Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

'Bandwidth Divide' Could Bar Some From Free Online Courses

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the no-learning-for-you dept.

Education 222

An anonymous reader writes "The Bandwidth Divide is a form of what economists call the Red Queen effect referring to a scene in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass when Alice races the Red Queen. As the Red Queen tells Alice: 'It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!' Keeping up with digital technology is like that race — it takes a continual investment of money and time just to keep up with the latest, and an exceptional amount of work to get ahead of the pack. 'The question is, What is the new basic?' said one researcher. 'There will always be inequality. But 100 years after the introduction of the car, not everybody has a Ferrari, but everyone has access to some form of motorized transportation through buses.' Well, not everyone, but even fewer people have the online equivalent. Colleges considering MOOCs should remember that."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

more entitlements (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43074705)

here we go again

Whining Divide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075629)

Meanwhile, in related news, the Whining Divide could bar some people from WAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaAAAAAAAaaaaaHHHHHHH!!!
WAAAaaaaaAAAAAAAAaaaaaaahhHHHHHHhhh!

Researchers have said they're working on solutions to address this.

Internet = Utility (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43074721)

Simple as that.

Re:Internet = Utility (1, Troll)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074773)

Yea cause heavily regulated utilities are such a great example of efficient operation as well as champions of innovation.

Re:Internet = Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43074857)

What innovations do we need in the last mile? Fiber to the home with 10gbps capability. Let the homewoner pay for thier end of the hookup and buy a class of bandwidth. Much of the "innovation" from telcos is figuring out how to.charge.you for the same shit you got for free. Give ppl a big fat pipe and let someone else sell them the sevices they run on it.

Re:Internet = Utility (5, Insightful)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074909)

Yea cause heavily regulated utilities are such a great example of efficient operation as well as champions of innovation.

I don't want innovation from my ISP. All I want from them is an unfiltered, public IP Address, at the bandwidth they advertised.

Re:Internet = Utility (4, Insightful)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074969)

Regulate out any incentive toward innovation and you can be assured that the advertised 14400 bps is all you're ever going to get.

Re:Internet = Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075071)

We already pay them to build new infrastructure. It is their fault for not doing what they were told to do, and the politicians for not enforcing the deals. Your strawman makes it sound like as a utility, ISPs could charge for usage instead of a general fee (they's want to grow the network), or be regulated into using a percent of yearly revenue for infrastructure.

Re:Internet = Utility (2)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075165)

YEa, back in the Clinton years they got tax money from users and tax breaks from the Government with the expectation that they would beef up the infrastructure to keep us as #1... Now we've fallen way behind and they pocketed the money.

Re:Internet = Utility (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075163)

Regulate out any incentive toward innovation and you can be assured that the advertised 14400 bps is all you're ever going to get.

If you think about that for a second, you'll realize it's kind of dumb. If a behemoth like AT&T was capable of innovation, they wouldn't have been caught flat-footed by the new technology of the Internet. Hell it took them years to bully their way into the ISP market before they just decided to destroy all competition.

If they're going to benefit from running wires on public land, or using public spectrum, then they need to become a public utility.

Or, break them into tiny pieces so we can have actual competition in the ISP space again. Funny how people who would claim to worship the "free market" aren't really concerned about anti-competitive activity of these anti-free market corporations.

Re:Internet = Utility (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075313)

If they're going to benefit from running wires on public land, or using public spectrum, then they need to become a public utility.

The joke is that the regulated parts of the telco industry are now pushing as aggressively as possible to switch their entire infrastrucute over to internet protocols so that they aren't regulated anymore.
AT&T recently made a FCC submission requesting that they not have to continue supporting their switched telephone network (TDM).
Here's all the responses for and against [fcc.gov]

They'll still be using wires on public land and providing phone service over *copper wires, just not under the auspices of "legacy" FCC regulations.
I.E. if AT&T gets their way, they'd no longer have a legal obligation to continue wired phone service to the middle of Montana or even the poor part of town.

*only a fraction of U-Verse customers have fiber to the home

Re:Internet = Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075693)

If you think about that for a second, you'll realize it's kind of dumb. If a behemoth like AT&T was capable of innovation, they wouldn't have been caught flat-footed by the new technology of the Internet. Hell it took them years to bully their way into the ISP market before they just decided to destroy all competition.

If they're going to benefit from running wires on public land, or using public spectrum, then they need to become a public utility.

Or, break them into tiny pieces so we can have actual competition in the ISP space again. Funny how people who would claim to worship the "free market" aren't really concerned about anti-competitive activity of these anti-free market corporations.

I'm really not sure where you are going with this one. If you ever took an economics class on monopolies you would know that behemoth publicly regulated monopolies like ATT still found ways to extract monopoly profits from their business. During the monopoly days, ATT was restricted to a set % profit, but that didn't stop them from spending a lot on required technological upgrades or R&D (which could be deducted as an expense). Now you can argue that this is a good use of monopolistic profits if you like, but it usually doesn't produce much innovation. R&D tends to be focused on improvements of the paradigm (better switches, better rotary dials) rather than out of the box invention.

Re:Internet = Utility (5, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075171)

Wait, you think it was ISPs that pioneered faster connection speeds? They fought it every step of the way because they didn't understand it.

Without the regulations, the big broadband providers would turn the Internet into cable television. They had their chance to create a real worldwide network, and gave us "bundles" of channels where we have to pay for stuff we don't want to protect their revenues. Do you forget how they had to scramble to catch up with the Internet? What the hell do you think they "innovated"?

The big ISPs are a threat to anything like a free market. The last thing they want is competition.

Re:Internet = Utility (2)

Eskarel (565631) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075315)

I always find this comment somewhat amusing from Slashdot posters.

Bundling is a pain in the rear, but pretty much everyone on this site with cable television benefits from it. Do you really think that most of the channels we watch would exist without bundling? I'd hazard a guess that with the possible exception of the food channel, any channel remotely educational or special interest would be gone without bundling, because almost no one would sign up for them.

Re:Internet = Utility (4, Insightful)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075431)

I always find this comment somewhat amusing from Slashdot posters.

Bundling is a pain in the rear, but pretty much everyone on this site with cable television benefits from it. Do you really think that most of the channels we watch would exist without bundling? I'd hazard a guess that with the possible exception of the food channel, any channel remotely educational or special interest would be gone without bundling, because almost no one would sign up for them.

I call bullshit on losing Discovery and History channel. As for the others; why do you find it necessary to artificially prop up specialty channels?!
If the user base isn't there to support it, it should go, plain and simple. Either pass on the true cost to the customer or axe it.

Furthermore, what percentage of channels show their own in-house content and how much comes from shows that were shopped around? AMC's flagship series Breaking Bad -- made by Sony. If AMC the channel didn't exist, the show could still be shopped around to another channel. Maybe eliminating channels would clean up the ratio of quality shows on the channels that do exist?

Re:Internet = Utility (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075553)

Exactly...

If some niche channel can't support itself why should I have to pay out to support them when I don't use them?

Re:Internet = Utility (2)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075061)

I don't want innovation from my ISP. All I want from them is an unfiltered, public modem access at the baud rate they advertised.

Re:Internet = Utility (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075145)

Let the phone, tablet and computer industries innovate.

All we need from the ISPs is bandwidth, which is delivered via wires on public land or via public airwaves.

They shouldn't be delivering content, selling ads or partnering with handset manufacturers.

Since the big telcos have proved they are incapable of functioning in a free market, then they need to become public utilities. The last thing we need is any of them getting any bigger.

Re:Internet = Utility (2)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075245)

Yea cause heavily regulated utilities are such a great example of efficient operation as well as champions of innovation.

While not wanting to see internet become a utility per se, it is difficult to see how doing so would be any worse then what we have now. This country invented the internet andled for a long long time in access. In the 2000s we ceded control of the Internet to the modern ISP ( as opposed to the initial ISPs, for a long time I used Interaccess and for the most part had reliable inexpensive service ). Now the US has become a third world country.

Let me also point out that one of these companies basically controlled telephonics till the mid 70s-early 80s. The owned all the phones and charged for every extension ( they also measured the impedance of the lines to make sure people were not adding illegal extensions ). If that had still been in place in the 90s, the internet would have been restricted to businesses, universities, and public librariies.

Re:Internet = Utility (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075155)

My dialup account and phone service costs $79 a month. I've lived here 25 years (300 months) - no cable, no DSL and I'm about 6 miles from two different medium sized towns. There are about 50 houses on this road and maybe a hundred on the road you would take into one of the towns. Broadband.gov said I have broadband (although I was allowed to toggle that on the website). Bellsouth/AT&T tells *me* that it isn't available, but I can get wireless (which presently is spotty and capped anyway). I could get satellite but you still need a phone to upload - it's just a reciever. I've paid about 20,000 dollars in phone bills in my time here, so wtf? I'd move but then I'd have bills - this land and house are paid for, and nice although not that valuable not to mention there there is no broadband... it's sort of a dealbreaker too. I don't even talk about it because then I become the 'dialup guy' and have to suffer through people who consume continuous streams of mildly entertaining spyware riddled content 24/7, constantly dodging commercials, showering me with pity.

Re:Internet = Utility (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075271)

You poor thing. I feel so sorry for you. ;^)

Re:Internet = Utility (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075453)

Hey fag, fuck off and die.

Re:Internet = Utility (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075253)

This is the reason I have for years promoted the idea that software engineers should design better (more efficient) software. Today's web applications are bloated crap designed and built in high-bandwidth areas of the world.

Universal Service for Broadband (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43074751)

I find it Intereresting and disturbing that in the US we provide "Universal Service" for many old technologies - US Mail, Analog Telephones, and T1s, but we don't even have a discussion about universal broadband.

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (1, Flamebait)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074763)

I find it Intereresting and disturbing that in the US we provide "Universal Service" for many old technologies - US Mail, Analog Telephones, and T1s, but we don't even have a discussion about universal broadband.

I'm sorry, don't you understand Free Market? There's money to be made here... What are you? Some kind of leach?

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075057)

Free market? Ever heard of the FCC? Or is this just another sadly limp attempt at trolling the US by screaming "free market" when next to nothing that is legal for sale or trade in the US actually exists in a free market environment?

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075239)

If you want universal access, even in rural places where infrastructure costs will push profitability decades away, the you should not rely on free market to do it. Would you refute that?

But as I understand, the US telecom market is neither a free market, not a government-controlled public service. It is a mix of the bad sides of both approach: profit-seeking private operators that do not have to compete with each others.

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074817)

We don't have a discussion about universal cell phone access or universal groceries access either. That's because private companies are providing it just fine. Just about everyone in the US has access to at least basic level of broadband service if they want it.

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (1, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074887)

We don't have a discussion about universal cell phone access...

Check your cell phone bill next time. You'll see a line on there for something like "Universal Service Fee" which is a tax the phone companies pass on to you, so somebody can get their "Obamaphone".

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (4, Interesting)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074911)

Yes, I know this was started under Reagan for land lines, later transitioned to cell phones under Bush, but everybody who has one now thinks it's because of Obama.

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075193)

Not really. Obamaphone is just what the delusional wingnuts call it because it fits their bizarre narrative..

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075753)

Ahh, "narrative" -- 2011 called, and they want their buzzword back

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075471)

You stupid mother fuckers are soo tedious.

You should educate yourself [wikipedia.org] before you open your steaming pie hole.

Can't Get My Fat Lazy Ass Out of Bed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075677)

I'm more concerned about the Can't-Get-My-Fat-Lazy-Ass-Out-of-Bed divide. It's really demoralizing to some of us who've been left bed-ridden, watching life pass us by.

Here I am wasting my life on Slashdot, when I could be living a much more enriching and fulfilling life.

Please donate -- because An Ass Is a Terrible Thing to Waist

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074903)

Not really, around here it was only in the last year or two that some of the neighborhoods received upgrades from 1.5mpbs maximum download rates. And Seattle was one of the most connected cities in the country. 1.5mbps is insufficient to stream with decent quality these days without spending a ton of time waiting for the video to buffer.

Every other option has a cap that would prevent access to this sort of service.

So, no, not everybody has access to basic broadband service if they want it, 1.5mbps was barely acceptable 10 years ago.

And when all is said and done, we've paid for proper access to be installed through much of the country, the companies that have been providing it have done an abysmal job of provisioning services. I could understand middle of nowhere Wyoming not having proper service, but in the middle of well off neighborhoods in the middle of cities?

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (5, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075105)

So, no, not everybody has access to basic broadband service if they want it, 1.5mbps was barely acceptable 10 years ago.

Thats almost twice the bandwidth needed for 480p youtube as tested just moments ago using the free educational video made by sixtysymbols on transistors (link to video [youtube.com] )

Note that the MAXIMUM quality of these videos is 480p, and the final raw badwidth count (includes packet overhead and so on) was 98.1KB/sec which is about 785kbps.

It seems to me and I think I have shown it to be true that people are actually crying about the availability of highest quality media, and not so much access. That these two distinct things get equated is the consequence of people so easily stooping into the realm of intellectual dishonesty in the name of wants instead of needs.

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075377)

Perhaps theoretically, in practice, even with my 5mbps connection, I rarely see speeds that fast.

And considering how much the taxpayers have paid to greedy ISPs, I think it's perfectly understandable to demand something for it.

Re:Universal Service for Broadband (1)

CncRobot (2849261) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074905)

We don't have universal access to cell phones [youtube.com] . Did that change in the last couple of months?
Or universal access to grocies [wikipedia.org] . Again that would be news to me.

What we don't have is universal access to Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Guess you missed Obama phones, with 41% fraud (0, Troll)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075033)

We don't have a discussion about universal cell phone access or universal groceries access either.

I guesd you're not familiar with Obama Phones. 4G is now an entitlement. That's where the $12.50 / month "universal access fee" you pays goes. When the FCC looked into it, at least 41% of recipients aren't actually eligible - they make more than enough to buy their own phones, but they had you buy them one instead.

As far as universal groceries, 11% of Americans recieve food stamps, and grocery-related entitlements cost about 9% of the total GDP. For readers not familiar with economics jargon, for every $100 you earn, roughly $20 of that goes to pay for someone else's bills through various taxpayer funded programs.

Re:Guess you missed Obama phones, with 41% fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075149)

Hey, it buys votes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio

I'm entitled, bitches!

Re:Guess you missed Obama phones, with 41% fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075157)

I'm fairly certain nothing you said is true. You should probably try to be more well-read, or less out-spoken.

Re:Guess you missed Obama phones, with 41% fraud (1)

CncRobot (2849261) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075185)

Lets see, I'm usually the one who likes to look up outrageous claims myself, but his didn't seem outrageous.

Phone fraud [wsj.com] runs about 41% of people getting subsidized phones shouldn't qualify.
Lets look at food stamps [nbcnews.com] . You are correct, he did get that one wrong. Its 15% not the 11% he claimed.

So it appears he is well read and out-spoken. What does that make you?

Re:Guess you missed Obama phones, with 41% fraud (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075291)

That makes the previous poster what we now refer to as a 'low information voter'

Re:Guess you missed Obama phones, with 41% fraud (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075327)

Phone fraud [wsj.com] runs about 41% of people getting subsidized phones shouldn't qualify.

That is *not* what that article claims. 59% were verified eligible, the rest were unverified. Unverified is not the same as fraudulent or unqualified. In this case, it just means that they failed to respond to an FCC survey.

Bus example (2)

poity (465672) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075025)

Would the equivalent not be a public library? Bandwidth isn't an issue (at least at my tiny local branch) since I see people there stream videos on their Facebook and Youtube all the time. Which makes me think access isn't as much of an issue as converting people who consume to people who invest in themselves. Now, global access disparity is another issue, and it'll take more than the US alone to deal with it.

Closed on weekends (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075485)

How can someone who works or goes to school Monday through Friday visit a public library that's closed evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays?

Re:Closed on weekends (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075565)

I have always wondered why places like Libraries and many stores are open during the time when most people are at school or work?

My bank keeps such short hours that I have to take off work early just to visit.

Where are these people? (1, Informative)

jamesl (106902) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074753)

The difference between those who have access to fast connections and those who have only dial-up speeds or access via a cellphone is "bigger than people think," he said.

Quick. Name three people you know (not just people you've heard of) who fall into the above category because "fast connections" are not physically available to them.

Re:Where are these people? (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074781)

Depends on what you mean by "available". If you mean "geographically available", then I can think of a few dozen people I know who are limited to slow dial-up or spotty satellite that doesn't work half the time due to weather. If you mean "financially available" then I can think of a few dozen people that might be able to scrape it together each month, but it would be a really poor financial choice.

Re:Where are these people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43074883)

The point is, they're not people you know, dear slashdot reader.

Re:Where are these people? (2)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074893)

What makes you think this is a first world issue? "We" only make up about 1/7th of the world's population.

I realize that this may come as a shock to you, but the world is bigger than you seem to think.

Re:Where are these people? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075111)

Yes, lets worry about getting broadband to the impoverished instead of food, clean water, and antibiotics.

Re:Where are these people? (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075279)

Once they have broadband Internet they can order food, water, and clothes from Amazon - problem solved! /sarc

Balassa-Samuelson (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075495)

Once they have broadband Internet they can order food, water, and clothes from Amazon

That's not so easy if the area they live in doesn't have regular mail service due to lack of reliable roads. Nor is it easy if their country has an undervalued currency [wikipedia.org] due to not having much of an export sector [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Where are these people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075125)

And the world has got along just fine without worrying about the other 6billion... and it would be markedly worse if we had to worry about that many more.

Re:Where are these people? (1)

Jaktar (975138) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074919)

My manager, his boss, and at least 3 of the operations department plus myself.

Well, that wasn't hard.

Re:Where are these people? (2)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074927)

The difference between those who have access to fast connections and those who have only dial-up speeds or access via a cellphone is "bigger than people think," he said.

Quick. Name three people you know (not just people you've heard of) who fall into the above category because "fast connections" are not physically available to them.

My Uncle Frank, my friend Diedre's parents (I've met them), and my friend Darrun. You probably don't know them.

Re:Where are these people? (2)

Dynedain (141758) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074931)

My brother, his wife, my aunt and her 2 kids.

My brother and his wife live within the city limits of one of the 10 largest cities (by population) in the US. Yet his options are dial-up, or cellular data. And no-one is offering unlimited cellular data plans in the region anymore.

Yet a facility half a mile further out of town than him can get fiber. Rural broadband coverage in the US is shit because only a limited number of properties immediately adjacent to switching points can actually get any connectivity.

Re:Where are these people? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075333)

"within the city limits" means nothing.

Re:Where are these people? (2)

Dynedain (141758) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075681)

Thats exactly my point. Within city limits of one of the 10 largest cities in America (well over 1.5 million residents), yet is considered rural enough that the local baby-bell monopoly (oops, now AT&T once again) won't offer him broadband. AT&T at least is required to run wires to his property for phone service. Cable companies ignore is area altogether.

And he's only 3-4 miles outside of a suburb city which has a population of almost 200,000. So even though he's "rural" he's by no means living in the boonies.

Re:Where are these people? (1)

doctor woot (2779597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075087)

From TFA:

Only about 66 percent of American adults have broadband access at home, according to a survey last year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

And only one-fifth of elementary- and secondary-school teachers in the United States said that all or most of their students have access to the digital tools they need at home, according to survey results released by the group last week. In some developing countries—where leaders of massive open online courses hope they will have an impact as well—broadband Internet access can be far harder to come by.

This issue doesn't just boil down to the trivial numbers you'd like to make it seem like. Not all of us live in big metropolitan areas with a fast food restaurant with a wifi hotspot at every corner.

Re:Where are these people? (1)

emj (15659) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075137)

Yeah but you all have *access* to broadband, it doesn't take much to cache content. If I could handle broadband access in the middle of South America back in 2001 I'm sure you can do that yourself. What I find harder is the need of constant online access, I don't want that by choice when I study, and some people really don't have that, so some interactive parts of these courses are hard to participate in.

So Broadband libraries can help a lot, and will probably be cheaper than building 1Gbps fiber to all rural homes around the world.

Libraries with inconvenient hours (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075507)

So Broadband libraries can help a lot

Provided that states can find the money to keep them open on evenings and weekends.

Re:Where are these people? Everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075567)

The difference between those who have access to fast connections and those who have only dial-up speeds or access via a cellphone is "bigger than people think," he said.

Quick. Name three people you know (not just people you've heard of) who fall into the above category because "fast connections" are not physically available to them.

Anyone you know who is classified as "rural". Where I live the local Ski resort and a couple other towns actually have access to cable internet. In a broad circle around those large towns some small towns have DSL. In a broader circle than that or between towns there is a company that provides internet wirelessly from towers. If you don't live line of sight from those towers and you aren't in a town, your best options are dial up or (ever so slightly better) satellite. I'm lucky enough to be in a location where I can get DSL or the wireless. As long as the wrong tree doesn't get too tall, anyway. Then wireless is out.
So I picked DSL. It is crap in this location. I get 3/4 of what I pay for in bandwidth. It starts to go down every time the temperature drops below 30, especially when all the kids get home from school. I got to talking with some others around town and the whole town has similar performance.
I can sort of stream netflix depending on the time and temperature. If it's nice and the kids are in school, no interruptions. Class lets out and the temperature drops and I can restart my video every 5 minutes due to down time. (Or, more likely, go read a book.)
Before I submit this, I will check my modem to make sure I am still connected to the internet. It could go any moment....
Technically, I have broadband. Functionally, I do not. I could watch videos posted online for classes, but I could not participate in a live session. I can't have a job that requires a solid internet connection, either.
I'd love to move, but I'm one of those people who is environmentally sensitive and this is the best place I've lived for my health in 15 years.
You may have noticed I left out cell phone data streams as an internet option. That can work on a case by case basis. At many homes here we are lucky to even have voice available. When I was shopping for a new service provider, most of the voice maps stopped right by the town I live in and Data was just pooled around the local Ski resort.
So in answer to your question, I actually know more people who don't have access to broadband than do. I live in Colorado.

they need a service (2)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074819)

to strip off all the scripts and redirects and google metrics and all the crap that chokes away the real bandwidth of the hardware. Then you can access the actual *information* you wanted.

Re:they need a service (2)

jschottm (317343) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074967)

Video is bandwidth intensive. There's no way around that (though H.265 will help compared to the current generation). Whether video is strictly necessary for online education is another question, but very little of Coursera's network requirement is "scripts and redirects and google metrics."

They do (at least for the classes I took) let you just download the videos. No overhead there and even if you live in a rural location without access to high speed internet, if you can make it to a library or place with a high speed connection, you can save it and watch at home. The tests/assignments were all pretty low bandwidth - nothing dialup couldn't have handled if it had to.

Re:they need a service (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075133)

OK then one person can d/l the video and then sneakernet it to his or her pals and so on.

Re:they need a service (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075139)

Video is bandwidth intensive.

Yes, but not as much as people seem to think.

480P youtube H.264 uses about 100KB/second. This is more than enough quality for baseline educational resources..... its been good enough for PBS for 40+ years.

Re:they need a service (1)

jschottm (317343) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075317)

Do you mean kb/sec or kB/sec? Capitalization matter. If it's the former, you're wrong (480p YouTube is about 768kb/sec), if it's the latter, that's true but it's still way beyond the capacity of dial-up and some cell connections.

In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43074895)

Water is wet, rich people have more stuff, and good looking people get laid more.

what the fuck kind of logic is that? (0, Troll)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074915)

Not everyone has access to MIT's online classes. Not everyone has access to MIT's in-person classes either.

Re:what the fuck kind of logic is that? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075187)

Not everyone has access to MIT's online classes. Not everyone has access to MIT's in-person classes either.

Let me rephrase in an attempt to also touch the

Colleges considering MOOCs should remember that.

As long as college education is seen as a business, colleges will not have any interest to remember that: after all, people that don't have access to broadband may have little money to pay their "online tuition" (and yes, it's a vicious cycle... the less educated one is, the less chances one has to make a decent living).

The perspective changes at the moment college education is defined as a basic right. Now... is it defined as such?

Is higer education a "right" now? (0)

FuegoFuerte (247200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43074953)

Higher education (college, university, whatever you want to call it) has never that I know of been considered a "right" to be enjoyed by all. It has always been reserved for the financially well-off (those who can afford it), the financially stupid (those willing to take on loads of debt for something not guaranteed to provide a return on investment), and the financially gifted (those given scholarships for any number of reasons).

There have also always been people who don't fit in any of the above categories, to whom a formal higher education is denied. Some of them make up for it through self-motivated study, obtaining books from the nearby library, etc. I suspect the free online courses appeal most to this class of people, and I suggest that if they are sufficiently motivated, available broadband internet will not be a limiting factor. There are still books available covering most material needed, and anything only available online can be accessed at a local library or similar place in any developed country.

For those who might say "what about the undeveloped countries," I say those people have bigger things to worry about, like where the next meal is coming from, how to get clean water, etc.

Re:Is higer education a "right" now? (1)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075265)

People used to go to the (FREE) library and read actual books and learn things independently - why don't more 'students' avail themselves of this free education?

Is it because knowledge isn't the goal, a piece of paper is?

Re:Is higer education a "right" now? (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075395)

Well for one, those public libraries are getting less and less funding so their collections are even more limited than they used to be and even that wasn't really all that fantastic. Unless you were really lucky, finding anything particularly recent, specialized or rare at your local library, even with getting it sent in from another branch wasn't all that common(ever tried finding a Comp Sci book at your local that was written in the last 10 years?).

For another, for better or worse, a university education is becoming the standard level of education required for any job not requiring manual labor and a lot of manual labor jobs are being off shored. If you want a shot at even a lower middle class lifestyle in the US these days you need that piece of paper, however useless it might be.

Re:Is higer education a "right" now? (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075579)

YEa I read an article recently about how the college degree is the new HS diploma.

Lot's of places that would not and did not previously need them, now do. THe job is the same, it's just degrees are so common why not get someone with a degree over someone without for the same pay?

Keeping up with the Joneses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075005)

So what's the question? If you have enough bandwidth you have enough bandwidth. Do you really care that your video stream is more compressed than the next guy as long as it's viewable? How much bandwidth you need to be able to watch a presentation is something you can measure. How much that is relative to how much some other guy has is irrelevant. Content should generally be aimed at the low end of your expected users and kept there.

Good luck compressing video to 40 kbps (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075549)

Do you really care that your video stream is more compressed than the next guy as long as it's viewable? How much bandwidth you need to be able to watch a presentation is something you can measure. [...] Content should generally be aimed at the low end of your expected users

The low end is dial-up. With packet overhead and nominal loss, you can't count on V.90 to deliver more than 40 kbps. Traditional video codecs don't go that low, which is the whole reason that formats like SWF were created. Sure, so many people love to hate SWF, but vector animation and stills (think seconds per frame, not frames per second) are the only way to get any sort of audiovisual presentation in that sort of data rate.

OT: 'What is the new basic?' (3, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075015)

'The question is, What is the new basic?'

Answer: VB.NET - even if it isn't that new, there's none newer that that. (question is: will it still rot your brain?)

Re:OT: 'What is the new basic?' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075191)

That that, not that that that you!

fairfax county schools (3, Insightful)

sdnoob (917382) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075109)

TFA refers to a pilot project by fairfax county schools. their project would not have failed miserably if they implemented it properly: with offline-capable ereaders preloaded with the proper texts and materials.. but instead, they opted for content and a system that required internet access (presumably due to drm at the publisher's insistance) to use, which limited access to those with sufficient internet access at home AND limited _where_ students could read and study their texts. a preloaded offline ereader would have eliminated those major issues with a conversion to digital texts. if fairfax county school board had listened to complaints and concerns expressed prior to them choosing this defective system, and not gotten memorized by slick salesmen, their system _could have been_ a model for public schools nationwide - instead they just fucked up big time.

Re:fairfax county schools (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075201)

...and not gotten memorized by slick salesmen...

If I were a slick salesman, I know I would certainly be sure to memorize a customer that gullible!

I've encountered this (4, Interesting)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075227)

I've taught courses online for a regional university in Appalachia and had to design the courses specifically with bandwidth limitations in mind. Of the students who had home internet access, some were limited to dial-up or very slow DSL. Many students rely on internet access at public libraries and thus I had to create materials they could bring home for study. I could never assume constant access on the student's part. I made heavy use of public-domain sources as primary texts (I'm a historian), knowing these could be readily transferred to any machine, even a cell phone if necessary (of course, cell phone access can kind of suck out here too).

Courses can still be taught under these conditions, but a teacher cannot use multimedia as a crutch and must focus instead on course structure, careful selection of readings, and heavy use of lower bandwidth tools like message boards. I made any multimedia material optional and supplementary.

The question of technology, however, is not the chief problem with online courses in these circumstances. The chief problem is that the courses themselves are being used to advance the notion that education is a series of hoops, the easier to jump through the better. They're an administrator's dream. More degrees generated at lower cost.

Re:I've encountered this (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075303)

Courses can still be taught under these conditions, but a teacher cannot use multimedia as a crutch

Unless your video format is really broken, you don't have to do anything special for video: tools like Miro will download video for offline playing. It's trivial to set up and use.

Defective by design (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075563)

Unless your video format is really broken, you don't have to do anything special for video

Publishers of videos distributed under proprietary commercial licenses tend to prefer intentionally broken formats [defectivebydesign.org] . These publishers use digital restrictions management to deter casual copyright infringement or charge the advertisers per impression.

Not quite so simple (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075569)

The colleges need to make available low-bandwidth video version of any video courses. These would have lower resolution video than usual, but still maintain high quality audio so that the speech is clear. And the video needs to be reviewed to make sure that the low resolution is good enough to show the details in math, text or experiments, that the instructor expects.

What we really need is special tools to help instructors create low bandwidth videos that will work OK on dialup connections where downloads take a long time. In fact it would be best to supply students with special download tools which pull down videos overnight when networks are less congested in rural areas.

Re:I've encountered this (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075621)

Good tip. If you've ever worked in tech support, however, you know that what is trivial for the end user is often surprising. I did tech support as a u-grad, and teaching these courses has brought back less than fond memories. Honestly, half of what I do teaching online courses is tech support. A person can try to preempt some of this by putting instructions for everything on the front page. But what does one do when even pdfs become a problem?

Re:I've encountered this (2)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075311)

They're an administrator's dream. More degrees generated at lower cost.

Heaven forbid that we should actually lower the cost of education! Do you prefer the cost of education to keep going through the roof and then raise taxes on everybody to pay for it? Or what?

Re:I've encountered this (2)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075599)

I'm all for education. It is, after all, my vocation. However, nota bene: degrees!=education. What I'm not for is continually raising costs for students while lowering costs for universities. That is what happens with these courses. They often cost quite as much as regular courses and the students most likely to take them (in my experience) are largely non-traditional students: i.e. students who have kids, a full time job, several classes and are trying to better their lot. If they're lucky enough to graduate, they do so with ever greater debt and increasingly worthless degrees.

The savings are not passed on to students. They're pumped either into admin (naturally, for that's where the decisions are made) or into capital projects (building more dorms, etc.) so the admin can increase the student body. What we have here, folks, is a bubble.

Seriously? (0)

kenh (9056) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075251)

The contention is that the 'bandwidth divide' will keep low income students from participating in free online courses because they lack high-speed broadband is, to me, verging on the ridiculous.

College now costs over $10K a year, on-line courses can bring that cost down to a number approaching zero, but because it is 'unreasonable' to expect students getting thousands of dollars worth of free education to spring for reasonable broadband service (estimated at $50/mo) we are considering this a problem? Four years of the best service Verizon offers for home access ($200/mo x 48 months) is LESS than one year in university. Scale down the bandwidth demands and you can do it for much less.

Shouldn't free courses and free e-textbooks free-up some money for the student to buy broadband access if they don't already have it?

Or do we need to offer students free courses with free books accessed on free bandwidth from their free computers that run on free electricity?

Re:Seriously? (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075337)

but because it is 'unreasonable' to expect students getting thousands of dollars worth of free education to spring for reasonable broadband service (estimated at $50/mo) we are considering this a problem?

Note that that $50/month also lets people replace many other subscriptions and services, like phone service. So there is really very little cost associated with using it for education.

Voice over satellite Internet (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075587)

Note that that $50/month also lets people replace many other subscriptions and services, like phone service.

In areas unserved by cable or DSL, I don't see how voice over satellite Internet can replace POTS given the time for light to travel to geostationary orbit and back. Or were you referring to cellular Internet, with its even stricter monthly data cap?

Re:Voice over satellite Internet (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075727)

The human needs for a direct live voice comm is really over exaggerated. A satellite comm setup, while not direct substitute for POTS is still an incredibly awesome comms tech. The latency is not bad enough to write off the idea of doing slightly delayed voice comms. I hate how people trivialize something so great. You have no imagination. There are a billion ways to communicate now and you get hung up on copper wire.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075375)

Lets try a rural region with the choice of 28.8 dial up or intermittent satellite service at $60-$80/mo for either option. Both options are spotty with only 1-2 hours up out of every 6.

Exede's 10 GB cap (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075575)

reasonable broadband service (estimated at $50/mo)

Would you find a 10 GB per month cap reasonable? Because that's what Exede includes in its $50 package [exede.com] .

I don't understand (4, Insightful)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075277)

I have been taking some excellent coursera courses which are probably somewhat typical in overall bandwidth needs. The only real bandwidth hog would be the videos which I usually download to my iPad. So short of a 56k Modem I might have to wait for these videos but with only minor delays almost any crappy bandwidth would allow me to take these courses. Also keep in mind that determined people also have sneakernets. That is someone in my group of friends will grab the data and then using USB memory sticks will distribute the goods around. I remember in the early days of the Internet one friend would grab something and then burn the amazing hundreds of megs to CD. And before that one person would grab 3 or more floppies from a BBS and then we would all faithfully copy them. Before that it was pure floppy to floppy movement of data. So saying that you are on the wrong side of a bandwidth margin is just bizarre.

So unless all the MOOCs suddenly change their model to highly interactive 3D environments I suspect that most learners with the most moderate internet access will be just fine.

Only the caveat of some kind of skype type live learning would demand goodish bandwidth but I don't see much education heading that way except for those services that are determined to maintain their tutoring per hour business models which really wouldn't apply to the same people who are supposedly on the wrong side of the digital divide.

And on top of all that my experience in poorer countries is that internet access is really cheap by our standards and their infrastructure is leapfrogging ours. In Jamaica for instance for $40 a month you get unlimited 3G data access nearly everywhere along the coast and as for tethering they sell cool d-link wi-fi routers that you put a SIM card into to have home internet.

If you are a kid in a poor place a bit of industriousness in obtaining a crap old pentium(or raspberry pi), a CRT, a USB stick, and occasional internet access and you will be able to fill your brain with all you ever wanted. Add in an NGO with the goal of making this easier and whole communities will be just fine.

the sky is falling! (0)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075287)

98.2% of the US have download speeds >3 Mbps available. That is more than enough for online video and just about anything else you might want to do on the Internet.

And for $30-50/month, you get a service that gives you free phone service, free university lectures, free access to millions of books , free or cheap movies and TV shows, business directories, and tons of other content. You basically don't need any other communication, education, or entertainment service these days. And yet, people keep complaining as if things are getting worse and worse.

That's what McDonald's is for (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43075511)

I've been seeing increasing evidence that students in poorer neighborhoods are using the McLibrary -- McDonalds outfitted with free wifi -- as a means to access the internet. It's a very interesting phenomenon!

More people have access to a Ferrari... (1)

jammer170 (895458) | about a year and a half ago | (#43075545)

... than high speed internet? Dude, where the hell do you live? It sure as hell ain't anywhere I've ever heard about. I do also have to point out, it hasn't been one hundred years since the creation of the internet, yet you expect the same level of infrastructure to be in place after, what, some forty years?

Speaking a bit more on the article, as a resident in Maryland and 20 miles from DC, it's bullshit. The DC metro area has access to very high-speed broadband - some people just choose not to purchase it, which is a very different thing than the implication in the article. The worst case scenario is that the kids have to go to the local libraries to use it - or perhaps stay a bit later at the schools. There is no "bandwidth divide" going by the definition implied in the article.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?