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Want 50Mps Internet in your town?
Old 10-31-2009, 07:17 AM   #1
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Want 50Mps Internet in your town?

There is this article to go along with the other recent threads about the bullying we are "putting up with" from the Nation's communication companies.

Want 50Mbps Internet in your town? Threaten to roll out your own - Ars Technica

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But the entire congratulatory press release glosses over a key fact: the reason that Monticello received a fiber network was the town's decision to install a municipal-owned fiber network to every home in town… spawning a set of TDS lawsuits that went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the town.

Such stories aren't limited to Minnesota suburbs, either. Just last month Telephony Online ran a piece on how Cox cable prices had "dropped considerably" since Lafeyette, Louisiana lit up a fiber system of its own.

When Time Warner Cable (which still tops out at 10Mbps and no DOCSIS 3.0) was asked why it had not stepped up to meet the city's [Wilson NC] demand for faster [100Mps] access, a company rep told TechJournal South that it hadn't actually heard a citizen outcry over the issue—or it would have acted.
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:13 AM   #2
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Our home town's economic development group has approved the funding to bring a fiber optic line with a very wide pipe into town (by building a few extra miles of cable). Initially this would be used by city and county government offices, the hospital, the library and and the schools (I think they all use much slower satellite now). It's also been stated that at some point they may open the pipe to local business and residential use, though that might cause some head-butting with Verizon, who offers residential DSL service in town.
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:13 AM   #3
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I dread the release of more and more 100Mbps systems. I don't want to pay $50 or more a month for that high a speed - I don't need it. But the more prevalent it becomes, the more web designers assume you have high speed and it effectively "slows down" my medium speed connection.

I literally used to get much faster response times on some things with a 1200 baud modem and 16Mhz computer than I do today. Sure, no fancy graphics, just plain text, but sometimes that is all I need, and I would prefer the speed. Some happy medium would be nice - I wish more sites would offer "low bandwidth" options.

The real problem that the article describes is that the provider has a virtual monopoly. Isn't there a better way to spur competition than getting the govt so directly involved in the business?

-ERD50
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:20 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
The real problem that the article describes is that the provider has a virtual monopoly. Isn't there a better way to spur competition than getting the govt so directly involved in the business?
You'd like to think, but I think it's cost-prohibitive in relatively rural areas like mine. You'd have providers spending many millions of dollars, most likely, to bring their lines into a population of less than 5,000 people. The math doesn't work.

Small, fairly remote towns like ours probably either need some municipal participation or the development of much faster satellite services. We're served by Verizon for DSL, for example -- but FIOS is a pipe dream here because of the cost to Verizon to build it relative to a small increased subscriber base.

Still, I agree with you about "bandwidth creep" on web sites and applications. Just because you have more capacity doesn't mean you have to use it any more than having a Ferrari means you have to take it to its limits on the open road. There may be situations where you need more bandwidth, but too many sites do it only because they can, and in places that add no value or increased usability.
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I dread the release of more and more 100Mbps systems. I don't want to pay $50 or more a month for that high a speed - I don't need it. But the more prevalent it becomes, the more web designers assume you have high speed and it effectively "slows down" my medium speed connection.

I literally used to get much faster response times on some things with a 1200 baud modem and 16Mhz computer than I do today. Sure, no fancy graphics, just plain text, but sometimes that is all I need, and I would prefer the speed. Some happy medium would be nice - I wish more sites would offer "low bandwidth" options.

The real problem that the article describes is that the provider has a virtual monopoly. Isn't there a better way to spur competition than getting the govt so directly involved in the business?

-ERD50
I just tested the speed of my cable internet connection, and this morning it is 45.894 Mbps. It costs $43.95/month. But like you, I am extremely aggravated by what is either incompetence of webpage designers, or their "who cares?" attitude. There are good websites that I boycott simply because they are so slow to load. I could care less about their "ooooh, cool!!!" graphics and would prefer a simple ascii text webpage to some of the slow loading webpages I have seen lately.

And as long as I am on a rant, I almost never want to watch a video if I can read an article instead. You can't speedread a video. Pretty soon written English will be obsolete, at this rate. [/rant]
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:40 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
I just tested the speed of my cable internet connection, and this morning it is 45.894 Mbps. It costs $43.95/month. But like you, I am extremely aggravated by what is either incompetence of webpage designers, or their "who cares?" attitude. There are good websites that I boycott simply because they are so slow to load. I could care less about their "ooooh, cool!!!" graphics and would prefer a simple ascii text webpage to some of the slow loading webpages I have seen lately.
I digress somewhat, but as someone with a software development background, I can attest that the proliferation of cheap and expandable hardware has led to the same "who cares" attitude in many software engineers.

Back in the day (should I wave my cane?), a system had (say) 64K of RAM, period, and if you couldn't execute the program in 64K, you had to make it more efficient. You couldn't just say "who cares" with sloppy and inefficient code and up the memory requirements to 128K to handle it. Programmers in that day had to be wizards, creating some fabulous and wizard-like approaches to solving problems like those. Now they just throw more RAM at it or a faster CPU at it or more bandwidth at it or larger hard drives at it and put little emphasis on more efficient code or a smaller "footprint" for storage, memory and bandwidth requirements.

I'm not saying expandability and bandwidth increases are a bad thing, but they do lead to sloppy development habits.
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:46 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
And as long as I am on a rant, I almost never want to watch a video if I can read an article instead. You can't speedread a video.
I second that emotion. I also hate those sites that present a ten page document and require each page to be loaded separately.
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:50 AM   #8
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I second that emotion. I also hate those sites that present a ten page document and require each page to be loaded separately.
And I've already ranted about the sites that automatically queue up and start loading streaming video and audio a few days ago, so I won't go there again. Oops, just did....
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Old 10-31-2009, 10:53 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post
And as long as I am on a rant, I almost never want to watch a video if I can read an article instead. You can't speedread a video.[/rant]
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Originally Posted by RonBoyd View Post
I second that emotion. I also hate those sites that present a ten page document and require each page to be loaded separately.
And while we're at it, the neighborhood kids should just get off my lawn!!

I know we sound like a curmudgeoness and curmudgeon, but I couldn't agree with you more. Kids Software developers these days!
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:31 AM   #10
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Our home town's economic development group has approved the funding to bring a fiber optic line with a very wide pipe into town (by building a few extra miles of cable). Initially this would be used by city and county government offices, the hospital, the library and and the schools (I think they all use much slower satellite now). It's also been stated that at some point they may open the pipe to local business and residential use, though that might cause some head-butting with Verizon, who offers residential DSL service in town.
Interesting.

Most cities around here determine which of the providers will have the local control of cable, telephone, and broadband. A few years ago, the city of Tacoma wasn't getting the response it wanted from US West (now Qwest) about priority for installing high speed service. So it built its own service. They were trying to provide infrastructure to support growth of business in the central business district. Locals citizens benefited.

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Old 10-31-2009, 11:38 AM   #11
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The web, as I use it, would be nearly worthless at modem speeds...
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:57 PM   #12
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You'd like to think, but I think it's cost-prohibitive in relatively rural areas like mine. You'd have providers spending many millions of dollars, most likely, to bring their lines into a population of less than 5,000 people. The math doesn't work.
But isn't it a bit of an financial/optical illusion to say that the math changes if the govt steps in? What changes, really?

Let's take your example of an area that is too small to attract a business due to start-up costs. There are a few options:

A) A few early adopters offer huge amounts of money to initially bring the service in (not likely in this case - maybe a business could do this).

B) The municipality decides that it is in the "common good" to provide access to the service. They have a couple options:
B1) Offer to pay enough of the initial start-up costs to attract a (or 2 or 3) business(es) to provide the service. Once the start-up costs per potential customer are the same as any other area, the math works for them.

B2) Go into business and do it themselves.

B3) Some hybrid - install the 'pipes' and charge access to a provider (or several) of the service, who in turn sells the services to the customers
If the demand was not there for the service, the govt shouldn't be spending the people's money on it. If the demand is there, then the business should have no problem investing in the area. I can see where the govt getting involved may speed things up and make it less risky for the business - the govt can essentially speak as "one voice" for the people, and essentially guarantee that some of the costs will be recouped. In any case, the people are paying the start up costs, either through their taxes or to the business in fees, etc.

In any case, w/o competition due to barriers of entry (start up costs and possible public access issues to get the 'pipes' installed), we are ripe for being raked over the coals. I'm a big fan of the fixed wireless solutions - one antenna can serve a several mile radius, so it is possible to have real competition in most areas w/o all the issues of installing 'pipes' in the streets.


I agree with the many other comments in the threads, esp the recent increase in video for so many things. Video is great for some things, but I can't speed-read or skim to see if they cover the specific info I'm looking for. Bummer to sit through 10 minutes just to find out they never did get to the subtopic I was interested in ( often do a quick search for a keyword before I even skim an article - I *love* the "find as you type" setting in FireFox). And while I consider 100Mbps a 'luxury' that I don't care to pay for, I would not want to go back to dial up either.

-ERD50
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:48 PM   #13
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I digress somewhat, but as someone with a software development background, I can attest that the proliferation of cheap and expandable hardware has led to the same "who cares" attitude in many software engineers.

Back in the day (should I wave my cane?), a system had (say) 64K of RAM, period, and if you couldn't execute the program in 64K, you had to make it more efficient. You couldn't just say "who cares" with sloppy and inefficient code and up the memory requirements to 128K to handle it. Programmers in that day had to be wizards, creating some fabulous and wizard-like approaches to solving problems like those. Now they just throw more RAM at it or a faster CPU at it or more bandwidth at it or larger hard drives at it and put little emphasis on more efficient code or a smaller "footprint" for storage, memory and bandwidth requirements.

I'm not saying expandability and bandwidth increases are a bad thing, but they do lead to sloppy development habits.

LOL.... I work for a software company and the head of development is one of those 'who cares' guys.... he sees RAM as a commodity.... however, if you sell to a company who has 1,000 people and it is not just the RAM they need to increase, but buy all new computers and other stuff.... then the cost of you system install can now approach $1 mill... not a small sum... so, why do software people not get this
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Old 10-31-2009, 06:14 PM   #14
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I wish my town would do this. There is only 1 option, a small cable company. I think competition would drive price down. Well, I guess dial up modem is an option...
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:16 AM   #15
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Man, I bet y'all were really POed when they started paving roads too. Had to replace those expensive horseshoes twice as often as when it was all dirt.
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