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Major ISPs Seek To Lower Broadband Definition

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the much-easier-than-providing-quality-service dept.

Networking 426

denobug sends word that major internet service providers in the US are seeking to redefine the term 'Broadband' to mean a much lower speed than in other developed nations. In recent filings with the FCC, Comcast and AT&T both came out in support of a reduced minimum speed. 'AT&T said regulators should keep in mind that not all applications like voice over internet protocol (VoIP) or streaming video, that require faster speeds, are necessarily needed by unserved Americans.' On the other hand, Verizon argued to maintain the status quo, saying that 'It would be disruptive and introduce confusion if the commission were to now create a new and different definition.' A public interest group called Free Press also filed comments with the FCC, recommending that the bar should be set significantly higher, and evolve in a way that corresponds with technological improvements.

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426 comments

How small is it? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29287709)

Rob Malda's penis is so small that when he first dropped his pants in front of his wife she thought he was a unich.

Re:How small is it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29287957)

Most of us here use Linux.

Re:How small is it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288019)

That's explains the high prevalence of micropenis syndrome in this community.

Re:How small is it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288139)

I still use eunix.

Re:How small is it? (3, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287963)

BROADband?

The term's already been redefined. Breadth - despite popular misconception - has little or no direct bearing on network speed.

Sometimes unreliable, the Wikipedia entry on the term "Broadband" is fairly enlightening on the topic - particularly in defining both the term, and its various relative contexts.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadband [wikipedia.org]

Re:How small is it? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288155)

The term's already been redefined. Breadth - despite popular misconception - has little or no direct bearing on network speed.

You're confused. The term comes from the mathematical and engineering field called "Information Theory". The key result is called the "Nyquist-Shannon Sampling Theorem", which relates the amount of information a certain amount of spectrum (band width) can carry.

Guess what: 2.4GHz signals can only carry so much information. DSL signals are band limited (that is, there is an upper bound on the frequencies at which DSL modems operate). So are cable modems.

Your link explains this much, so I am not sure why you're confused.

The status quo (5, Interesting)

OhHellWithIt (756826) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287711)

What I got from reading my Verizon DSL service agreement was that they were making no warranty at all concerning the actual throughput on my line, regardless of the advertised speed. And they wonder why I don't want to subscribe to FIOS, which seems to have the same disclaimer. It would be interesting to know if other countries' ISPs commit to provide the advertised throughput.

Re:The status quo (1, Insightful)

Drunken Buddhist (467947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287787)

The major difference between our service and theirs is that our plans aren't rated by data transferred per month. In the EU, Japan, even Australia, end users have 5G, 10G, 25G plans et al. We're "unlimited" in the sense that we could download every minute of every day of a month and with the exception of being throttled (by either the company or our flatmates) could hit theoretical maximums well outside the financial means of these international customers.

Our method is to limit traffic use by limiting how much you can use at any one time.

Theirs is to limit traffic use by letting you get whatever you want as fast as you want... but make you pay if you go over a certain line.

God help us if Broadband pricing guidelines become Wireless pricing guidelines.

Re:The status quo (2, Insightful)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288031)

So we are unlimited except for throttling and undocumented caps ? Sounds like a rather brain dead interpretation of unlimited to me. Which ISP do you happen to work for?

Re:The status quo (5, Interesting)

lyml (1200795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288055)

Nonsence.

I pay approximately 17 USD a month for an unlimited 10/10 Mbit/s up/downstream (upgrade to 100/10 for 33 USD a month). I don't even think there is any provider selling limited broadband in Sweden.

As an answer to grandparent, yes I regularly reach topspeed but I guess it would be harder if you have a high bandwidth connection.

Re:The status quo (5, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288399)

The whole point of "broadband" is that it does support streaming audio and video.

If they want to offer some kind of medium-band fast surfing speed, then call it that. Don't try to lie about it.

How about "not quite so-broadband"? Or "grampa-band"?

Politicians love to do this kind of crap, though. Want to divert federal money for the Great Lakes to your precious little local lake? Fine, just get Congress to declare your late a Great Lake For The Purpose of This Bill.

People who make carrot jelly upset you stupidly legally defined jelly to be made with fruit? Fine! Don't get rid of the definition as over-intrusive actions of the government. Rather, just redefine carrots as fruit.

Re:The status quo (2, Informative)

ZsoL (902409) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288073)

In fact (and I can only speak for EU), we get to choose between data-rates and monthly fees. We definitely do have internet plans like in the US, only the average throughput is much higher.

Re:The status quo (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288081)

> In the EU, Japan, even Australia, end users have 5G, 10G, 25G plans et al.

I can't comment on the others, but the connection I had in Japan a couple years ago had no cap. Didn't see any other capped plans either when I was shopping around.

Re:The status quo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288161)

In Sweden we got cheap, fast and unlimited. No fuss, and everyone's happy.
I can download/upload as much as I want on my 100/100 and the cost is the same.

Re:The status quo (1)

Happler (895924) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288621)

Unlimited? Comcast yells if you download/upload too much in one month. Note, that the limit is high (currently 250GB/month) but the fact that there is a limit, is by default not "unlimited". That does limit my effective speed to 768 kbps (96 kBps) which is "slightly" lower then the 12 Mbps (1536 kBps) in download speeds that they sell.

What it really comes down to, is that Comcast is doing both. They are limiting the amount you get per month, and the speed you get it at.

Re:The status quo (2, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287807)

What I got from reading my Verizon DSL service agreement was that they were making no warranty at all concerning the actual throughput on my line, regardless of the advertised speed.

How is that different from any other ISP that does the exact same thing? If you want guarantees on your throughput you're going to have to shell out for a dedicated line.

Re:The status quo (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288503)

Correct. It's not reasonable to expect an ISP to guarantee a certain speed if the line is shared (as if the case with cable and DSLAMs). I have Verizon DSL and except when a truck ran into the switching station and turned it into scrap (knocking out phone service), they've provided exactly what I pay for, so no complaints here.

As for Europe versus United States, making comparisons of tiny EU states (poland, slovak) versus a continent-spanning federation makes little sense. The USA is *big*. It took me 4 days to drive from Boston to Seattle... and another 5 days to go from California back to Boston. And in-between there's a whole lot of nothing. Here are the stats when you compare large federations versus large federations:

Russian Federation 7 Megabits per secomd
E.U., U.S. 6 Mbit/s
Canada, Australia 5
Brazil, China 2
Mexico 1 Mbit/s

And if you prefer to look on a state-by-state basis of the EU, US, and Canada then you get:
1 Sweden 11 Mbit/s
2 Delaware 10
3 Washington 9
4 Netherlands,Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts 8
5 Virginia,New York,Colorado,Connecticut,Arizona, Germany, British Columbia 7 Mbit/s

Re:The status quo (3, Informative)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287867)

While the disclaimer may be in there for FIOS, I have found that every single time I go to download huge files (as in, 13 gigabytes apiece), I consistently get my full 10mb down rate.

When I was on cable, it varied drastically depending on the time of day I was downloading. I have never had more consistent service speeds than I have on FIOS.

Re:The status quo (3, Funny)

jonbtn (530417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287903)

I just recently got my FiOS installed and I am quite happy with my "up to" 15/5 connection, here are my results from speakeasy.net speed test:

Last Result:
Download Speed: 26139 kbps (3267.4 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 9534 kbps (1191.8 KB/sec transfer rate)

Re:The status quo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288091)

That's only there because it's impossible to guarantee throughput. They would get sued into oblivion without some kind of disclaimer.

Re:The status quo (1)

albedoa (1529275) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288175)

As mentioned above, that is no different from every other ISP. The major difference between Verizon and Comcast is that Verizon is actually investing in infrastructure to make those times when you don't reach maximum speeds to be the exception, while Comcast is actively trying to create a tiered system and throttle bandwidth without actually reinvesting any of their revenue into making your connection reach its peak advertised performance. What you got from reading your Verizon DSL service agreement was anything but what really matters.

Ask about "CIR" (Committed Information Rate) (4, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288301)

When I subscribed back in 1999, Verizon only offered 768k down/128k up, and the CIR was 16 Kbps bidirectional. That's right -- they promised that my connection would be at least almost half as fast as a 33.6K modem. Except, of course, when it wasn't working.

Re:The status quo (2, Interesting)

whatajoke (1625715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288355)

Indian here. My ISP delivers at least 50% of max speed during daytime and 100% throughput during night. There is a advisory 100 GB cap, wherein after hitting the limit, you get not more than 50% of max speed in day, but still get 100% max speed during the night. Though I don't know if they gurantee this how many 9's reliability, they have delivered the bandwidth for past few years.

You are clueless (2, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288609)

There is no such thing as "guaranteed" bandwidth on the internet. ALL bandwidth is shared, somewhere.

Your ISP does NOT have 40 megabits of bandwidth for every user. Do you know how much you would be paying if they did? Your connection would be hundres of dollars a month, not $60 or less.

If you want to bitch about the price of bandwidth, bitch to the big telcos that own most of the fiber in the US, and charge exorbitant fees to use it.

If you can't rise to the competition ... (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287741)

... lower the bar

Re:If you can't rise to the competition ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29287873)

sounds like our education system.

Re:If you can't rise to the competition ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288065)

It's ok. I'm redefining my one dollar bills as one hundred dollar bills. It should all even out.

Re:If you can't rise to the competition ... (4, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288121)

I believe this is known as the "Mugabe Strategy." Repeat every 1-2 weeks as necessary.

Re:If you can't rise to the competition ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288315)

"major internet service providers in the US are seeking to redefine the term 'Broadband' to mean a much lower speed than in other developed nations. In recent filings with the FCC, Comcast and AT&T both came out in support of a reduced minimum speed."

Give me a f*cking break....... "Yes, we've decided that Plastic Wrap should be renamed Safety Glass"....

Broadband is technology not speed (2, Informative)

grahammm (9083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287753)

When will these people stop trying to change definitions. Broadband is a technology not a speed. All DSL is broadband, but ethernet and (most) cable is not even though they can offer higher speeds than ADSL.

Re:Broadband is technology not speed (3, Insightful)

anegg (1390659) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287801)

Trying to educate the masses about the difference between "baseband" "broadband" and "wideband" is pretty much useless at this point, IMHO.

Re:Broadband is technology not speed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29287875)

Not necessarily. One way you can educate the public is tell them that broadband allows them to stream their porn real-time.

Re:Broadband is technology not speed (2, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288515)

And irrelevant to what we're talking about, which is consumer high-speed internet offerings that have commonly become known as "broadband". I.e., it's a different meaning to the technical term, deal with it.

Surely the job of any US government "internet quango" would be to mandate a continual year-on-year improvement in "broadband speeds", in terms of urban, extra-urban, and rural locations.

I.e., right now you could have: 10/2 for urban, 5/1 for extra-urban, and 2/0.2 for rural. In two years time that could be 50/5, 20/2 and 4/0.5. You would then have a driving force to improve offerings and ensure that something besides "market forces, aka corporate stagnation once they think things are good enough" drove the development of internet service provision.

Re:Broadband is technology not speed (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287831)

Wikipedia defines its speed as
In data communications
Broadband in data can refer to broadband networks or broadband Internet and may have the same meaning as above, so that data transmission over a fiber optic cable would be referred to as broadband as compared to a telephone modem operating at 56,000 bits per second.

But then again, I come from the internet, me and my good buddy Wik over there aren't very reliable sources.

Re:Broadband is technology not speed (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287993)

56,000 bits per second.

Wouldn't that be 57,344 bits per second?

Though of course good luck to you if you expect to get that much with a dial-up modem....

Re:Broadband is technology not speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288613)

No, it wouldn't.

Datacomms has mostly avoided the tendency to redefine the SI meaning of K. You'll also find that the 128Kbps AAC you are listening to is actually 128000bps, not some ridiculous power of two.

Some sanity does exist!

Re:Broadband is technology not speed (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288013)

Broadband is any system that uses multiple frequencies to allow more than one connection over the same line.

56k modems, or even 9600 baud modems do this, so they are broadband technologies. Ethernet doesn't and as a result, it is generally a lot faster.

Re:Broadband is technology not speed (3, Interesting)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288359)

Dude, you're seriously confused. EVERY signaling system uses multiple frequencies at the same time.

Look up the Shannon-Nyquist Sampling theorem. It establishes that any signal over a single channel is limited by the width of the band that signal can transmit. In particular, you can send less than half as many samples per second as the channel is wide, in hertz.

Telephone modems do NOT use multiple connections. They use a single channel, about as wide as the voice frequencies. DSL does better, pushing the band width (literally the width of the band) up to a few megahertz.

The reason ethernet is faster than a telephone line is merely that the engineering implicit in the ethernet standards (less than 100m cables at the like) ensure that the band used is wide. Things like "inductance" lower a circuit's response to high frequency inputs.

Lies, Damn Lies, and... (5, Insightful)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287767)

It is in the FCC's interest to keep lowering the speed required for something to be classified as "broadband". This allows a greater percentage of the country to have "broadband saturation" and thus, it makes the FCC look like they are doing a great job.

These distortions of statistics are already used by the government to great effect in other areas, such as unemployment and GDP, and the public eat it up.

Re:Lies, Damn Lies, and... (1)

Chibinium (1596211) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288287)

Until someone looks across the Pacific and notices speeds 30x faster than ours, in which case they will be interrogated while they're drinking champagne in a jacuzzi

Re:Lies, Damn Lies, and... (3, Insightful)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288385)

It's not in the FCC's interest. It doesn't have an interest in that respect. People know if they are getting fast and affordable internet access or not and that is what make's the FCC's folks look good to the people. The question is how interested are the FCC commissioners in looking good to "the people" versus those who can help them personally.

It is in the interests of some ISPs the ones who can't or don't want to compete on bandwidth. They may make it in the interest of certain elected representatives to support them via campaign contributions. Those representatives might try to make it in the interests of certain FCC members via future career enticements or rewards or they may play with the FCC's budget or charter. ISPs might even attempt to offer inducements like a lucrative career in lobbying or PR for the compliant commissioner.

So as a member of "the people" we have to do what we can to make it in the interests of our elected representatives to see that we get world class internet access at affordable prices. Also, let us not forget that there are a lot of businesses that benefit from ubiquitous high speed internet access. They should do some lobbying too. We have a convergence of interests.

So what's the problem? (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287783)

I used to limp along with a standard 28.8K modem; but now with my US Robotics 56K V.92 broadband-enhanced supermodem, I cruise along the Information Superhighway at a blazing 56Kbps! Thanks Comcast!

 

Re:So what's the problem? (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287955)

You're expected to mix metaphors here. It's surfing the Information Superhighway. Which, incidentally, is a series of tubes.

Tell them to put a sock in it. (4, Insightful)

odin84gk (1162545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287815)

Every industry does this, including my own. It costs less money to pay off politicians or lobbyists than to upgrade the system. My company pays our lobbyists to modify the laws to favor our system vs the competitors. Politicians listen to the lobbyists because it is easier than doing the research themselves, and the only thing we can do is a massive grass roots effort to make things better. I've got to say that I'm just too lazy to start another one of those. Why can't I just elect someone to take care of these things?

Sad developments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29287833)

America: Now With Lower Standards! Only $29,95!!!

Who cares ... (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287839)

... what they call it? Deceptive? sure ... but users are going to notice the speed immediately when they start surfing the net or downloading items. If Major ISPs lump it all together and call it broadband ... the online community will give it new names ... like "Crappy Broadband" and "Good Broadband"

"Redefining the internet age..." (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287863)

Is it odd that Verizon is now a bit of a hero for trying to maintain the status quo? I wonder how often this happens in other industries. I may have to ask to weigh my quarter-pounder burgers before they're cooked now.

not unusual (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287879)

Just like the agribusinesses trying to change the definition of "organic" so they can cash in on the trend.

Whatever happened to actually making a good product and letting quality do the heavy lifting on the marketing end? I know sometimes a company is left selling a shit sandwich but it seems like these companies go out of their way to turn their products and services into a shit sandwich before they sell them. It's like these companies are all run by secret coprophages and they're spreading the love.

128kb (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287881)

I think for CALEA ('lawful intercept', aka warrant-backed-spying of your traffic, at least in the US), calls broadband anything > 128kbps broadband (or there abouts.. it reminded me of something like shotgunned ISDN lines). The difference being anything less then that they can just get a run-of-the-mill telephone wire tap from the local Bell.

I'm sorta wondering how any definition the FCC passes will get abused in the future. This should be fun to watch.

Lowest Price is Highest Quality? (4, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287887)

What ever happened to quality? What ever happened to people, and companies, recognising that lower cost came at the expense of higher quality? What ever happened to production and purchasing being an optimisation problem with price, quality, speed and other factors thrown into the mix?

All I see nowadays is price, price, price. Price is everything. All encompassing, all considering and the sole and only consideration in nigh every walk of life. Companies are gouging their businesses in order to save pennies whilst their products stagnate or regress. Consumers care not for long term value or even short term utility as price is the first and last arbiter in their purchase decisions.

ISPs in the US seek to redefine broadband because they want their packages to be treated like commodities; like wheat and coffee beans. You don't care where the bean comes from, they're all the same. So you buy the cheapest one. If all internet connection packages are "broadband", can you guess what people are going to do? ISPs aren't the only industry that wants to do this, or indeed that is doing it.

Is anyone nowadays interesting in something more than getting, or providing, the cheapest deal. Is there room left nowadays for an ISP that seeks to provide the fastest and widest piplines for people that are willing to pay that much extra. I know I would be. But is that how our society works anymore? Did it ever work like that? Is there simply no room for companies that don't cater to misers? Should we really be blaming the ISPs here, or should we be blaming ourselves?

Re:Lowest Price is Highest Quality? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288213)

It is a shame that most people understand absolutely nothing about quality and keep spending their money for crap they don't need.

Are we really moving toward Idiocracy (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/)?

Re:Lowest Price is Highest Quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288345)

So you want people to be less influenced by marketing? Maybe you should run a marketing campaign to enlighten them.

Re:Lowest Price is Highest Quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288381)

LOL ... as an American that moved to Sweden and is moving again to Germany, I have to say that most Europeans would agree and find the fixation on price somewhat appalling (especially in clothing).

Re:Lowest Price is Highest Quality? (1)

crazytisay (1283264) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288407)

First of all, ISPs are not operating in a free market. In a free market, customers would optimally want to make a cost/benefit analysis of the competing ISPs, focusing on issues such as quality and technological supremecy, and (gasp) price. However, a large population of people don't actually have a choice of provider when it comes to broadband. ISPs are operating in the broadband market in most areas as an approved monopoly. Since they aren't worried about competition, they can arbitrarily set pricing without even taking quality or customer satisfaction into account. They also have less incentive for innovating and implementing new technologies when they become available.

Re:Lowest Price is Highest Quality? (1)

Digypro (560571) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288429)

It's not that, it's just the cable industry is so inefficient and in bed with government institutions that it has no incentive to innovate quite simply. If the market were to "free up" a bit, we might see some competition pushing for quality.

Re:Lowest Price is Highest Quality? (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288473)

Answers.

>> All I see nowadays is price, price, price. Price is everything. All encompassing, all considering and the sole and only consideration in nigh every walk of life. Companies are gouging their businesses in order to save pennies whilst their products stagnate or regress. Consumers care not for long term value or even short term utility as price is the first and last arbiter in their purchase decisions.

What brand toothbrush do you own? Did you seek recommendations from other before buying it? Are you aware of its features? If not, your purchasing decision should be based on the assumption that it is a low quality, replaceable, and commoditized. See [[Gresham law]].

>> ISPs in the US seek to redefine broadband because they want their packages to be treated like commodities; like wheat and coffee beans. You don't care where the bean comes from, they're all the same. So you buy the cheapest one. If all internet connection packages are "broadband", can you guess what people are going to do? ISPs aren't the only industry that wants to do this, or indeed that is doing it.

This is the opposite of what Comcast, Verizon and AT&T want. They want to maintain what they currently have. However, this is threatened by the idea some people have that "broadband adoption" in the US is low. E.g. if politicians get the whiff that the market is not providing enough broadband, they will legislate. Combine this with the fact that tier 1 and tier 2 service providers do not want stimulus funding (source: http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=180976 [lightreading.com]) and the result is that the incumbents want the standards lowered so that they are not threatened.

Re:Lowest Price is Highest Quality? (1, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288517)

It's the culmination of the Reaganomics era, where everyone "learned" that the almighty dollar was the only thing that mattered, and you get your bonuses based on quarterly performance, not on long-term performance.

Re:Lowest Price is Highest Quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288647)

All I see nowadays is price, price, price. Price is everything. All encompassing, all considering and the sole and only consideration in nigh every walk of life. Companies are gouging their businesses in order to save pennies whilst their products stagnate or regress. Consumers care not for long term value or even short term utility as price is the first and last arbiter in their purchase decisions.

The reason for that is because more and more people are paid less and less compared to the ever increasing inflation resulting in the NEED for lower prices or we have to do without. However copyright and patents are artificially inflating ALL costs at the same time. For an ever larger portion of the "civilized world" (I have to use that term lightly these days imo) this means we do without unless something cheaper comes along.

Just a bit disingenuous... (1)

judolphin (1158895) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287897)

It's just a bit disingenuous to change the definition of a word to meet your own needs. Here's to hoping the FCC sees through it.

Why not? (5, Informative)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287917)

:start rant

We've already done a great job at butchering the term anyway. Most usage doesn't correspond with reality.
  • "bandwidth" is a function of the physical characteristcs of the medium. I.e., with wires, the impedance goes up as the wire gets longer. This changes the wire's ability to transmit high frequencies (it "attenuates" the signal). Even dictionaries get this wrong.
  • "baud" or "symbol rate" is a function of bandwidth and your modulation scheme.
  • "bitrate" is a function of the symbol rate, and also depends on things like your packet structures and encoding schemes (actually, it depends on a LOT of things).
  • "speed" is not a technical term in this context, but most "technical" people equate it with "bitrate". For most other people, "speed" means "how long do I have to wait?"

:end rant

(if you can't complain about this kind of stuff on a website billing itself as "news for nerds", where can you complain?)

But it just goes to show that carriers feel no need to compete. Most of us have no ability to choose the products we want from them, and with Uncle Sam's help, they can keep us from seeing how lame they really are.

Re:Why not? (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288435)

There's (essentially) a one-to-one correspondence between the width of a band and the maximum capacity it can carry. That is why "bandwidth" can legitimately be overloaded now. That's the Nyquist-Shannon Sampling theorem. Hertz aren't very useful units of information capacity anymore, and there is a simple conversion to bits/second.

My suggestion (4, Interesting)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287923)

My suggestion to the FCC was for symmetrical bandwidth to be included in the definition. You can't really have cloud-based services, if you can't effectively move data to the cloud.

I'd personally also like to see a 10Mb/s lower bound. This is 2009 after all, and the telecoms have already been paid for 45Mb/s symmetrical bandwidth to everyone.

Re:My suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288637)

This is 2009 after all, and the telecoms have already been paid for 45Mb/s symmetrical bandwidth to everyone.

No, they haven't. Where did this rumor start?

If you actually check the facts, you'll discover that the government hasn't given the telecoms a single cent towards improving national broadband. Nothing at all.

Why do you think we don't have it already? Because of government regulation making it nearly impossible to lay down new wires. The government never paid any money to the telecoms and has solely acted to stifle innovation and halt progress through over-regulation. Like, say, defining the term "broadband" rather than, oh, I don't know, allowing the people to decide what it means?

VoIP and broadband (2, Interesting)

N7DR (536428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29287981)

AT&T said regulators should keep in mind that not all applications like voice over internet protocol (VoIP) or streaming video, that require faster speeds,

So AT&T says that VoIP requires "faster speeds". Even using G.711 (i.e., uncompressed toll-quality), and including the overhead of the other layers, VoIP requires only ~120kbps. The thing about VoIP is not that it requires high speed, but that it requires low latency.

Once upon a time the string "AT&T" stood for some kind of technical excellence. So, for that matter, did the string "FCC". Now I just want to go hide in a cave while they play their various spin games.

Fuck AT&T (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288005)

Fuck AT&T. Fuck Time Warner. I'm 30 miles outside of Austin stuck on a modem at 24.4 because no one offers anything better. Cellular broadband doesn't work out here. Fuck you all!

Re:Fuck AT&T (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288585)

Why don't you move instead of whining that nobody wants to serve your unprofitable market? Or do you think that the Government should take MY money and give it to someone else so YOU can have broadband?

Move to civilization or enjoy the benefits (fresh air, open skies, ability to play with firearms in the backyard, etc) of living where you currently are and deal with the fact that everything in life is a trade-off.

Re:Fuck AT&T (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288639)

BULLSHIT.

You're just to fucking poor to pay for it. Satellite broadband is available. you chose to live in the middle of nowhere. Get off your ass get a job and buy satellite broadband and STFU.

I really hate low IQ dumbasses like you.

AT&T? GFY. (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288025)

AT&T said regulators should keep in mind that not all applications like voice over internet protocol (VoIP) or streaming video, that require faster speeds, are necessarily needed by unserved Americans.

My mom, who lives less than a mile from a local telco's central office, can't get DSL because they don't care to install broadband-capable equipment in her neighborhood. She's just an ignorant rube who doesn't need all that fancy stuff, unlike the AT&T CEO who undoubtedly needs YouTube to download the daily neurosurgery lessons that fill his Renaissance mind, and who needs Skype to talk to his kids who can't afford telephone service.

Know what? Very, very few people need broadband to their house. However, I bet many people want to fully participate in modern society, but are missing the Internet revolution altogether because it's painful over dialup. To hell with Comcast and AT&T for presuming the right to decide which of their customers need certain services, largely basing such decisions on the customers' zip codes.

Re:AT&T? GFY. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288459)

Sometimes installing broadband capable equipment in the neighborhood is a lot more expensive and complex than it may seem.. Some neighborhoods are piggy-backed off of other neighborhoods by using loading-coils all over the place.. You can't just hop on up there and throw out the loading coils, you have to deploy an entire CO for that neighborhood first.. I was one of the first to jump on Verizon's DSL when they first made it available to my area 2 years ago, before then, my town didn't even have a CO...
With a brand new CO, It still took them a month to get everything working right... But when they were done, it was fantastic and I've been getting 100% of the speeds advertised with no downtime or slowdowns at all... I love my Verizon DSL.. I have a friend who lives about 40 miles east of me (10 minutes south east of Fort Plain, NY) . He lives with Amish people and even he was able to get some limited DSL (768 Kbit) through Frontier. He pays about $100 a month for it and it's no where near as fast as my Verizon DSL, but for him, it's the ONLY broadband options besides Satellite. Cable TV isn't available at all where he is, it's amazing he can get any broadband options at all.... Broadband in the USA still needs A LOT of work..

"Fasterizer" (4, Insightful)

Jerry (6400) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288041)

An ISP in our area is advertising their Internet connection speed by claiming it is "Fasterizer". They hope that term will confuse the clueless into thinking that their .V92 or tier 1 DSL service is as fast as my 10Mb/s cable connection.

21st Century business is all about three things: lying, stealing and bribing Congress with campaign contributions to make those actions legal. I suspect that they are redefining decades old terms & understandings simply so they can justify a large increase it their rate structure for the same old service.

Fifteen years ago the cable and telcos bribed Congress into outlawing local communities from filling in the service gap the private sector was ignoring: a high speecd fiber optic internet connection that would be a public utility. After recieving $200M from Congress to "finish the job", they promptly pocketed the money and forgot the rest. Congress failed to include a non-performance penalty, so they had nothing to lose by just stealing the money. Had the telcos & cable companies had any ethics the average US internet connection would be 20Mb/s or more and costing less than $30/month. Can't build any multi-million dollar luxury homes in the Bahamas at those rates.

In related news... (1)

OpenGLFan (56206) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288061)

In related news, 8th graders petitioned their principal to drop math from the list of required classes, complaining that "it's hard" and would cause an extra 3 hours of homework per week.

Note that if an actual free market for broadband existed, we would have true competition, allowing customers to choose the provider that provided the best pricing, speed, and feature set. It could be as easy as allowing municipalities to maintain large bundles of fiber through a city, exactly the same way they do with roads. (But cheaper, since you don't need huge roadworking machines and tons of asphalt.)

Unfortunately, our elected officials are honest, so once they've been bribed they stay bribed.

America has challenges these days (5, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288101)

Nobody could expect us to keep up in education or communications with the prime movers of the Technology Universe, Japan and South Korea. It's just not realistic. We should be happy that our roads are paved and are children is learning.

Re:America has challenges these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288447)

Where do you live in the US? Our roads fall apart constantly and even the patches are bumpy. I don't even bother putting a nice radio in my car anymore -- I can't hear it.

Yup, America... whee. Moving into a Dark Age faster every year on every front and in every sector.

News in comparison (5, Informative)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288129)

In Hungary, T-online has announced today that they're rolling out 80mbit FTTH to 180-200k subscribers by the end of the year. (This is a country of 10M).

They've also changed the minimum package from 2 to 5mbit, bumped up the non-fibre/vdsl package to 15mbit and drastically increased the minimum guaranteed bandwidth to 1mbit for the 5mbit connection and to 5mbit for the 15mbit connection.

Personally, I pay 50 EUR / mo for IPTV and 33mbit VDSL. I do not consider anything below 8mbit "broadband" these days.

Re:News in comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288383)

In Romania I pay 10 Euros for a real IP, and a 4 Mbyte connection :)

Re:News in comparison (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288611)

This is what happens when you don't roll out widely deployed internet service until the technology is more mature.

Here in the US, we have internet infrastructure that is 20+ years old, that is "good enough" for most people. There is little incentive to roll out better broadband (though this is changing, as the use of bandwidth has changed).

Yes, your speeds are good. This is largely because T-online (and Deutsche Telecom, their majority owners) were feeling the pressure from other ISPs in 2002-2004. Combined with a period of high economic growth, T-online was able to roll out true broadband profitably because of the huge numbers of people just signing up for broadband internet of any kind. Here in the US, we haven't had the luxury of competition among broadband ISPs until very recently, as Verizon has rolled out FiOS in areas served by the cable monopolies. We also haven't had a significant amount of customers migrating to broadband all at once -- people don't like to change their utility providers, so adoption is slow.

Because of competition from Verizon and other fiber optic providers, I expect bandwidth in the US to improve in the next decade, now that we have some competition. But who knows -- two players in a local market will only lead to very small incremental improvements.

At any rate, you Magyars have a nice situation over there right now. We'll see what things look like in 20 years... will it then be Hungary's turn to be behind the upgrade curve, instead of the US's?

Definition is irrelevant. (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288197)

Whether broadband is defined as greater than 128 kpbs or 128 Gpbs makes little difference (ok, neglecting subsidies and such). Broadband is just a marketing term like low sodium or fuel efficient. It's the actual throughput of the service that counts. For example, I'd take 100 mpbs labeled as "slow" over 2 mbps broadband any day.

What is really needed is competition with a solid metric to compare services. For a metric, it should be something like the minimum throughput for 99% of customers 95% of the time (yeah, 1% of customers do worse and all do worse but only 5% of the time).

Getting actual competition in place, uh, that's beyond my pay grade.

Re:Definition is irrelevant. (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288389)

Honestly, for my applications latency is a larger concern. I could get by with a low latency 128kbps link, but a high latency one like Hughesnet would be useless. But that isn't something thats really talked about in marketing materials much.

Redefine the dollar too then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29288313)

Here from the Netherlands (or Europe, for that matter), I am more amazed every day how you all in the US put up with this stuff..

A difference in price, availability and quality: too bad for the US customers, but that's how it is. But a redefinition of terms because companies can't live up to them?

That's like redefining the meter because companies producing rulers can't get their products larger than 90 cm.

We don't need no stinkin' infrastructure (2, Interesting)

dedazo (737510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288321)

This allows the !@#$%&'s to scale back the amount of infrastructure they need to build out to serve their customers, while still charging everyone exorbitant prices for simple text messages and keep on making a killing for their shareholders. ??? Profit!

F'em.

Why dummy it down? (1)

realsilly (186931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288483)

I used to believe that this country would pride itself on being at the bleeding edge of technology, but now I hear more and more about how other countries have provided for their citizen in the area of technology far better than we do here in the USA. In many other countries, you don't get dropped cell phone calls. In many other countries (yes smaller) they provide wireless everywhere. Heck we can't even get digital or basic cable to some rural areas of this country.

Simply, because this country is all about profit. What's the least amount of goods and services we can provide and charge the highest amount for? We are charged large fees for telephone / cellphone / text / internet services. Cable providers are outrageous too. Where we should flourish in modern technology, we have become stagnant.

This is just shameful (1)

ZuchinniOne (1617763) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288535)

Imagine if when the national highway system was built ... if the builders asked to only build enough lanes to just barely serve the parts of America with the least number of cars.

Broadband is critical infrastructure and if the US is serious about being a modern nation we need to catch up ... not fall further behind

New business model: (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288571)

Create a new ISP with a *guaranteed* minimum bandwidth!
Offer it to *everyone*.

But detail everywhere and exactly, where the money you would have to pay to get it, would go!
Everything. Which material, which work, external contractors, taxes, etc.
You have that data in your business's database anyway. It's easily automatable.
Nearly everything of that ISP would be automated anyway. And client-owned too, in a way.

If you live in the swamp seas of east-ass-hicksville or Gaylord, KS, you will then have the choice to tunnel it trough other ISPs and pay their price, or lay your own wire, and pay that.
Therefore an offer would be, to commit to a specific user-defined payment, so as soon as there are enough people to finance the construction that part of the line, it would be built. Other choices would include buying a local ISP, etc.

That sickens me (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288619)

Once again we see businesses seeking not to improve their quality of products and services, but to merely boost the appearance of the quality of their products and services by changing definitions.

We see it happening in food. We see it happening in data storage. We have been seeing this in ISPs already with their deceptive and even fraudulent use of the word "unlimited" to describe usage.

Isn't it about time we reign this behavior in with tighter laws regarding deceptive practices such as these? What does "unlimited" mean to most people? If your advertising doesn't fit that definition, you should be fined and forced to pay restitution to your victims. I don't care that "megabytes" aren't based on the notion that mega = 1,000,000. We can't have different standards for RAM and Disk storage. [whatsabyte.com] The standard had been set from the earliest days and we should either stick with it or unify under a new standard. But mixed standards is a pain in the ass and serves only to deceive and/or confuse people. And don't get me started on food.

There exists "generally accepted meanings" for terms and words and every time I see marketers attempting to manipulate meanings to serve their own interests, it sickens me. It should not be allowed and should be punishable under the law.

Bonneville Power and Fiber (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 4 years ago | (#29288625)

This reminds me of an incedent here in Oregon a few years back when Bonneville Power Authority was putting fiber in the ground supposedly to meet a projected forecast. The telcoms evidently believed they had an alterior motive of delivering cheap fast internets to the rural masses, claiming the amount of fiber being laid was "excessive". A court injunction evidently halted the project. Ironic, that they have no energy to improve the infrastructure, but plenty when it comes to halting others attempts at addressing that lack.
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