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Who's Got Broadband?

Alan Breznick

NOON -- It's game time again, dear readers. Let me introduce you to one of the hottest pastimes among regulators, lawmakers, pollsters, and policy wonks these days. It's called: "Who's Got Broadband?"

The challenge of playing this game is that nobody can agree on the right answer. So estimates tend to be all over the board. It all depends on whom you ask, how you ask them, where you ask them, and what you count as broadband. Is 200 kbit/s fast enough to qualify? Is 1 Mbit/s speedy enough?

Taking its semi-annual stab at this endlessly vexing question, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) came out with its latest profound judgment Wednesday. In its infinite wisdom, the Commission concluded that 42.9 million American homes had some kind of broadband connection at the end of last year, whether it be a cable modem, DSL, fiber-to-the-whatever line, satellite dish, terrestrial fixed, mobile wireless, or electric power line. Including business lines, the FCC counted a total of 50.2 million high-speed lines in service at the close of 2005, up from 37.9 million lines at the end of 2004.

But, as the FCC concedes, not all broadband connections are created equal. So it distinguishes between "high-speed data lines," which deliver data at speeds of more than 200 kbit/s in just one direction, and faster "advanced services lines," which deliver data at speeds of at least 200 kbit/s in both directions. The latter make up 42.8 million of the total broadband lines.

Still with me? Good. So who's winning the war between cable modems and DSL? Well, cable modems still account for a commanding 62 percent of the advanced services lines while DSL accounts for about 36 percent. But DSL gained market share on cable for the first time last year. Draw your own conclusions.

— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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Peter Heywood
Peter Heywood
12/5/2012 | 3:46:53 AM
re: Who's Got Broadband?
Andrew Odlyzko, a researcher who wrote some controversial articles on Internet bandwidth growth in the late 90s, points out that bandwidth by itself doesn't really define broadband.

He illustrates his point by saying that you could achieve the FCC's definition of broadband by simply having someone post you a DVD every day, using snail mail.

Odlyzko is also keen on pointing out that a lot of applications really don't need "real time" delivery. In his view, it's often less expensive for user appliances to be fitted with some storage than to try and engineer networks to deliver fancy QoS attributes.

Another intriguing point he makes is that there *is* a need for "better than real time" delivery. This means you can load up that local storage so that it masks moments when the network is congested.

Check out these articles:



12/5/2012 | 3:46:52 AM
re: Who's Got Broadband?
I recently read an article that stated that High-speed Internet Services rose 33%. DSL became the biggest share over modems (broadband?)for the first time. For the Residential areas, Cable comprised 57% of the High-speed Internet Services with DSL making up 41%.

Well given this, how much of the Internet Services market is defined as "Broadband"?
All those modems and snail mail are BB?
I barely consider my Cable (Comcast -> TWT) as BB because of all the congestion/limitations (128k up limited?) in the network. GPON won't fix that.

BTW -My neigbors have FIOS BB that is now beginning to see the first indications of network congestion/limitations. How long will it remain at expected BB speeds?

Delaying/buffering is not "better BB" to a customer except to improve non-real time poor quality video or audio.


Seems like I worked these symantic problems when those new 4800-1,2200 bps "high-speed" async modems became available.
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