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Size Matters with Broadband!!!

December 1, 2006 - 2 Comments

SAN JOSE, CA – I have a confession to make. I’m not a technologist. I’m not a telecom lawyer. I’m, on my good days, a communicator. So, with that in mind, I may ask a lot of questions that a technologist or telecom lawyer SHOULD maybe know. But, as they say, there are no bad questions and that’s how one learns.Today, a report was released by Pike & Fischer, an excellent analysis and advisory firm, that reports that broadband in the U.S. has now reached “51.4 million subscribers, having added 2.45 million new customers during the” quarter. They continue saying that, “At this rate, we project that broadband subscriptions in the United States will reach or even exceed 54 million by yearend, up more than 1 million from our original estimates for the year.”Which brings us back to the title of this entry. What is broadband? How is this being defined? As I’ve said before, the FCC measures broadband at 200Kbps, roughly (back in the day) the speed they determined it took to go to a new webpage at the same speed as turning a page in a book. This, I would think, was for just text and nothing more. Now that we have embedded videos, heavy graphics, advertisements and if broadband is still being measured as 200Kbps (in this report for instance – which, I have not seen or read) then this measurement means very little to me…or to anybody, I would think. The old dial-up modems, for your non-technology comparison, usually clocked in at 54Kbps, so “broadband” would be a little under four times as fast. However, let’s be real, we now live in a Megabit world, not a kilobit world and that’s how we should measure our “success” in broadband.Fiber Optic.jpgThe visionary, digitally-savvy Mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Graham Richard, was at Cisco yesterday and he talked a bit about how much fiber is in Fort Wayne. Enough fiber to give up to 100Mbps to 128,000 households in his 250,000 population city…thanks largely to his pitch to Verizon to make Fort Wayne a showcase city. (Any errors in these numbers or reporting are mine.) If this new report (and the FCC) was measuring broadband at even 5Mbps (roughly enough speed to watch a high-quality video in realtime) instead of the 200Kbps (roughly enough speed to read or – but not tap into their audio or video) then we would be a little more honest in our measurements.Size DOES matter.

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  1. An interesting discussion on the evolution of broadband and the current surge in the market. I remember the days an ISDN connection was considered cutting edge, now residential t1 lines are become more and more common.”

  2. Check out Russell Shaw’s blog on this topic over at ZDNet. He includes a poll where you can vote for your favorite”” speed at how broadband should be defined. His post is here: