or two. There is just no incentive for that.

As recently as 1984 she still had a party line, and even now she is a member of a rural cooperative for both water and power.

Re:cities are ok (1)

Bishop Rook (1281208) | about 6 years ago | (#24938133)

If only there were some way to provide point-to-point connectivity between two locations that didn't involve laying wires in the ground...

Unless your mother lives in the mountains, her rural coop could get completely wired with plain old Wifi and a few Pringles cantennas. Well okay maybe at a range of a mile or two between residences you'd need to actually buy a beefy access point and a good directional antenna, but it wouldn't be a drastic investment.

Re:cities are ok (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 6 years ago | (#24938269)

Directional antennae are not good for a widespread wifi solution. Better to use omnidirectional and then boost the signal and make every Wireless AP part of a mesh network.

Of course, with current wireless tech as it is, the entire little town would have maybe 200 mbps throughput total (assuming wireless N and TCPIP overhead) So you'd need to expand sooner or later with population growth.

And in this timeline..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937337)

This has been an update from Quasi-Reality News. Your news source from alternate universes and realities. Please join us again last week for updated reports on tomorrow's latest possible stories.

Maybe in some areas... (2, Interesting)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 6 years ago | (#24937341)

...but not here. We can choose Clearwire, Verizon or Time-Warner. Time-Warner keeps inching up peak rates, currently 8Mbps downstream, but average throughput is a lot lower. Clearwire and Verizon aren't even in the running speed-wise.

FIOS isn't even on the drawing board yet.

Don't get me wrong, 8MBps peak is better than the 3Mbps peak we had when we signed up, which is better than the 768Mbps we got from Verizon DSL, which is better than the 56K we got from a local dialup. But when I look at what we bring down the pipe now vs. then, well, the load is way outpacing the capacity.

Re:Maybe in some areas... (1)

HiVizDiver (640486) | about 6 years ago | (#24937621)

768 Mbps! Holy schnikes! What more do you want, man?!?! ;-)

AT&T and broadband (1)

ScubaS (600042) | about 6 years ago | (#24937345)

I just found out that AT&T (formerly BellSouth in this area) had actually managed to install fiber optic cables to our house up to a roadside service box. but unfortunately, the cables from the service box to the central office are made of copper. I found that ironic but at least they are making progress!

What about usage caps? (3, Interesting)

MassEnergySpaceTime (957330) | about 6 years ago | (#24937349)

I wonder if these reports will start taking into account usage caps employed by some ISPs. After all, what would be the point of upgrading from a 5 Mbps line to a hypothetical 500 Mbps line if your ISP caps your usage to the same number of GB in both cases? It would LOOK like ISPs are offering faster speeds, but you wouldn't be able to use that faster line to do more than you could with the slower line.

Welcome to Australia (4, Interesting)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | about 6 years ago | (#24937613)

That's not fair off from the situation in Australia, where bandwidth caps are the norm. It's possible to get an ADSL2+ plan [whirlpool.net.au] where you could exceed the monthly download cap in less than 5 minutes! [google.com]

Re:Welcome to Australia (1, Interesting)

Anachragnome (1008495) | about 6 years ago | (#24938193)

Yeah, and my Verizon plan allows me to speak to my brother on Pluto, but only for .003ms per month.

And when I complained about it and threatened to cancel my account, I was informed of the "in perpetuity" clause of my contract that was renewed because I called to ask how much a new battery for my phone cost.

Re:What about usage caps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937965)

The difference is the same pages you would normally browse loading in 2 seconds or 0.02 seconds.

Re:What about usage caps? (1)

Bishop Rook (1281208) | about 6 years ago | (#24938233)

In most cases it would not help loading Web pages. Thanks to TCP slow start, at the very beginning of a TCP connection the limiting factor in the transfer rate is latency, not bandwidth. You have to be transferring for a while before you manage to actually hit full bandwidth. Most Web pages are so tiny that the download is finished before your TCP window ever fully opens up. Same deal with most relatively small images--each image on a page is opened as a totally separate HTTP GET request.

Higher download speeds are only really useful for downloading large files and for streaming higher-bitrate audio/video content, but then you run into the cap issue.

Wrong Direction (2, Insightful)

1gkn1ght (742286) | about 6 years ago | (#24937353)

They need to stop working on getting people with high speed internet faster internet, and work on getting people that only get dialup high speed internet.

Re:Wrong Direction (2, Insightful)

Rie Beam (632299) | about 6 years ago | (#24937753)

Actually, what they're currently doing makes perfect sense from a business stand-point.

People who don't have or use the Internet are few and far between, being generally uninterested in the concept (read: "I don't even own a computer!"), or they live in an extremely rural environment, which means the profitability of serving them in lessened, having to roll out new cable to serve just a few people.

People who have dial-up, on the other hand, are already online. They know what's out there. They might say, "Well, I only check my e-mail and the news", but give them a taste of high-speed and they become e-addicts. This isn't exactly helped by the driving emphasis on media-rich websites nowadays, to the point where some people feel they should just "bite the bullet". It feels like less and less of an option with each day, especially each time a friend of theirs sends a link to them, only to have them apologize that "I have dial-up, and it will take forever to load..."

Having high-speed is basically becoming an issue of having a bigger e-penis. You don't really need it, and can get by just fine without it, but sometimes that $50 a month doesn't look too bad when cozied up with instant page loads and more accessibility to video content. It's a modern convenience and, much like driving a big car, owning a big house, etc, it can sometimes be a symbol of having enough money to afford such a technology, even when it's outrageously over-priced in comparison.

Re:Wrong Direction (1)

Javi0084 (926402) | about 6 years ago | (#24938467)

I think I've read this comment before.

Speeds up but availability low (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937377)

From the article:

Despite such efforts, the country still sits sixth on Akamai's list of the most widely broadband-enabled counties, with only 26 percent of U.S. Internet connections having been clocked at speeds of 5Mb/sec or greater. South Korea continues to hold the top spot with 64 percent of its Internet user's connection at speeds of 5 Mb/sec or greater.

Given the nature of the market, I don't think we'll see 60 to 70 percent high-speed broadband penetration in the U.S. for quite some time," he added.

So speeds are going up in areas that have service but fast service still isn't widely available. And only 26% of what's out there now is faster than 5MB/sec.

Belson noted that California came in 21st in the nation, with its 7 percent growth rate over first quarter having been outpaced by other states' growing broadband infrastructures. In Akamai's last report, California ranked 17th.

Slicon Valley is still pretty much only ATT DSL or Comcast Cable.

Re:Speeds up but availability low (1)

Rayeth (1335201) | about 6 years ago | (#24938821)

Pretty much all of California is this way. I used to live in Silicon Valley, and then LA Area, and now San Diego. All have the DSL vs Cable company choice. All of them suck unless you live next door to the DSL central office and can get the Super Elite Premium Ultra Tier of DSL. And even that is worse than anything that FIOS would give.

From my experience (2, Insightful)

esocid (946821) | about 6 years ago | (#24937385)

I haven't seen much in the way of vendors are trying to outspeed each other. Verizon did recently just lay down some fiber where my parents live (in virginia) but speed has been stagnating since I remember first getting cable internet sometime in 1999, maybe verizon may spearhead the switch to fiber and increased speeds.
Vendors may be increasing areas of coverage slowly but I'd say gaining customers is their priority, not upgrading networks. Lack of competition may be the source of this stagnation since only 4 names come to mind when I think broadband: Time-Warner, Comcast, Cox, and Verizon FIoS. Who else is rolling out fiber?

Re:From my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24938129)

Qwest is rolling out fiber in certain markets.

Re:From my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24938475)

You think the States lacks competition?
Here in Toronto, Canada, there's only two options known to Joe Public, and that's either Rogers or Bell.

The speeds have improved slightly in recent years. However, we have to deal with the sporadic application of bandwidth caps and traffic-throttling.
As for prices, they're essentially locked-down and set to match the competition.

From my kitchen. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 6 years ago | (#24938513)

"Who else is rolling out fiber?"

Quaker Oats.

does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937415)

that the ISPs are finally using those billions of tax-payer dollars to do what they were supposed to?

Re:does this mean... (1)

IMightB (533307) | about 6 years ago | (#24937603)

No they pocketed that sh*t a looong time ago and reported it as profits. What they're doing now is keeping the prices to customers high, buying the *now cheaper* equipment and very slowly rolling out only to the most profitable areas. If you're in BFE you're still fucked.

define broadband (0, Offtopic)

davidwr (791652) | about 6 years ago | (#24937475)

Akamai found that U.S. broadband [wikipedia.org] connections -- defined as connections at 5 megabits per second (Mb/sec) or faster

I wonder how fast baseband [wikipedia.org] is?

I recently switched... (2, Interesting)

Schnoogs (1087081) | about 6 years ago | (#24937497)

...to FIOS from Comcast and have been thoroughly enjoying the 15mb download speeds. Pretty much everything I do now on the net is blazing fast whether it's downloading large video files or playing games. Plus there's bandwidth for TV as well since I use FIOS for that too.

I couldn't be any happier.

Emphasis on Satellite (2, Interesting)

Rie Beam (632299) | about 6 years ago | (#24937541)

It's funny, I was discussing this earlier on the drive to work. We both live in a rural area and commute into an urban environment, and experience the pains and joys that both bring.

We both basically reached the same conclusion -- The United States, she is a big place. It's always going to be easier to wire up a thousand people living within a few blocks of each other than that same thousand living within a few miles.

If we really intend to catch up, we need to take a cue from cellular networks and increase the emphasis, availability, efficiency, and cost of satellite internet.

It's basically a matter of a high tech, potentially high-cost solution, or a low-tech, lower-cost band-aid that only treats the screaming wound -- the large urban environments. We have 300+ million people living in this country, and even our biggest city, New York, has only around 8-10 million of that encapsulated. We are a big suburban / rural society still, albeit a lot of times by choice now, and having a large, open-air data network is going to be more key to us than trying to cover each and every house in the U.S. with optical fiber.

Re:Emphasis on Satellite (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | about 6 years ago | (#24937791)

Satellite-based broadband internet service is available now:

http://www.wildblue.com/ [wildblue.com]

Disclaimer: my dad is a reseller.

But, anything based on satellites will always have a latency that's a few hundred milliseconds on the side of uncomfortable if you want to do anything interactive, like gaming or video chat. Bandwidth is happy though.

Re:Emphasis on Satellite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24938119)

Last time I had satellite, it was capped - and after you hit that cap (I believe it was a daily cap, but am not 100% sure) , all transfers moved at a few KB/s . I stopped paying for the ripoff and went to dialup, until cable arrived.

Re:Emphasis on Satellite (1)

Samizdata (1093963) | about 6 years ago | (#24938695)

Having been an admin in a outsourcer that handled WB support, maybe you want to mention the Fair Access Policy? (I could never stop giggling when the agents would mentioning people being FAP'd or FAP'ing someone...)

Re:Emphasis on Satellite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937849)

I guess you must either work for Hughes, or have been living in a cave and never heard of "latency".

Re:Emphasis on Satellite (1)

santiagoanders (1357681) | about 6 years ago | (#24937997)

Satellites can only serve so many people. They work well for television because so many subscribers are using the same broadcast content. Once every user needs different content, the model doesn't work very well, unless you add more satellites with narrower beams, or open up more of the wireless spectrum to satellites. Wires don't infringe on an already crowded wireless spectrum (a very scarce resource). If there were a great demand for the advantages of satellite internet, then there would be more subscribers (more demand), and companies would follow the money.

But satellite information takes hundreds of milliseconds to get to the surface - which is a pain in the rear for anyone who wants low-latency applications (games, 2-way voice and video). Also bad weather affects the transmissions (that isn't to say that wires aren't affected by weather - but many are buried).

Re:Emphasis on Satellite (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | about 6 years ago | (#24938169)

"But satellite information takes hundreds of milliseconds to get to the surface - which is a pain in the rear for anyone who wants low-latency applications (games, 2-way voice and video)."

I still think it's a vast improvement over dial-up or nothing. If you're interested in lag-free gaming, you're also going to be interested in faster hardware, more expensive equipment, etc, and the cost of a landline isn't going to be nearly as prohibitive.

"Once every user needs different content, the model doesn't work very well, unless you add more satellites with narrower beams, or open up more of the wireless spectrum to satellites. Wires don't infringe on an already crowded wireless spectrum (a very scarce resource). If there were a great demand for the advantages of satellite internet, then there would be more subscribers (more demand), and companies would follow the money."

Funny, cellphone companies don't seem to have a problem delivering various types of content to various customers -- using towers and channel access methods (ever hear of CDMA?), we already seem to be working on the infrastructure, albeit the urban areas still get the strongest signals and data communication.

The big question is, how to avoid congestion? How many satellites would it take to keep the network running smoothly, or at least without significant downtime in any one area?

Re:Emphasis on Satellite (1)

santiagoanders (1357681) | about 6 years ago | (#24938605)

"you're also going to be interested in faster hardware, more expensive equipment"
Only comparing the user-premisis equipment I think that satellite communications equipment would be more expensive than a fiber transceiver.
As for the network infrastructure, I don't know what would be more expensive: launching a bunch of satellites every 5-10 years, or building out fiber to everyone. At least for ground equipment, you can more cheaply replace the modems/transceivers with newer technology and keep the medium the same.

"Funny, cellphone companies don't seem to have a problem delivering various types of content to various customers."
Cellular networks are pretty much the same as wired networks, with the last mile being wireless. Of course they divide the spectrum for multiple access, but you can only divide it so many ways (so many chipping codes in the case of CDMA). Which means more satellites with narrower beams, or less bandwidth per customer. I wonder if a satellite would cost less than the several cell towers it would replace?

I think a better solution is a hybrid wireless network - for difficult-to-cable areas just make a point-to-point WiMAX link, and distribute the rest with cables in the town.

Well, sort of (2, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | about 6 years ago | (#24937553)

'If you look at the money being spent to build out the fiber to the home infrastructure, and if you look at the competitive deals that are going on, vendors are trying hard to make it affordable and "outspeed" each other.'

As long as you don't read the fine print, anyway.

I've looked at the offers available here, and the funny thing is that they pretty much permanently lock in the duopoly.

  • No access to other service providers
  • no way to go back to competitive services
  • TOSes that have amazing little clauses (no servers on their network or any network connected to theirs, etc.)
  • The pricing looks good until you notice that it's only for the first few months and then goes through the roof
  • the deals are all quoted as parts of bundles (internet, voice, television) and the bundles aren't cheap at all,
  • ....

All this proves is that US broadband really sucked (2, Interesting)

zerofoo (262795) | about 6 years ago | (#24937561)

This is like the "most improved player" trophy that little leagues award to kids that used to stink, but now don't create too much trouble for their teams.

Many areas of the US can not get broadband. (ISDN and T1 are not broadband - it's not 1993 anymore). I live in a fairly middle-class neighborhood in the North East, and I have a choice of ONE broadband provider. That's right, my local cable co.

DSL - too far away. FIOS - it's always 6 months away. Satellite ok, I can get that, but $50 a month for 512k down and 128k up sucks. I don't consider that broadband.

Broadband in MOST of the US is still pathetic - slow and expensive.

-ted

Re:All this proves is that US broadband really suc (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 years ago | (#24937667)

FIOS - it's always 6 months away.

Yeah? If that's true, you sure are lucky. FIOS has been "6 months away" for a few years now where I live.

Re:All this proves is that US broadband really suc (1)

StellarFury (1058280) | about 6 years ago | (#24938113)

That's... exactly what he was saying. Thus "always" 6 months away.

Re:All this proves is that US broadband really suc (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 6 years ago | (#24938173)

Yup, sorry. That's what I get for reading too quickly.

Re:All this proves is that US broadband really suc (1)

pappy97 (784268) | about 6 years ago | (#24938403)

FIOS - it's always 6 months away.

Yeah? If that's true, you sure are lucky. FIOS has been "6 months away" for a few years now where I live.

Seriously. Here in tech-savvy wealthy Silicon Valley, FIOS won't come here in my LIFETIME, and I'm under 30 years of age. There is a small outfit called Paxio that does FTTP (and even offer gigabit up and down), but they only seem to be in new Pulte Home Developments, that's it.

Re:All this proves is that US broadband really suc (1)

hAckz0r (989977) | about 6 years ago | (#24938353)

Same story here, only one street in my neighbourhood had such a bad cable signal they could not even get a broadband connection going. I was just getting ready to extend a helping hand with a wifi booster and directional antenna, but then the cable company finally dragged a cable through a wetlands preserve and across a neighbours back yard just to get a decent signal to the last 1/4 mile on that street. The signal and transfer speeds still suck, but at least they are connected! It only took the 'whole community' to threaten and complain to the cable company, just get that much, so I wonder what it would take to get a real 'high speed' connection all the way way out there, all but a 1000 ft from the local city limit. Ok cable co, I can even yell that far, why can't you get a decent broadband signal there?

Affordable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937577)

What crackhead thinks that 50 bucks a month is affordable? That's for the bare minimum "broadband" access via cable or DSL. Higher speeds approach a hundred bucks a month and they always bundle tv, phone, and other crap you don't need together with the internet.

Re:Affordable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24938031)

Are you shitting me? I live in fucking Oklahoma and still get 12/1Mbps for $50 without being forced to subscribe to any other services. (Though, Cox does keep sending its lackeys out to bug me about their shit phone service every few months.) As for $50 being affordable, anyone pulling 30 hours at minimum wage could afford that, so long as their other expenses are in order.

Free Markets and Economic Infrastructure (2, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 6 years ago | (#24937583)

I'd like some Slashdotters' feedback on the following problem:

I live in an area of Northern New England where most people don't have broadband. It's somewhat rural, but certainly not 'very rural'. There are maybe 12-15 homes per linear mile in most areas. The ILEC was, until recently, Verizon.

The main issue was that Verizon is a big public company with a huge market. Yet, it necessarily has limited resources. It's not that running DSL up a residential road would be unprofitable, it's that for the n dollars it would cost, they could spend that same n dollars in Jersey City and get a better return on investment. You can't blame them for seeking that return. For this reason they continue to upgrade and invest in their dense plant and do nothing in their sparse plant. When they still owned the area, an engineer told me their plan went to 2014 and our county wasn't on the plan.

Now, since then Fairpoint has taken ownership of the plant. They want to sell voice and data, sure, but they also want to sell video service over DSL, which is where the real money is (for now anyway). So, they're sending trucks around, surveying lines and poles, figuring out the fastest way to get DSL in. Their logistics make Northern New England look like a huge market, where Verizon saw it as a distraction. They're even finding CO's where Verizon installed DSLAM's 3 years ago but never offered service, simply because they couldn't be bothered. Some people are getting lit up the next business day after calling. This is very positive, we're lucky the plant was sold.

However, for any sized market, there's still a long-tail where people aren't going to be profitable enough to serve. We had Rural Electrification in 1936 which is largely parallel because both served/would-serve to improve total overall economic efficiency. There are also PUC's which can force changes (in theory), and towns can bond for their own fiber plants. However, Government is always the easy 'big stick', but it would be nicer, more sustainable, and more peaceful, if there was a creative third-way. Besides that, the US Federal Government already charged us all for FTTH and it never materialized [newnetworks.com] . So it's not just violent, it's dysfunctional. And the municipal fiber projects are very slow to meet market need, and seemingly often have management and funding problems.

So, I'm asking folks here for great 'third-way' ideas. I've come up empty, but there are lots of clever thinkers in these parts.

Re:Free Markets and Economic Infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937805)

Our formerly-Verizon plant was sold to Hawaii Telcom; any rep I ask states that we (in the country, three miles from town) are simply not getting DSL.

The cable company has also made it clear that they simply do not intend to serve my area.

My options are dialup, satellite, or Verizon Wireless with its "exceed 5G/month and we'll assume you're downloading pirated movies/music" policy.

"the US isn't the fastest nation on Earth" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937605)

Sometimes, the comedy just writes itself.

Going down ....

Oh, joy! (2, Insightful)

mpaque (655244) | about 6 years ago | (#24937611)

Does this mean that someday soon, I may see speeds in excess of 768K/384K [1] to my very own home? You know, what AT&T calls "High Speed Internet?" Oh, frabjous joy!

1. Actual speeds based on DSL synch rate, may vary, and are not guaranteed. Many factors affect speed. Service and speed not available in all areas.

Clearly biased (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937625)

Pfft, he's OBVIOUSLY biased. Where are Akamai's headquarters located? Cambridge, Massachusetts. And where is that? I rest my case.

Re:Clearly biased (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | about 6 years ago | (#24937659)

I'm going to go ahead and assume that the director of a marketing agency has left his hometown at least once in his life, possibly more.

More trunk lines (1)

suck_burners_rice (1258684) | about 6 years ago | (#24937703)

The best way to increase the available bandwidth is to run more trunk lines and increase the number of connections between individual switching stations. The goal should be that every U.S. city with a population of 100,000 or more should eventually have a direct trunk to every other such U.S. city. Such a direct connection will reduce the number of hops, but more importantly, there will be that many additional "lanes" of traffic to get the data where it needs to go.

Where do they get this "most connected" number? (1)

Loopy (41728) | about 6 years ago | (#24937731)

Is that per capita? Square miles covered as a percentage of the country's total size? I have more subjective issues with bandwidth and access reliability when traveling in the London/Cambridge, Paris, Taiwan and Ireland than I do at my Grandmother's cabin out in BFE, Alabama, or just about any other hotel I've stayed at recently in the US. Not being combative, just curious where this study is that I can reference when I see this "most connected" phrase thrown out.

Wake Up and Smell The News +1, Helpful (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24937751)

Your first premise is wrong. There is NO United States of America.

The United States of America has collapsed financially,
economically, and constitutionally; The criminals-in-Congress have simply decided to NOT announce it for fear the revolution WILL be televised.

Cordially,
Filipino Monkey

Seriously, you expect me to believe that? (2, Interesting)

fldrniko (1065168) | about 6 years ago | (#24937783)

Sure I use to have my house fully connected with cable. I loved it. Six years ago I decided to move to the country. Having the belief system that America was great when it came to internet connectivity I just assumed that where ever I moved I could plug into high speed internet. Not the case, in rural Florida. In fact, I am paying $130+ a month for business internet services via Hughes.net. While waiting for a page to load I was able to load my cloths in the wash, collect the mail, feed my horse and brush my teeth. This is business class folks! The chance of any other competing service entering the market here is null. So while the city folks are enjoying there cheap access and complaining about their bandwidth, I am blowing at clouds to go away and being held hostage by the mafiosoâ(TM)s of the internet world.

As fast as the telco can rip out copper (2, Interesting)

harrie_o (1350423) | about 6 years ago | (#24937811)

My big telco keeps bugging me to get rid of my DSL ($19/month for life plus a landline so about $41/month total I need to landline til Feb for my analog 2000-era TiVo). My rabbit ears are working fine for all the major networks since I am near a major city. Look forward to converter box for digital over the air, too.

I would love to go to fibre after they open the network so that other ISPs can sell data services and only honest competition is what keeps prices low.

Can you believe some dummies are shelling out $104/month for STARTERS for basic fibre cable TV + internet when you can get TV for free over the air here (lots more choices with the converter box for over the air, too) and internet for less than half that?

Without competition, I see telco starting to charge fibre disconnect/reconnect charges to discourage people from flipping back to the cable tv vendor for price.

The phone company doesn't offer any guarantee on price for fibre beyond basic bait-and-switch after you are wired up they intend to up the charges forever just like my original cable was $6.95/month in 1986 stayed until when I left in 2005 it had inflated to $90/month with no change in content.

One of the biggest problems as of late (1)

TJ_Phazerhacki (520002) | about 6 years ago | (#24937853)

The major providers around here seem to have wizened up that small business owners can have a premium residential connection for a lower price than a commercial one.

So they have restricted their really nice broadband in the city and will only offer higher connection speeds with a business plan.

Broadband in America (1)

DigitalisAkujin (846133) | about 6 years ago | (#24937919)

The way I see it, broadband in America is a very dynamic game of chess.

Urban centers almost always get the best Internet connections first but are generally tied down to one or two ISPs available in the area. Those two usually compete for customers by increasing services but in some markets they both stagnate. Since local governments emulate each other in the US they are slowly starting to experiment and switch to what works but only the Federal or state level can really do what must be done to get rural customers some real broadband.

The problem is the cost of wiring up a single home. In the city it's easy because you have to invest much less money on equipment per person living in a certain area. But in Urban areas the cost of wiring up a home could be upwards of thousands of dollars and the broadband companies are not very likely to go into those markets. The State or Federal government should subsidize this cost by taxing Internet connections across the board. It would only add about 1-2 dollars per connection but allow the government to put more money into infrastructure.

Why bother?
Well it's becoming increasingly clear that the Internet increases education and wealth in areas where it's penetration is deep. The investment in Internet infrastructure therefore becomes an "across-the-board" investment in the health, education, and wealth of the country and it's citizens which pays back in the years to come as increased tax revenue due to higher productivity.

Don't tax my Internet man!
This might be the argument coming from the community in general and probably also the Republic/Libertarian view point as "less government". While I respect this view point in many areas I don't believe it's warranted here. The extreme of this view point generally hold that the Government should do nothing but keep the peace, protect the Borders, and deliver the mail. Unfortunatly this idea is preposterous in this day and age. America only become a super power by making investments in the common good. You can't say "we are the greatest and will always be the greatest" with a straight face if you're not willing to invest in this common good. The parallels are obvious: Tax on oil for roads & highways, inventing the Internet, discovering nuclear fusion, landing on the moon, the marshal plan, the new deal.

Indeed it's laughable the amount of money spent on the LHC when we spend that daily in Iraq.

Which is what? (1)

Quantos (1327889) | about 6 years ago | (#24937959)

I live in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Our real only choice is to use the cable provided internet service from Shaw.ca. They have a service which claims to double your download speed. This uses software to temporarily increase your bandwidth from anything from 10 to 20 seconds, and barely makes any difference to a download. Unless you are willing to spend $93.00 a month for increased bandwidth, which is nonsense considering that all speeds depend on the server and hops and remote latency. Check out the services at http://www.shaw.ca/en-ca/ProductsServices/Internet/Nitro/ [www.shaw.ca] I'm outraged that the service that I used to pay $40.00/month now costs over $50.00, and my current service for the same price has dropped to less than dsl speeds - as a current customer I am not qualified to receive any of the 'free' or 'discounted' services and to upgrade my service I have to buy the modem that they are giving away.

I don't think speed is the issue. (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | about 6 years ago | (#24938223)

I don't think the adverage American user will notice the difference with a 10MB down line or a 2MB down line. Truth of the matter is, theya re at the mercy of latency, and how quickly data can be sent back and forth.

I had a 5MB down connection that I just changed to a 1.5MB. Why? Because unless I'm torrenting or downloading, I won't notice the difference surfing a web page or playing a video game.

Most people don't even torrent or download much. Your everyday American typically cares about a few web pages like Ebay or Amazon, their bank account and that's about it.

I think (Like another poster said) we need to worry about getting hi-speed internet into areas that have dial-up.

cost/bandwidth (1)

kingduct (144865) | about 6 years ago | (#24938283)

I am sure that there will continue to be newer faster services. However, when AT&T raised my DSL price this year, it was the first time ever that my price for internet service went up without the service itself improving. In fact, over a period of 15 years (1993-early 2008), usually the price went down AND the service got faster and more reliable.

Those times have ended. It was pretty disappointing to get that bill with the price hike the day after seeing AT&T's profits reported as having gone up significantly. Of course, there is a relationship between the two...I expect that with the sellout of the governmental regulatory agencies, we will continue to see more advanced service, and that people will be forced to pay far more, just as they already do with cable TV.

Qwest FTTN (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24938385)

My Qwest FTTN became available at least 3-4 months ago. I upgraded from 1.5 to 12mbps. It required a new modem which Qwest gave me free of charge, a Motorola 3347 with built in wireless. I opted not to go with 20mbps because I doubt I'll need it for the time being. Nice to know it's waiting and ready too.

Not sure about the caps, but I'm not a hog anyway. We use it for 2 vpn connections to work. No issues whatsoever.

Bundling is nice. Qwest now has what I consider best in class services. Qwest for landline/LD, Verizon for wireless phone, DirecTV for TV. Why wouldn't I want to bundle and save? And they don't raise prices every 6 months like Comcast does.

Let me do the numbers (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 6 years ago | (#24938409)

Still 10 to 20 times more expensive than nations like Japan and South Korea and even Canada.

Um, better? Maybe.

Good?

No.

Does that mean... (1)

diegocn (1109503) | about 6 years ago | (#24938415)

we will soon have real "unlimited" high speed Internet?

Yeah Right (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 6 years ago | (#24938747)

My ISP must be in with those creating Duke Nuke Em, there's no FIOS near my neighborhood.

simple explanation (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | about 6 years ago | (#24938899)

Comcast installed their sandvine traffic shaping shit so they can cook the books.

When you visit a site that comcast knows is monitoring, they open up with their powerboost shit. On speedtest.net I rarely get below 70Mbps. A lot of the time, I get above 100Mbit.

When I'm using the internet for real, I just don't see anything even remotely that fast.

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