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Dial-Up As De Facto Standard

timothy posted more than 13 years ago | from the brought-to-you-by-53K dept.

The Internet 252

Oswald writes: "Over at ZDNet, John Dvorak reveals his thoughts on broadband. He makes some good points on his way to concluding that broadband may be a very long time supplanting low-bandwidth connections." DSL service to my house took too many months and five technical visits, and resulted in mangled service and work orders, haphazard billing,and an intermittent connection. Now the initial carrier has gone out of business, and I didn't feel like paying more for the replacement. Dvorak has a point, but for the 10 year picture, I'm optimistic for broad(er) band.

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Re:Why does everyone always talk about DSL? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#177788)

When I got DSL a couple years ago, cable wasn't available in my neighborhood, and I don't even have cable TV (which is an extra $20 of something I don't really want).

But even if it was, I would have chosen it because it's was a static IP address - cable was already using PPPoE or DHCP. (Worse, my friend signed up for the same provider a couple months later, and at that point they were giving away a minimum of 3 static IPs!). Not to mention that I'm close enough to the CO to get rated speeds and AFAICT, it doesn't congest during peak times.

Plus, no server or business use or VPN restrictions, DSL WAS a much better deal. Of course, now my provider is borderline fucked company, and it's impossible to get a consumer static IP anymore. But you can see why people used to talk about DSL.

DSL installation woes? Get CABLE! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#177789)

Whenever I see anybody mention high-speed internet access, it's always DSL that is mentioned.

Haven't you heard of cable? Have you been paid off by the DSL sellers to mention their product? Or are you too cool to associate yourself with TV?

Did you know that cable modem is delivered in many places within a week? Setup charges are usually waived too. Nobody I know who has cable is unhappy about it.

Quit whining and get the better product.

-- satisfied RR customer

PS: I have no association with RR other than as a satisfied customer.

BREAKING NEWS, Dvorak may be wrong! (2)

mosch (204) | more than 13 years ago | (#177792)

BREAKING NEWS, THIS JUST IN.... We have received unconfirmed reports that John C Dvorak does not actually make valid points, nor does he have to. It seems that Mr Dvorak's continued employment is based on the number of readers he can attract. William Randolph Hearst is famous for having pioneered this insightful method of journalism, also known as 'yellow journalism'.

We have unconfirmed claims that Ziff-Davis doesn't care that Mr. Dvorak spews illogical tripe all over their editorial pages, as popular sites, such as, link to the inflammatory pages, helping them to gather more readers, and more money.

Our undercover source claims that Dvorak may be full of shit, regarding his claim that it will be multiple decades until broadband is widely deployed in first world nations.

"Don't trolls get tired?"

The Myth Of The Telephone (5)

mosch (204) | more than 13 years ago | (#177793)

The Myth Of The Telephone
Will The Telephone Ever Become The Standard?

by John C. Dvorak
December 31, 1877

My nomination for "most foolish company" this year is the obvious choice, Bell Telephone. What a foolish notion, this concept that the public is interested in real-time audio transmission. Why would anybody pay for such a capability when they already have the ability to send perfectly functional text-only messages for a much more reasonable fee, via the postal service, or the telegraph.

While some of us 'early adopters' might think it's reasonable to expect people to have a telephone in their house by the 21st century, the fact of the matter is that it's an unneccessary luxury. For half a decade we've had the telegraph, the British have had postal service since the late 17th century and it has worked just fine.

This 'telephone' is an unneccessary expense for casual communicators, and will never affect the lives of most people for centuries to come. Real-time audio transmission? who needs it!

"Don't trolls get tired?"

I'll get broadband... (1)

Brian Knotts (855) | more than 13 years ago | (#177795) soon as someone offers it to me.

There's still a lot of people like me, that don't have any reasonable broadband options.

The only thing I can get is GEO satellite, and the latency on that is awful.

So, I'm still dialing up.

Re:If it was available (1)

Brian Knotts (855) | more than 13 years ago | (#177796)

Starband is $69/month. Plus, you have to buy the equipment. That's expensive, but only because the bandwidth is not really all that impressive, from what I've read, and the latency is awful.

They need to sweeten the pot. If I could get a static IP, and no restrictions on running a web/mail server, I'd be willing to pay it.

One reason I'm not doing satalite (2)

bluGill (862) | more than 13 years ago | (#177798)

My boss pays for my boardband connection as part of our work from home plan. (In MN we have enough snow days that it breaks even every year compared to a paid day off for everyone). He has been complaining that my ISDN line is twice what everyone else is paying for broadband. They are also getting much faster speeds. I've considered satalite. My boss would love to save that much money. Problem is I forward a lot of X connections when I work from home. Latency is an issue.

Of course my point is like most Americans other then dial up, my only reasonably priced alternative is satalite. Many parts of the world are just as bad (come to think of it, many don't have phone lines so satalite is the only option)

Speed isn't the issue (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 13 years ago | (#177803)

Because of poor neighborhood wiring, no matter what I do, I can't get a dial-up connection better than 24.4K, but that's not the only reason I moved to a cable modem. My real reason was for the 24x7 connection. Now, my wife actually uses our net connection because it is always on. No more waiting for dial-up connects.

Re:The Myth Of The Telephone (1)

jtseng (4054) | more than 13 years ago | (#177808)

The Myth Of Teleportation
Will The Teleport Ever Be Adopted for Widespread Use?

by John C. Dvorak v8.4ac3
December 31, 2377
My nomination for "most foolish product" this year is the obvious choice, the teleport. What a foolish notion, this concept that the public is interested in real-time physical transmission. Why would anybody pay for, say, having a hot chick perform pr0n acts right in front of (or in some cases, with) them when they can just download a video for a much more reasonable fee.

While some of us 'early adopters' might think it's reasonable to expect people to have a teleporter in their space colony by the 24th century, the fact of the matter is that it's an unneccessary luxury. For half a decade we've had the Imperial Coruscant Postal Service since the 22nd century and it has worked just fine.

This 'teleport' is an unneccessary expense for casual users, and will never affect the lives of most people for centuries to come. Real-time physical transmission? who needs it!

It's still early for broadband (4)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 13 years ago | (#177810)

If broadband were available everywhere and people were _still_ choosing dialup, I might agree with Dvorak. But the fact is, right now many people are forced to use dialup. It would be interesting to look at the statistics in markets with healthy broadband options.

Once cable modems are more ubiquitous, I think things will change. I don't have hope for DSL... even if you assert that DSLs aren't shared (though the upstream is) it's just way, way too limited. I checked last week now that we have a phone line... no DSL. (We could get ISDN, if we want to pay high prices to have a massive cut in bandwidth.) If you can get it, the odds are likely that it will take a long time and you'll have a couple problems along the way. The immediate mass-market future looks like cable modems, where you hop over to the local electronics store, buy a DOCSIS modem, plug it in, and sign up over a website. That's the present here on Long Island, and it's much closer to the ease of dialup setup than DSL. (Not that dialup is easy, but at least you don't need to schedule an install appt!)

Broadband Troubles? Not me! (1)

Headius (5562) | more than 13 years ago | (#177812)

I got cablemodem when it first came out and was one-way. Waited only two days for installation, and it rocked. Later upgraded to two-way, with about the same 2-day wait to get a new modem. It ran perfectly, all the time. Moved into my new house and wanted DSL. No problem, about 2 weeks wait and everything arrived in the mail. Hooked it up, connected, been online since. I even switched to another service provider recently with absolutely no headache. I just reconfigured the router, rebooted it, and blammo, trimmed $50 off my service charges.

I know lots of people have had problems getting one or both of the great broadband connections, but I couldn't be happier - except perhaps if high-speed DSL was a little cheaper for me.

FYI, my cable provider was MediaOne/RoadRunner (don't know who might have bought M1 now though) and my DSL providers have been Qwest (line [] , service [] , formerly USWest) and BitStream Underground [] (service). I'm located in the Twin Cities. Tell them all I sent ya, I'll split the referral bonus with ya ;)

- Headius

Work bleed-through and early adopters (1)

MikeCamel (6264) | more than 13 years ago | (#177813)

I think that what may help change adoption will be people getting used to easy, and dedicated, access to broadband from work. Here in the UK, broadband is being very slow in roll-out as British Telecom controls all the exchanges, and cable is taking its time. But it's been a while since we've had a jump in modem speed, and if broadband can get going before someone thinks of a way of increasing it again, it's got a chance.

Of course, cost needs to come down, too. ./ters are willing to pay that bit extra, but why should most people bother? I can't see my mother-in-law being interested - she's quite happy to press the "Internet" button, to wait for the strange noises to stop and then send her mail. If there were only a few pounds (dollars) in it, then she'd probably go for broadband, but until then? I think that the early adopters (that's us, people) are going to end up footing the bill for now, which is somewhat different to the modem case, because although we helped bring down the cost of modems by allowing them to become consumer items (and standard in new PCs), it's the infrastructure that we're paying for this time.

Once something is out there (1)

jjr (6873) | more than 13 years ago | (#177816)

It is hard to get people to change. I know with Broadband it alot more than just getting people to change the way they do things. Avialibity is a big issue. But once something become so widely used it is always hard for people to change what they are doing.

It's not the speed (5)

JanneM (7445) | more than 13 years ago | (#177818)

It's not the speed of broadband that is its greatest asset, it's the always-on quality. The ability to leave a large file transfer overnight without the need to get up and disconnect, no tying up of a phone line, be notified of mail as soon as it arrives, being available over ICQ whenever you want. For my part, the speed is just a nice bonus.


Re:Fiber / Ethernet (2)

Luke (7869) | more than 13 years ago | (#177820)

Check this out:

World Wide Packets []

This is the future

Re:Why does everyone always talk about DSL? (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 13 years ago | (#177821)

I can only speak for personal experience, however using both Rogers@Home and Cogeco@Home I have never gotten a daily average of less than 100 KB/second (or more impressively sounding 1Mbps). Right now I can download at a sustained 200 KB/second (2Mbps). Every now and then my speed drops a bit but then Cogeco subdivides and once again I'm hitting 200 KB.

@Home is up past 3 million users so it's hardly like they're a startup tricking people into thinking they're fast.

Why does everyone always talk about DSL? (3)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 13 years ago | (#177826)

In three separate locations I have gotten and been online with cable (@Home) in no time whatsoever with zero hassle. While there may be a delay in getting a technician to do the install, anyone technically adept can pick up the hardware and do it themselves presuming the cable wiring in their house isn't ancient. Regarding the oft criticized reliability of high speed, 98% of the time the problem (which is incredibly rare) is up the network several nodes...hence it isn't the high speed connection whatsoever but the infrastructure of the high speed provider. This sort of problem affects anyone using the net be it through dial-up, cable, DSL, or DS3.

I remember way back when with dial-up modems it was common for people to have problems because of line noise, crosstalk, etc. It was standard to always state to the tech service that it wasn't for a modem though as the phone company would refuse service then (you had to say that the interference disrupted voice conversations to get them out to fix it). The point being that dial-up went through years of trouble as well while the system was upgraded and cleaned up.


Re:The problem (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 13 years ago | (#177827)

Umm... Ford can and does sell you are car/truck with the limitations on mileage and useage... it's called a lease, exactly the same thing you have with your broadband connection. you are leasing...

So in fact they are following industry standards in pricing and use. It's the un-educated consumer that get's stuck with something that they didn't know was there.

If you want unlimited bandwisth use, BUY your bandwidth.. I.E. a T-1 line, just like they do. Otherwise dont be suprized when they pop up another limitation around the corner with the guise of "the terms are subject to change without notice" clause....

Dvorak did this back in the late70's early 80's. (3)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 13 years ago | (#177828)

I remember a rant he had published on how online services wouldn't become popular. Hell you guys complain about the cost of broadband? try paying $3.95 an hour for compuserve access plus paying for access fees to most of the desired areas. Or paying your long-distance bills for access to the better BBS's (1200bps was a screaming modem at that time too!)

the cost of bandwidth, and connectivity has dropped to the point that broadband access is chump-change, Dvorak is still as clue-less as he was back in the 80's, and the amount of change we are going to see in the next 5 years is going to spin everyone's heads (except dvorak, he will always be the same.... pretty much clueless and a person to ignore.)


Re:The problem (1)

Xerithane (13482) | more than 13 years ago | (#177831)

  • Umm... Ford can and does sell you are car/truck with the limitations on mileage and useage... it's called a lease, exactly the same thing you have with your broadband connection. you are leasing...

Uhm, no. Ford doesnt sell you a car with limitations. You can lease a car with limitations (or you can even lease one without but you pay more).

As for the bandwidth purchasing, you dont ever BUY a T1 either. You lease the line from the telco, then hook it up and RENT bandwidth out. And, no matter what, unless you own a branch (Hi alter-net/UUnet) you are going to be under contractual obligation to pay for whatever bandwidth you use.

3G wireless will replace land lines... (1)

kevlar (13509) | more than 13 years ago | (#177832)

... long before most people will even get cablemodems or dsl. 2.5Mbs will simply rock.

I'd agree (2)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 13 years ago | (#177836)

.. with both the article and the initial poster. I ordered DSL and was told that it was available in my area and that my number could support it, but then I was told that the phone company did not have enough switches to turn on the connection or whatever. Boy am I confused about that one. The company is offering a adsl modem where you just put filters on your phones and connect your nic to this modem and viola you are ready to connect. So I am not sure what the issue is. Don't the filters and modems do all the work? What does the phone company need to do here? If the phone company needs to modify its network significantly then DSL could take a long time to grow to where it is useful to home users.

Sure most of us have dsl at work, but some jobs monitor the networks closely, besides some stuff you want to just look at or download from home.

Personally until you can buy DSL equipment in a store like you can buy a regular modem and install it like you would a regualr modem and can connect to ANY ISP, dsl will be for a small select group to have. (FYI: DSL is not available everywhere. In Case You Didn't Know).

I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
Flame away, I have a hose!

Re:The Myth Of The Telephone (2)

Dredd13 (14750) | more than 13 years ago | (#177838)

Laugh all you want, but Western Union had the primo opportunity, historically, and made EXACTLY the same arguments you make and missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

Standard? (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 13 years ago | (#177839)

Everyone talks a big game when it comes to standards, but how many of us understand what real standards are? With computers, we think of Microsoft and Windows right away.

It sounds like Dvorak doesn't know what a standard is, which make it hard to keep reading. If MS Windows is a standard, then why is there only one implementation of it? Oh, he had WINE and Odin in mind... (yeah, right).


come to Canada (4)

Kris Warkentin (15136) | more than 13 years ago | (#177841)

You'd be hard pressed to find a town in Canada where you can't get cable and/or DSL. Here in Ottawa I have Rogers Cable and, aside from one or two hiccups over the past year, I've had pretty much uninterrupted service 24/7. Plenty fast too - I sometimes get 300kbps downloads. My Linux gateway is up to 210 days uptime now too...;-)

All that being said, I don't think it would take that long in the States if the regulators got serious. I only pay $40/month for mine (and that's in Canadian pesos too). I mean, when you can get cable and DSL in Kenora (small town between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg) for crying out loud, I can't see why you Yanks can't get your act together.

*sing* I'm a karma whore and I'm okay....
I work all night and I post all day

Correct, but obvious (1)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 13 years ago | (#177842)

Broadband has been "just around the corner" for 15 years or so.

There is every reason to suspect it'll be just around the corner for another 10.

Dvorak is in the Cassandra role here. Pointing out that broadband isn't here yet won't stop companies from creating buisness models based on broadband access. All it'll do is allow Dvorak to say "I told you so" when the inevitable happens [] .

Sometimes being right is a thankless role.


Re:It's not the speed (2)

Mike Schiraldi (18296) | more than 13 years ago | (#177843)

Another nice trick if you have an external modem is to splice a speaker into the cable's RXD line (optionally with a switch so you can turn the speaker off)

This way, i can start a download and then go sit on the couch and watch TV or read or whatever without having to check up on things every five minutes. Whenever my modem is sending data to the computer, the speaker is clattering.

It's also nice because you can tell how much bandwidth you're using -- see, with Gnutella, if i have too many things downloading at once, i only get like 4%-5% of any of them before the download breaks for one reason or another. But if i only have one or two downloads going at once, i might not be using my full bandwidth. So with this trick, while i'm sitting on the couch i can keep an eye (ear?) on things and tune the number of concurrent downloads accordingly.


Re:Broadband in the Great White North (2)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 13 years ago | (#177848)

Just like a yank to mistake 'American' culture for 'North American' culture....

In some places, it will never happen (3)

Eidolon (29916) | more than 13 years ago | (#177851)

There may be something to what he's saying. I think Dvorak is normally a blowhard, but let me tell you a story.

For the better part of a year, I tried to Qwest (then US West) to either stop sending me ads for DSL or install it in my home. I spoke with many of their representatives, tested my lines online and through their service office, and finally encountered someone very high up in the food chain in their broadband department, who was smart and helpful (if you know Qwest, you know how amazing that is) and went to the trouble of gathering data about my phone lines and making the necessary calculations to determine whether DSL would work in my home, and if so, how well.

This was, in summary, the conversation we had:

"So, thank you very much for going to all this trouble."

"Oh, no problem, you're welcome."

"What did you discover? Can I get DSL at my house?"

"I'm sorry, it's not going to work."

"Does that mean, it won't work now but it will work at some point in the near future?" (Qwest kept our hopes up with slogans about new equipment and plant upgrades. Everyone would have DSL Real Soon Now.)

"Uh, no. I'm sorry. You will never have DSL at your location."

"Never? Never as in 'we have no immediate plans to provide DSL in your area?'"

"No, never as in you will never have DSL, ever, unless you move somewhere else."

"I see. Well, thanks again for your trouble."

The punchline: I live approximately 500 feet too far from the nearest DSL-equipped central office, and the plant in my neighborhood is so old and crappy that Qwest has no plans to do anything but patch it up forever. It's funny, because I get acceptable analog modem connections (48 Kbps most of the time). One would imagine DSL would be no problem here at some point. Yet, a pretty big wheel at Qwest said, "never." DSL may become widespread, but it will never be ubiquitous, even if I am the only exception (which I seriously doubt).

He's got a pont. (2)

mjpaci (33725) | more than 13 years ago | (#177854)

Not everyone can justify spending $480/year for a cable modem when a dial-up costs only $240 ($20/year) and ties up your phone line. Wait, at best, an extra phone line will cost you, at best, $20/month, so we're looking at about the same price. What is my point? With a little digging and thinking, his prices are bogus.

Broadband will not be a 'standard' until a lot more people have access to it. Plain and simple. Also, people sign up for dial-up because their computers come with special offers and modems. A lot of these people don't know any better. They're taking baby steps into the world of computing and may not understand the benefits of broadband. They may not even know that they can access their AOL through their cable modem.

Dvorak, as usual, is just being sensationalist.


Re:It's not the speed (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 13 years ago | (#177856)

Who need's to disconnect?

I've just got a 28.8 modem, and if there's anything big (or a bunch of them) I want to download I just add them to a script ("getem"!) using wget that I'll run when I'm done using the net. If anything fails wget can continue from where it stopped if there was any error.

I think most ISP's (like mine) will disconnect you anyway after enough dead time - I can't think I've ever seen the connection still up in the morning.

Re:It's still early for broadband (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 13 years ago | (#177857)

Well for some poeople the cost difference between dial-up (anywhere from free to $20-25/mo) and DSL ($40 or so) is going to be an issue, even if it is available.

There's also the fact that even where DSL is "available", you may be too far from the CO (like me) to be able to get it, and there's not much that can be done about that, even if the max distance can be extended - there's always going to be people out of range.

No cable access here either :-(

Re:In some places, it will never happen (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 13 years ago | (#177858)

You're lucky to even get that 48Kbps dial-up connection - I'm too far from the CO too, and only get 28.8Kbps. You probably know it, but you *would* be able to get IDSL (144/144), since the range is considerably further, although it's a lot more expensive than ADSL (figure around $70/mo at the cheapest, maybe more depending on the provider).

Re:It's not the speed (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 13 years ago | (#177859)

I don't know what my ISP's TOS are, but in practice I don't seem to be getting disconnected based on connection time, although I've had a few download sites that will do that. The way I workaround that one is to telnet into my ISP (Solaris shell account is for free) and download into the /tmp directory where there's no file quota limits, then ftp from the ISP back into my Linux box and transfer it. I normally leave an "at" job running to delete the big temp file a few hours later just in case they'd get upset - never had any complaints about doing this yet, which surprises me!

Evidence that broadband isn't there yet (1)

octothorpe (34673) | more than 13 years ago | (#177860)

ShockwaveAdam seems to be closing the doors.,4586,5092 019,00.html.

kinda like telephones, cable tv, etc. (2)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 13 years ago | (#177861)

i remember when they cable guy came to put our box in in the early 80's. he had to run coax every leaving bits and pieces of sheilding and wires in his wake. it was expensive at the time (hell our vcr was huge by todays standards) and here we are now. cable tv is cheap enough to be used to educate the masses and teach them the moral lessons of pokemon.

my parents and the others on my block were footing the bill for for the infrastructure and now that it is in place whe have cable tv in every home (better than clean water :?), at least some might think so). like any new technology it will take some time and the time is inversly porportional to the demand. if enough people want it it will get there alot quicker.

use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that

This isn't really all that interesting... (3)

revscat (35618) | more than 13 years ago | (#177862)

IMHO, having bandwidth intensive applications on your website not only isolates your from reaching a large portion of your user base, but it also tells me that you haven't done something correctly. Even Flash, as complicated as it can be, is a very compact data format relative to MPEG, QuickTime, or other multimedia formats. Pretty pictures tend to distract the user from what they are at the page for in the first place. This isn't to say that media intensive sites don't have a place, for they do. But only in a limited set of circumstances.

My rules for designing good websites are:

Make em standards compliant []

Make em work on different browsers on different platforms. [] Incompatible with the first point, but there we are.

They only have content that is necessary to the purpose of the site

I assume that Dvorak's audience here is web designers. If so, he's telling us nothing we didn't aleady know. (And if you're reading Dvorak for tips on web design, then, umm, go here [] instead. You'll be better served.) The net is still (thank Buddha) primarily a text-based medium. Even on high speed connections it takes a significant amount of time to download multimedia content. It's just simple politeness not to require your users to download that crap unless they request it. But even if broadband does become universal, the Right Thing To Do(TM) will still be to make pages that are as lean as possible, for simple reasons of maintainability and professionalism.

If, on the other hand, you have no multimedia on your site and it takes longer than 8 secs to load on a 28.8 connection, you should probably be reconsider your design choices and/or toolset. Throw GoLive out the goddamn window & get one book on HTML & one on JavaScript, k?

(BTW: I saw Princess Mononoke for the 1st time last night. 5-stars, friends! Ck it!)

- Rev.

Re:Dvorak says lots of things. (2)

Dr. Smeegee (41653) | more than 13 years ago | (#177863)

My favorite head scratcher from this article:

. Compare this situation with Windows and Linux: Windows is dial-up, and Linux is broadband--a niche market.

Apropos to what? I use linux with a 33.6 modem every day. Weird, man.

Re:It's not the speed (1)

befletch (42204) | more than 13 years ago | (#177864)

It's not the speed of broadband that is its greatest asset, it's the always-on quality. The ability to leave a large file transfer overnight without the need to get up and disconnect, no tying up of a phone line, be notified of mail as soon as it arrives, being available over ICQ whenever you want.

Hey! Don't forget to mention the ability to be a part of that latest hot Intenet trend, the DDOS!

Rebuttal (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#177865)

Must be nice that you, and everyone you know, lives in areas where broadband is available. In the Real World, they aren't. Unless you are lucky, or live in a rich suburb, you don't get broadband. Many small towns have neither cable modem or DSL, as there is no incentive for the companies to upgrade their systems to provide it. I suspect, based on what I saw while living in Utah, that 30 years from now there will still be substantial portions of the country on dial-up. Heck, there are towns in Nevada that still use party-lines for their phone systems. IIRC, BellSouth didn't replace the last mechanical phone switch until about 30 years after the electronic switches were invented.

Re:I'd agree (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#177866)

Don't the filters and modems do all the work? If the phone company needs to modify its network significantly then DSL could take a long time to grow to where it is useful to home users.

You have just described the problem with DSL (and cable modem). Infrastructure. Switches need to be installed in the central office building. If there isn't room, they aren't installed. The wiring from the switch to the house has to be of good enough quality to carry the signal. If it isn't, it has to be replaced (which may involve tearing up streets, climbing a few hundred poles, etc). There can't be any repeaters in the line. 30 years from now people will still be using dial-up.

Re:It's not the speed (3)

isdnip (49656) | more than 13 years ago | (#177870)

You make an excellent point. Always-on is very important, especially given the 30-second-plus connect time of modern modems.

Of course the downside to this is that you're a sitting duck for k1dd13z, but that's what home firewalls are for. I use an SMC Barricade, which can be had nowadays for under $100, and it lets two (or more) computers share the link.

One reason (not the only one!) that DSL is so hard to provide is that it overshoots the mark. It was designed for video on demand, which needed 1.5 Mbps, so it doesn't work on marginal wires (and thus is unavailable to, oh, 50-60% of USA households). A broadband always-on scheme that delivered, say, 256-512 kbps, but was more robust, would be more appropriate for most users. Just not as macho.

And as a cable modem user, I can vouch for how easy they are to get installed and working.

Re:The problem (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 13 years ago | (#177875)

Guess what: businesses with T1 lines are still subject to bandwidth restrictions by their ISP. They get you coming and going.

Re:I'd agree (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 13 years ago | (#177878)

Dude, the problem is that they don't have enough DSLAM ports.

Kind of like if you have an 8 port hub, and 8 computers, and then you want to add a ninth, you're fscked, even though you've got a NIC.

Broad(er)band? No. (4)

kniedzw (65484) | more than 13 years ago | (#177879)

I'm being pedantic. I know. It's horrible. ...but I'm getting sick of people thinking that broadband simply means "fat pipes."

In reality, the distinction is between "broadband" and "baseband." Broadband sends the data signal over a carrier frequency. In most cases, this frequency is your cable television information. Baseband is sent directly over the wires as spikes in signal, much in the same way that old-style telegraphs were sent, as with Morse Code.

Having said that, I suppose it's inevitable that "broadband" will eventually become a codeword for "high-speed, generally residential, Internet access," but I'm fighting that trend every step of the way. :)

Help me understand (1)

hernan43 (66474) | more than 13 years ago | (#177880)

Dvorak's pundit-ism aside, I don't understand why, if it available, so many people shun cable modems. Where I am, CM access costs around $35 per month. Compare that to the average(local anyway) cost of dialup access of around $20. No brainer, right?

Well, of my friends and acquaintences who have dialup access(everyone but me) they are also paying for a second telephone line?!? Now your dialup access is costing you $10-$15 more than the cable modem! And to show for it you have crap speeds, and dubious quality, at best.

Most CM providers will give you the nice web server space and email addresses, just like you can get from any other dialup provider.Hell, if you don't like the CM ISP's email/web service, just fire up your favorite Distro(Solaris x86 included) and put that 20GB HD to work. That's what I did.

It is one thing if you can't get CM access, but if you can it just makes more sense(to me anyway).

Dvorak's comments are a joke. Yes there are problems with SOME broadband service providers. But I have a friend who hasn't had telephone access in two months because some scam long distance co. wont give up the lease on his phone line, and they are refusing to provide him service. Which just goes to show you, there is f'ed up service in any kind of service bureau.

I say Dvorak should stay on TechTV and talk about how much of a hardcore "gamer" he is, and leave my broadband alone.

Go Cable (1)

owillis (74881) | more than 13 years ago | (#177889)

As much as I hate the cable monopolies, they've got their act much more together than the DSL ninnies. By coincidence I ended up with DSL from Pacbell and Cable from @Home/Adelphia simultaneously. What a world of difference. DSL was sluggish with speed bursts and the service terrible. Cable was up and running in a couple hours, no problem with speed of about 1.5 for a year now....
OliverWillis.Com []

Re:The problem (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 13 years ago | (#177894)

Or pay for your bandwidth on your DSL line. I don't know about cable, but a lot of DSL providers will give you static IPs and won't bitch at you about your usage starting in the neighborhood of $200 a month (You might be able to find it for less now.)

Back when I was working at MCI, we'd charge $1600 a month plus local loop charges for a T1 line. For some customers, local loop charges were more than the base T1, too. We still had a terms of service though, and reserved the right to cut your line off if we got enough complaints that a customer was using their connection for spamming.

Re:Correct, but obvious (1)

NTSwerver (92128) | more than 13 years ago | (#177898)

Global broadband will stay around the corner until companys like Britain's BT [] wake up and realise that their customers aren't going to pay £40($57)/month for a 512kb ADSL line with a fucking 50:1 contention ratio!

Not that they piss me off or anything....


Yes, but . . . (1)

Kreeblah (95092) | more than 13 years ago | (#177900)

I read this a while ago in PC Magazine, so I've had some time to think about it. I agree with most of what he says, but I question whether broadband is really decades away. After all, it hasn't been that long since the mass market got modems. Before that, SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) was to give your data to a data processing center. Modems were a radical new way to connect to other computers. Taken in this context, broadband is not nearly as radical a change.

Granted, dialup access has been entrenched in the market as the de-facto standard, but eventually companies will realize that they have to compete with dialup on a cost basis moreso than a bandwidth basis if they expect more people to sign up (including installation costs . . .).

Most people just use an internet connection for e-mail or casual web browsing, so a moderately faster connection would be appreciated, but few people in that market segment see the necessity for it. On the other end of the spectrum are the people who run Gnutella/FTP/HTTP/etc. servers and are constantly uploading/downloading files. For these people, more bandwidth==necessity. If the broadband companies can compete on cost as well as raw bandwidth, they'll be able to draw in more customers (and raise the bar for other companies, hopefully providing fast, cheap access to everyone).

Re:Why does everyone always talk about DSL? (2)

spazimodo (97579) | more than 13 years ago | (#177901)

People have downloaded ~100GB of crap off of my FTP server in the last month to month and a half. I'm on a 1.5Mbit DSL line. Cable is meant for Joe Shmoe I-burst-to-1.5Mbit-when-i'm-downloading-my-go4t-pr 0n-but-don't-really-use-the-bandwidth-since-they'd -cap-me. I like the freedom of paying for access and not being told what I can do with it. I rue the day that I will have to go to a cable provider thats trying to sell me some consumer oriented bullshit instead of the phatp1p3 I have now.


Fsck the millennium, we want it now.

Fiber / Ethernet (1)

forgoil (104808) | more than 13 years ago | (#177903)

That's the way to go. Fiber cables are more secure for the future and ether works really well. After all the reports about other systems working all but good I thought that building a good net would be the future.

Besides, fiber might rid us of AOL ;)

Of course they went out of business.. (1)

Arctic Fox (105204) | more than 13 years ago | (#177905)

Timothy, ever think that they went out of business, cause they offered shitty service?

Re:The problem (1)

ekidder (121911) | more than 13 years ago | (#177912)

Woah, have we had different experiences. I had Telocity hook me up and it's been sweet love ever since. They had this spat where a router in Chicago was deep-sixing itself randomly on weekends, but that was fixed some time ago. They've given me my static IP, they've not complained that my home machine is hosting a multitude of servers, and they haven't throttled my bandwidth.
God bless them.

Re:It's not the speed (2)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#177918)

I think most ISP's (like mine) will disconnect you anyway after enough dead time - I can't think I've ever seen the connection still up in the morning.

It's not just dead time. I know that at the very least my ISP [] explicitly states that they will disconnect based on connection time, not on usage level, when they feel the need to disconnect people. I'd strongly recommend looking at your TOS to find out.

Verizon Service (1)

Tarlyn (136811) | more than 13 years ago | (#177923)

Disclaimer - I do not work for Verizon and in no way benfit from this message.

It seems that lots of people here like to complain about how crappy their service is. Well, in my opinion, you get what you pay for. The majority of the problems I have seen first hand are almost always from DSL providers who buy and resell from Covad, never pay their bills, and get cut off.

Everyone also likes to bitch about Verizon's DSL, ranging from crappy support to constant outages. I have Verizon DSL. I like it. I like it alot. I pay $60/month for 1.5 down and 512 up, consistantly get much higher down speeds than what I pay for, only waited 3 weeks for install, have had zero outages in 3 months, and have never even had to call tech support.

Spend the extra money on Verizon, go buy yourself a router that supports PPPoe (I use LinkSys - 8 port $200) and you won't run into the "we don't support Linux" problems.

I mean, come on, $60/month is really not that much for basically having your own T1. 3 years ago this would have been an astounding price (when people were paying 1500/month for similar bandwidth). In 3 more years I wouldn't be surpirsed if we could get 10Mbit/sec for little more than an addition charge on your phone bill equivalent to call waiting or caller ID.

Dial-up is dying.
I am Jack's broken heart
I am Jack's complete lack of surprise

Re:Dvorak says lots of things. (2)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 13 years ago | (#177924)

BITD John use to produce some thought provoking columns. It seems now that his job has turned to focusing on the problems in our industry, and I believe his first-person anecdotes are hardly representative of what the typical individual will experience.

Sure, I have my own DSL sagas circa 1998-2000 that I certainly do not want to relive. Lately though, my experiences with PacBell Internet have been a lot different. Fast, reliable connections, 75% of my questions getting answered (they still need to work on that), low hold times for tech support. I actually get roughly 5.5Mbps download (it's enhanced DSL) and the full 384K up, and my pre-war apartment builing is wired with farily oxidized Cat 3 cable, (and the C.O. is about 1.5 miles away as the crow flies)!

I characterize my earlier DSL experiences as those of dealing with an emerging technology and a provider experiencing massive growth pains. I still hear DSL horror stories, and yes, when I design a website, it is still with an 8 second load time@48K in mind, but I would not count DSL out. The fact the dialup is growing faster than broadband suggests that broadband will grow, because dialup is a stepping stone to broadband for the newbie, and let's face it, at this point _ALL_ growth in consumer access is due to newbies. Where I live, you have to be completely insane to pay $10 less a month (compared to DSL) to get the second phone line so you can talk and surf. Maybe time isn't worth much to some people...

Opportunity is knocking, gentlemen! (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 13 years ago | (#177929)

Dvorack complains about the 20Kbps streams he's getting. What if the DSL bandwidth provider used their LOCAL bandwidth to provide content? $3 to stream a movie at full bandwidth, for instance? Given that the cost of distribution would be VERY low the only real cost would be that of putting together a content server (now cheap and getting cheaper) and licensing from the RIAA... (fill in various expletives) Maybe for the extra $30 (from $20 for dialup) a DSL customer outta get a few moview streamed for free? Betcha people would sign up like mad for something like this, and would also be much happier with the service they're paying extra for! -Ben

What is this garbage? (2)

revelation0 (164235) | more than 13 years ago | (#177933)

Ok. Every now and then I enjoy reading an interesting (albiet ignorant) ZDNet article. But what is this guy talking about?

34 Kbps, the typical speed produced by a dial-up connection (plus or minus 10 Kbps), is a true standard.

Well sure, but it's quickly becoming outdated. With roadrunner in the price range of a dialup account plus an extra phone line, who would want to stick with it?

Nobody today can produce a Web site and not care about the dial-up user. So everything gets designed and optimized for the lowest common denominator: 34K.

And I used to have to still consider people using Netscape Navigator 2.0 when I was designing my web pages. Do I still have to? NO! Because OLDER TECHNOLOGIES ARE BOUND TO BE REPLACED by something faster and better. I still make my pages VIEWABLE with even lynx, but will they get the experience without a better browser or a faster connection? Now, today we still have to consider the dial-up user. Yes. But why would we begin to call it a standard now, right when it is being ready to be replaced?

A couple months ago my Grandmother (still trying to stay ahead of the curve, god bless her heart) called me to discuss this crazy commercial that she saw where she could send movies and stuff to others! I set up a call with roadrunner to her house, they installed it, and she loves it. Ask anyone who has used broadband if they would go back to a dialup. The resounding answer will be no. Whether or not the companies that base their business around it make it (won't even go into their business plans) is another story. Just my $0.02.

Revelations 0:0 - The begining of the end.

Dvorak is frequently wrong, but he hits the ... (3)

Naum (166466) | more than 13 years ago | (#177935)

... mark on this one ...

I'm reading a lot of comments here where people are questioning the ease of setup, difference between dialup and broadband, etc. ... While, those are good arguments, I have to say you arn't getting the point - Broadband is not taking off as fast because (1) it's still not available to a large segment of the population, (2) it's still nowhere simple as plugging a phone line in and getting a dial tone and (3) a good deal of people really don't see the need for broadband over a standard dialup connect ...

DSL providers and cable companies have scaled back their rollouts - in my neighborhood, cable access was supposed to be here already but the target date keeps slipping (first it was summer of 2000, then it was early 2001, then it was end of 2001, now I'm told by Cox that they're re-examining their rollout strategy - whatever that means ...). I keep getting ad fliers telling me that I'm elgible for DSL but when I call, I'm told I can't get it and that there are no plans for when and just to keep checking back periodically. I believe Sprint broadband is available but I'm not too familiar with it and fear spending money on technology that may be defunct after a year or two ...

Dialup net access is simple - you plug in the phone line to the back of the computer, and most people are so lazy that they are paying $25 a month to AoL just because their machine came preloaded or they popped in a 30 days free CD, not realizing that they could receive the same service for $15 a month or less from a local ISP. And sorry, broadband is not as simple as cable hookup even - most families have issues with multiple PCs, extra costs for wiring, etc. ... - it's not a big deal for techies like /. posters and readers but for the average Joe it is a larger hassle.

This may shock some geeks, but broadband access is not seen as a "must have" by many. Again, the average Joe feels he is served enough with email and basic net access. He's not downloading ISO images or building an MP3 collection. Yes, this may change at some point in the future, but not for at least several years. Also, many don't realize the difference unless they are a heavy net user - and Dvorak is right (o, it pains me to say that ...) about the web being standardized for a dialup connect visitor - it doesn't make sense to do otherwise - and he's right - streaming media via broadband still looks choppy - it does make the net surf exprience a quicker, smoother one, but unless you use the net frequently, is it worth the extra money and hassle?

Uh-oh (1)

saider (177166) | more than 13 years ago | (#177939)

"Windows is dial-up, and Linux is broadband--a niche market."

Let the rants/flames begin!

Bottlenecks all the way down the pipe (3)

isomeme (177414) | more than 13 years ago | (#177940)

From Dvorak's article:

I have a megabit line into my home office, and when I view a streaming video feed, I still get a herky-jerky 20-Kbps stream. The true advantage of broadband is realized only on FTP sites or peer-to-peer, where downloading is optimized for speed.

I'm not sure what he's trying to say, here. If anything, most video servers are far better optimized for real-time bit streaming than most FTP servers. And "peer-to-peer" is so broad a classification as to be meaningless. As any Napster user can attest, it's quite common to find oneself at the receiving end of a 0.1 kbps feed from some hapless dialup user supporting 20 simultaneous downloads.

The point Dvorak seems to be trying to make is that the "last mile" (be it dialup, DSL, cable, or dedicated connection) isn't the only potential bottleneck in the path from a content provider to your computer. I used to work for a broadband media company, and I can attest that there are quite a few DSL providers out there who offer megabit connections to their subscribers, but who have an aggregate CO-to-backbone bandwidth adequate to support less than 20% of their subscribers at maximum rate. This oversubscription model works most of the time, as odds are good that only one subscriber out of five (or fewer) will need max bandwidth simultaneously. But let the law of averages fail, and suddenly everybody's bandwidth suffers.

Similarly, there can be significant congestion between the content provider and the backbone, if capacity on this leg is poorly modeled or if demand grows beyond what was modeled. I call this phenomenon "suicide through success", in which a content service becomes popular, grows faster than was planned, and at some threshhold number of users saturates its outbound pipe and begins to degrade for everyone, driving users away.

The best summary of the situation I've ever seen is: "Solving the broadband problem by increasing DSL and cable modem penetration is like solving traffic gridlock by widening driveways."


Re:It's still early for broadband (1)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 13 years ago | (#177946)

I am probably a heavy user, but I know it's not any cheaper for me to have my dialup situation than it is to go with RoadRunner (approx $50 in my area). I didn't go the 2nd line route, but I did buy the Qwest home/cell/ISP package that rolls home phone calls to the cell phone (approx $90).

This way I get "always on" with the phone and the modem-- since if the cell phone is on, the calls are autoforwarded past the line the modem is using. Cable might actually be cheaper for me. I could go back to a regular dirt-cheap monthly POTS line ($25-30), instead of the hyped up package. Total cost goes down. Of course I lose the cell phone in the mix, but either way, cable is cheaper than any two-line solution from the phone company.

Re:Broadband (2)

MacGabhain (198888) | more than 13 years ago | (#177949)

and it might be even possible one day to have a phone line as fast as a DSL, of course, then it would BE a dsl.

More correct than you probably realised. All a DSL does (well, "all" is a bit negative.. .it's actually quite a bit) is modulate your TCP/IP (or whatever is coming out of your nic) to a high frequency analog signal which it then amplifies the hell out of to get it across that up-to-18000 feet of low-grade twisted-pair phone line running to a DSL demodulator connected to a fiber line. Of course, it adds a bunch of error correction as well, but it is a pretty good hack of a 100 year old phone system. Once it's there it's probably sent via ATM to your ISP, where it's changed back into a TCP/IP signal and sent out over whatever connection your ISP has to the net.

Both DSL (and the UHF-ranged VDSL) and Digital Cable/Cable-modem suffer from the same difficulty - infrastructure costs. Whether one "wins" or the other depends on which can provide the service quickly enough in a particular area, and keep the costs of recouping the investment from preventing people from buying into the service. Once those initial costs are covered, and the roll-out of, say, DSL is fairly complete, the pricing can be rolled back (if there is sufficient economic or regulatory reason for the phone companies to do so) - rather like the cost of a 3 minute coast-to-coast long distance call dropping from around $25 in the first years of the service to around $.20 now (in NON-adjusted dollars).

Re:Why does everyone always talk about DSL? (2)

MacGabhain (198888) | more than 13 years ago | (#177950)

Plenty of people talk about Cable Modem. Personally, I don't care much for a service that advertizes maximum achievable performance knowing full well that if it takes off like they want it to, that performance will drop through the toilet because the guy right before you decides to set up a macro to download porn 24/7, but hey, maybe you'll get lucky and the cable company will refuse to install faster than they can provide the service. Of course, given that the cable company where I'm at is now owned by AOL, I wouldn't hold my breath. Maybe AT&T is better.

The central issue, however, is what's available when you're looking. In the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, there are numerous pockets without DSL availablity that do have Digital Cable/Cable Modem. In my part of town, DSL went in 3 years ago and Digital Cable just hit my high-rent apartment building sometime between Sunday night and whenever the last time I watched TV before that. Thus, I use DSL and have no plans of switching.

Cost (2)

MacGabhain (198888) | more than 13 years ago | (#177951)

Fiber's expensive. Really expensive. Way too expensive to run to people's homes. It's an unfortunate reality, but it will be a long time before we get rid of that 24 gauge twisted pair running out of our phones.

On a non-bandwidth-related issue, however, this is a good thing. We're in for a summer of proving that our power grid (at least here in the US) isn't up to snuff. Put in fiber to the home (at least in place of twisted pair) and your phone only works if youhave power. I, personally, want that 56 milliapres being sent to me by a big battery at the phone company.

DSL Cost (3)

MacGabhain (198888) | more than 13 years ago | (#177954)

Here in Qwest territory (I know, it's more in Bell South and Verizon territory) DSL is only about $10/month more than a second line. This goes to the availability point made earlier - if you're someone who is on line more than a half hour to an hour a day, DSL makes the whole experience better and isn't that much more expensive than the second line you'd likely want for your phone anyway.

As far as content goes, there's certainly some out there. I've gotten high-speed realvideo from quite a number of sites and, of course, has a broadband feed that's quite good. :)

My favorite broadband is cable (2)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 13 years ago | (#177955)

On cable, the best 'broad' band is the range of frequencies carring Playboy, Spice Channel, etc.

Re:The problem (1)

MeNeXT (200840) | more than 13 years ago | (#177956)

Ford doesn't sell you a truck and then make you keep it in the garage 18 hours each day and limit your mileage.

Yes it does!!! If you can't afford to buy (ir T1) the car you lease (DSL, CABEL) with the milage limitations and all.

Re:The problem (1)

MeNeXT (200840) | more than 13 years ago | (#177957)

Maybe time to change your ISP.

Bandwidth (1)

onion2k (203094) | more than 13 years ago | (#177959)

Bandwidth is just one of those things you can never have enough of. My expectations of bandwidth use are minimal, being a telnet junkie (see .sig), but other things take more. Web surfing, gaming, ASPs (as in applications, not MS), all drain the bandwidth hideously. I certainly wouldn't look forward to viewing Flash 27 movies over a 56k connection.

Re:In some places, it will never happen (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 13 years ago | (#177963)

You can also count just about anyone on a Rural Telephone Cooperative in the mix of "never". I live about 10 miles from Blacksburg, Virginia - the so-called "electronic village" which is home to Virginia Tech. I'm just into the next county, though, so I'm serviced by a "rural telephone cooperative." I believe there is practically zero possibility of them offering DSL in my area. The NRTC has a whitepaper on the subject of broadband in which they determined that even where it's offered, nobody wants it, so there's no use intalling it.
I find it interesting that with all the talk about the digital divide, there's really no hope for anyone living out in the country, unless you want to roll the dice and fork over the $900/year for starband.

Oh, they also own the local cable service (yeah - I've got cable TV - I'm not that far out in the sticks) and they're not going to do cable modems either. They also own the only ISP with local dialup phone numbers, and an unlimited connx will cost you $25/mo.

The only humorous part about the whole thing was when I moved here about last year, I called the local phone company and asked if they offered high speed internet. The nice lady on the other end of the phone line said "Of course we do, we just upgraded most of our modems to 56k!"

The problem (4)

ageitgey (216346) | more than 13 years ago | (#177965)

is that broadband providers are stuck on the old dial-up mentality. They think that they can get away with the kind of service that they used to subject dial-up users to (disconnects, unable to get a connection, etc). They price their services with the expectation that the average user isn't actually going to use the service all the time and won't be sharing large files. They advertise "always-on" connections and "instant downloads" but as soon as you try to stay connected all the time and actually use the bandwidth you pay for, they become upset. Ford doesn't sell you a truck and then make you keep it in the garage 18 hours each day and limit your mileage. Broadband providers should provide what they advertise. Gone are the days when you can run an ISP that is busy most of the day. Likewise, you can't sell broadband service and expect that people won't use it.

Availability (2)

kstumpf (218897) | more than 13 years ago | (#177966)

Don't forget that DSL or cable availability is still far from ubiquitous yet. Most places simply don't have it yet. Even worse, my parents aren't within a local call of a dialup provider without a special calling plan from the phone company!

I think we also forget that not everyone is willing to pay the price of broadband, which is alot higher than the $9 dialups you can get. Many people just don't need it.

Unfortunately, too many of us in the web industry forget or totally ignore the fact that not everyone is broadband. This is a major reason the web is such a bloated cow.

Dvorak says lots of things. (2)

Darth RadaR (221648) | more than 13 years ago | (#177967)

John Dvorak has a really great track record for talking absolute rubbish []

Maybe the best way to think about his articles is to cheer for the opposite of what he's saying.

Re:It's not the speed that's the standard. (1)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 13 years ago | (#177971)

$20 a month where, pale face ?

Many countries (Like Brazil, where I live) has per-minute telephone charges, which rises the cost of dial-up connections significantly.

A 24x7 dial-up connection can cost up to US$ 500,00 (five hundred american dollars) here. This is twice the cost of a 512 kbps cable modem or DSL access here.

As you can see depending on how fast the connection is broad-band can be cheaper than dial-up if your telephone company has per-minute charges.

Every Technology has it's early adopter stage... (2)

Ruger (237212) | more than 13 years ago | (#177973) just seems like Broadband's "EA" stage is going to be a bit longer than some others. But, if you compare broadband adoption/use to PC use, you'll see that it's most likely way ahead of the curve. The major detractor for the masses is that "BB" service is still at a price that most Internet user refuse to bear. Why would a family who spends only 10-15 hours a month online, doing nothing but e-mail, maybe some banking and IMing want to pay double what they're paying now for service?

Personally, I suspect that two other things are probably restricting the growth of broadband...
1. Many people have "BB" access at work and simple spend time at the office surfing and thus don't need high speed access at home.
2. Many people have never used broadband, thus they don't know what the difference relative to dail-up is like.
I personally have cable access and every neighbor who's seem my access, now has broadband as well. There's something about going to your favorite website and seeing it load in 1/10th the time or watching an MP3 download in 1/100th the time it takes for their dail-up, that makes the cost seem much more reasonable.

I think John D. is wrong about it taking decades for it to be ubiquitous. In fact, if AOL ever really gets behind "BB" and makes it affordable at say $30 a month, you'll see an explosion of "BB" use among the masses.

Sig, we don't need no stinking sig!

Analogies (1)

alanwj (242317) | more than 13 years ago | (#177976)

> I must say that is an excellent analogy.

Re:Analogies (1)

alanwj (242317) | more than 13 years ago | (#177977)

"Windows is dial-up, and Linux is broadband" Heh. There is the analogy to which I was referring. It didn't go through the first time.

Central London: xDSL too expensive (2)

imipak (254310) | more than 13 years ago | (#177982)

I'm in central London. We've got access to cable (in theory) and xDSL. I haven't bothered looking into former as I'd have to move to the cable co's own ISP. The latter is available from my existing ISP (Demon Internet [] ) but it's fifty quid a month plus large installation charge - and that's the cheapest retail package, with a 20:1 contention ratio... (translation - fifty quid is about $75.)

I looked into this for while as I'm paying nearly that much in POTS charges, but now I've decided to run my own web proxy, upgrade to 56K (yep, I'm still on 33.6)' hopefully that'll reduce charges whilst speeding up access a bit. I'll look back at DSL when the contention ratio is better and the service is cheaper. Oh, and I've got the OpenBSD firewall/gateway working properly... at present it keeps locking the password file apparently at random...
"I'm not downloaded, I'm just loaded and down"

Broadband (1)

Husaria (262766) | more than 13 years ago | (#177986)

Broadband will slowly, but surely become de-facto.But not in the next 10 years. there will be ways to increase the speeds of a dial-up connection, and it might be even possible one day to have a phone line as fast as a DSL, of course, then it would BE a dsl.
Cable though, is increasing rapidly, I recall only 2 people in my town of 30,000 having cable, now that number has jumped to about 500.
Cable might become the standard, but the speeds of broadband are never really realized. I've got a 5MB connection, but at the highest, it has gone 760kb.
Lets work on the speed!

Nightmere Management (1)

nege (263655) | more than 13 years ago | (#177987)

I just canceled my DSL with Earthlink this week. In the 9 months that I have had DSL, it has gone out 3 times for various reasons including once cutt off by ATT because they didnt know what the line was for! (The bell tech guy needed some extra wire for a phone line so he decided to cut my DSL line all up for spare parts) Because so many companies are involved with the delivery of the service (earthlink, covad, ATT) it is simply a nightmere to manage, and none of the companies wants to take responsibility for all the communication errors. I will soon be getting a cable modem which will hopefully alleviate the problem. In addidtion to the down time of my internet connection, the bungeled serivce cost me time from work to wait for techs ("they will be there between 8:00am and 1:00pm!!" only never to show...), hours on hold, and loss of hair.

It's not the speed that's the standard. (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 13 years ago | (#177990)

Dial up is on the rise. Maybe broadband is rising faster, but the fact remains there are more dialup users out there than ever. J.D. claims it's become a standard.

But it's not the speed that the market is standardizing on, it's the price. Dial up costs around $20 a month. It's been that price for a long time. Until DSL or Cable can offer something that's price competitive with that, dial up will continue to be the major player.

What I would invest in is DSL coupled with wireless modems and a neighbor who splits the bandwidth/cost with you.

Re:Correct, but obvious (2)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#177994)

Broadband has been "just around the corner" for 15 years or so.

The difference is that 10 years ago (or 5, for that matter), I couldn't just call my cable/phone company and have a megabit+ run into my living room (at least, not for a price I could afford.) I'd say there's a big difference between a world where broadband is something companies talk about offering, and a world where they're aggressively rolling it out to the mass market. Whether consumers'll buy it is a completely different issue, and that's what Dvorak is tossing around in his uniquely informative way.

Luxury (3)

dachshund (300733) | more than 13 years ago | (#177995)

Most activity targets the dial-up user, making broadband just a luxury. And in some cases, it may be an unnecessary luxury, as full-speed feeds to broadband users are fairly rare. I have a megabit line into my home office, and when I view a streaming video feed, I still get a herky-jerky 20-Kbps stream

Color TV is just a luxury, too. The truth is, waiting for a modern site to load over a modem is just plain painful. Most dialup users don't realize this, as they've never used broadband-- instead, they think the net just has to be slow. Broadband is slowly making inroads into people's consciousness. The best thing about it is that it doesn't require you to make some massive choice as a content provider-- any site that works over a dial-up connection will work even better over broadband. And those 20K internet streams are generally the result of poor site design. I consistently find myself taking advantage of over a megabit of my connection, just for day-to-day applications: watching movie trailers, downloading files, etc.

As far as the increasing numbers of dial-up customers; well, that seems to conflict with another recent study that showed cable-modem and DSL use to be up significantly while overall numbers of Internet subscribers dropped. In any case, dialup connections are easy to get into and out of; they don't represent any sort of commitment. It's fairly likely that a good portion of the new dialup crowd will eventually find themselves using broadband.

Bah! Luddite! No, wait a minute... (3)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 13 years ago | (#178000)

I was all set for a good old rant about this, but I have to admit, he has a point. For those who can't be bothered reading the article (hi guys), he's saying that there's a Catch 22 with broadband. There's no incentive (or profit) to supply broadband content until there's a lot of broadband, and no incentive to get broadband until there's a lot of content.

It's hardly rocket science, but he makes a salient point. Read this, and have a good think:

  • A typical DSL connection costs about $600 a year--something not everyone can afford. We heavy Internet users see things differently and assume that everyone wants to be like us. But the AOL phenomenon should give us pause. Technology mavens saw AOL as training wheels for the Internet, yet AOL now dominates the online world, with over 20 million users--many of whom still use dial-up.

I have to hold my hand up here. I was with AOL back in the day, when there was very little alternative in the UK. I got off of it at soon as it made financial sense to do so. I expected my friends and family would to. They didn't. They stuck with it. I've shown them the alternatives, I've set them up for them, they're just a click and a phone call from freedom. And still they stick with AOL. It's what they know. It's all they need. They don't want to be bothered with changing ISP, and they most particularly don't want to go through the risk and hassle of changing to DSL or cable, because really, it wouldn't benefit them that much.

Need to stress broadband cost savings (1)

Brian_Ellenberger (308720) | more than 13 years ago | (#178002)

I think that they need to stress the fact that broadband is often as cheep or cheaper than a dialup plus a second phone line. People see $40 for broadband vs. $20 for dialup and they think it is twice as expensive and not worth it.

What they don't seem to realize is a second line is often ~20, so if your online enough to need a second line you might as well go broadband.

If it was available (1)

kLoNe343 (308775) | more than 13 years ago | (#178003)

In my living room we have 6 computers all sharing a 56k line. You can imagine how unbearibly slow it gets when 2 people are downloading, 1 person trying to surf, another uploading, etc..
We have to live with this because the only broadband available here (and 20 miles from here) is satelite. While satelite would be a whole lot better than what we have now, it is much too expensive for upstream and downstream service(
If only cable and DSL was available to everyone...

Cable Modems Suck (1)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 13 years ago | (#178008)

I *had* a cable modem. Maybe my experience was not typical, but IMHO the @home network has really crappy availability. Their DNS servers were never available. I found another ISP to pull DNS from, and then I could not access the internet as the default router was down alot.

I set up some automation on my home system to validate connectivity to the outside world, and I averaged more than 50 hours of outage time per week. when I finally got through to the tech support department to complain, they suggested there was a problem with my Windows and I should re-boot and see if that helps. I explained I don't use Windows, and they ended the call because I was using an un-supported OS. Bastards.

I now have a DSL modem, and the only major outage I have experienced was when there was a fire at the CO.

Cable modems? No thanks.

Cheap broadband. (1)

Calamere (318591) | more than 13 years ago | (#178009)

Want cheap broadband??? Want great service??

Answer: Move to Canada.

There's some kind of regulation in Canada that says you can't charge more than 50 dollars a month for a highspeed connection. I'm not sure if that applies for satellite though.

I've had great high speed access for years......

Re:Cheap broadband. (1)

Calamere (318591) | more than 13 years ago | (#178010)

As I said. I've ALWAYS had great service. Great service and a quick install. The only problems I ever had was when MY network card was on the fritz.

Re:Cheap broadband. (1)

Calamere (318591) | more than 13 years ago | (#178011)

If by "anything American must be bad" asshole you mean "Canadian" then, yes, you would be correct.

All I know is, I pay 49.95 a month then I get high speed access. Downloads at 200k a second (on a really good day). Probably 60k a second average. And I've NEVER had any problems with it. I can choose either DSL or Cable. My choice... 50 bucks a month for either.....

That's all I'm saying. No one I know around here has problems with their highspeed.....

It's enough when you have it at work (1)

Tricolor Paulista (323547) | more than 13 years ago | (#178013)

This may sound like a troll, but when I get at home after 9-11 hrs in front of a computer with a broadband connection, the last thing I want is to turn on my computer!

And for mail checking with pine (at the weekends), my narrowband connection will do perfectly.

It's just /. that spoils the picture... :))

Re:It's not the speed (1)

martyn s (444964) | more than 13 years ago | (#178020)

Is that supposed to be some ironic comment on the state of the linux community?? The whole reason Dvorak was saying why dial up is a standard is because of the average user, who doesn't even care all that much. you expect them to start writing scripts and running wget? Do you think the average user knows what wget is? The whole reason why dvorak commentary was flawed is that since dsl and dialups appear so similar, when dsl gets more ubiquitous some users might have it and not even really give it a second though. They're emachine might come with a DSL/Ethernet card rather than a modem.

wtf (2)

martyn s (444964) | more than 13 years ago | (#178021)

This was an email I wrote my father (who sent me the article) before I realized it was written by john dvorak. I'm glad I didn't know and have that cloud my judgement.

"Thanks for the article, I just have one question. What the fuck was he talking about?? "windows is a standard, not a product, sure it gets debugged, improved, new versions come out and it gets faster and better, but it's a standard." How about we apply the same logic to bandwidth: "bandwidth is a standard not a product. Sure it gets faster and better, but it's a standard." Why don't you ask this fucko who's still using windows 3.0? or 2.0? or 1.0? Oh but people still use a version of windows so it's a standard. So, same thing with bandwidth, sure, it's a standard, but in ten years from now we'll all be laughing at how slow cable speeds were (Let alone what we'll thing about dial up). This guy is such a fool, the last thing he said was "broadband may be decades away." so what does that mean, 20 years, at least? is this guy on crack! Of course people don't want broadband now because of the price. Does anyone really believe that bandwidth isn't getting cheaper and cheaper, daily? Does he really believe that we'll be going at a poky 34kbps in twenty years? or even in five???? The thing is, besides the price and the fact that it's more difficult to install since it's a new, niche product, DSL is basically the same thing as dial-up. Agreed, it's very different on a technical level, but to the user its essentially the same thing: stick a card in your computer and jack it into a phone line. As DSL becomes more ubiquitous, users might not necessarily even realize that they're using another product. In other words, if DSL is available to every phone jack, then there really isn't a difference from the users point of view. He says that most users are ambivalent about broadband, and I agree. But when their phone jack has access to DSL, and when Dell tells them to get a DSL/Ethernet card instead of modem, for say, 10 dollars extra, they *will* listen. What's this guy smokin?

Ok, maybe that was more than one question."

Re:Cheap broadband. (2)

martyn s (444964) | more than 13 years ago | (#178022)

Yeah, limit prices and competition, that's a great way to improve broadband service. Funny, where'd you get the "great service" part from? Does Canada have regulations about service too?

DSL here in Ottawa, Ontario (1)

kypper (446750) | more than 13 years ago | (#178024)

It's all resold by the same telco, Bell Canada, (*cough* crap) but at least it's much more stable than the cable provided by Rogers @home. (*cough* don'tknowhowtomakedhcpservers)

I regularly get 1.5 Mb/s downstream and 160 kb/s upstream, which apparently is about in the middle of the pack.

Here in Ottawa, MANY of us are on either cable or dsl. It is only the rural areas with problems breaking out of the 56k standard.

Wireless (1)

EccentricAnomaly (451326) | more than 13 years ago | (#178027)

I'm waiting for wireless broadband. Now that laptops don't cost a lot more than desktops I think mobility will be the new driver. Who wants to cable up their house? --especially when standards change every few years. Let's just get some low-flying satellite contellation to link up our laptops.... that way we could use them in our flying cars :)

Re:Broadband (1)

Blue Aardvark House (452974) | more than 13 years ago | (#178030)

Cable and DSL are good, but if your are too far away from the Central Office (CO) like my brother in NY is, you will not be able to get broadband service for a very long time.

Until these people are serviced, dial-up is their only feasible alternative.

Broadband frustration (1)

bareminimum (456719) | more than 13 years ago | (#178034)

It is a fallacy to pretend that nowadays broadband access does not make a noticeable difference compared to a 56k connection.

I believe that Dvorak is a little bit too infuriated with his DSL problems (hey, aren't we all) to make a honest and objective point on that issue. The thruth is that installing a DSL connection is a real pain in the neck and it can be very frustrating to deal with the incompetence of providers and their tech 'support' departments.

But then again isn't it a little bit dishonest of a former high-profile journalist desperatly in need of attention to publish nonsense like that just because he can't measure the difference?

56k might be considered as a standard for web development, but high quality video will never make it into that arena, and I really wonder where his 'tests' where conducted.
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