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U.S. Internet Providers Seek Low Broadband Bar

Fergie writes: A Reuters newswire article, via Forbes.com, reports that:

"The biggest U.S. Internet service providers urged regulators to adopt a conservative definition of 'broadband,' arguing for minimum speeds that were substantially below many other nations.

The submissions were filed with the Federal Communications Commission which had sought comments by Aug. 31 on how the agency should define broadband for a report to be submitted to Congress early next year.

The Obama administration is seeking ways to extend broadband services to both unserved Americans living in rural areas and to make broadband affordable for those living in urban areas.

Some of the submissions from service providers argued for a definition that even undercut an international ranking of U.S. Internet speed."

Read full story: Forbes

Related topics: Access Providers, Broadband, Policy & Regulation, Telecom

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Comments

Not to split hairs, or bits and bytes... Dan Campbell  –  Sep 02, 2009 7:23 PM PST

...but I have to laugh at these kinds of articles, and in Forbes no less.  You lose credibility in a hurry when you are writing an article about what broadband speeds should be yet you don't know the difference between a bit and a byte, or that telecom services are measured in bits-per-second not bytes-per-second.  In the high(er) speed world we are in now, Mbps = Megabits per second, not bytes.  It's a critical distinction by almost an order of magnitude.

Second of all, I highly doubt any country is truly offering and delivering almost a full FastEthernet of bandwidth to residential subscribers.  That would basically mean a MetroE FastE link or an OC3 local loop to each subscriber's house.  Doubtful at best.  What is probably more likely is that those boasting of such speeds are delivering fiber, in either FastE or OC3 format, to a multi-dwelling unit, after which the service is heavily oversubscribed with all tenants sharing the FastE or OC3 or 92Mbps of bandwidth. You have to consider the population density and oversubscripion in these kinds of analyses.

We can't make progress if we (a.) can't get the terms correct and (b.) don't attempt to compare apples to apples.

Re: Not to split hairs, or bits and bytes... Fergie  –  Sep 02, 2009 7:31 PM PST

Splitting hairs?

Surely you jest.

American ISPs and Telecoms are some of the most active lobbyists on Capitol Hill, and this surely shows that they are trying to lower the standard "definition" of "broadband" to something which is much more palatable to their business models, and not serving the interest of their customers.

You can spin this however you like, but statistics (and valid statistics, I might add) show that the U.S. consumer is ill-served by the telecom industry in America.

Splitting hairs?

I say, Sir — this is more an issue of calling a foul for what it is.

- ferg

No I don't jest... Dan Campbell  –  Sep 02, 2009 7:48 PM PST

That may be true, the big boys have lots of $$$ and lots of lawyers for sure, and I certainly hope things improve with better service, higher speeds and more features.  But it doesn't make my points inaccurate.  The article is wrong when it says "BYTES" instead of "BITS" and immediately leads you to be skeptical of the quality of anything else in it.  That's a simple and fundamental as it gets in networking and telecom services.  Get it right, or don't write about it.  It misleads the non-technical masses who don't know better.  Second, I would like to see a serious analysis and concrete proof that residents in Japan are getting almost full FastE to their house for their exclusive use.  I highly doubt it.  Prove it.

Re: No I don't jest... Fergie  –  Sep 02, 2009 7:55 PM PST

Bits, bytes.

Tilting at windmills.

I have a close friend and colleague who live in Tokyo (my company is incorporated in Japan) who has a 10Mbps up/down residential broadband connection in his home.

That will never happen in the U.S. — ever.

And you're arguing for status quo?

Yikes.

- ferg

Re: No I don't jest... Fergie  –  Sep 02, 2009 7:58 PM PST

Oh, and I forgot to add — it's cheape rthan my 8Mbps/1.5Mbps Comcast fiasco.

Go figure.

- ferg

Re: No I don't jest... Fergie  –  Sep 02, 2009 8:04 PM PST

Also, Dan — I've noticed from your BIO/Profile that you're a marketing guy, not a network operations guy.

Well, I am, and I can tell you that the issues are much more complictaed that bit and bytes.

They are speed, availability, and neutrality. And cost.

- ferg

10Mbps and 92Mbps are quite different last I checked Dan Campbell  –  Sep 02, 2009 8:07 PM PST

My guess is that they factored in multi-dwelling units into the evaluation that came up with the near-FastE average speed.  It's misleading.  10 is reasonable, but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't entirely accurate either.  I'm sure it's a shared, oversubscribed service, as is all of broadband.  And we can get that and better in the US in many locations, perhaps at a higher price than Japan I don't know.  Either way, broadband is cheap given the speed you get and the capabilities it offers you.  If I telecommute just 3 days a month, my broadband bill is paid for.  And that's just one benefit, and just one way of looking at the cost and justifying it.

And I'm not really sure I understand your scoff at bits versus bytes.  They are quite a bit different (pun intended).  It's a fairly critical distinction.  Is the speed limit in miles-per-hour or miles-per-second?

Wrong Dan Campbell  –  Sep 02, 2009 8:12 PM PST

I'm an engineer and consultant that has spent close to two decades designing, building and operating domestic and global enterprise and service provider networks, including broadband services.  I know the bits and bytes.  I've also done enough work on the strategy and product development side to know the business models and how the number$ work.

I've done very little if anything at all in true marketing.  I have no idea how you came to that conclusion but perhaps I need to have a look at my bio again (but it does give me an idea of why you misinterpret bits and bytes though.)

Re: Wrong Fergie  –  Sep 02, 2009 8:18 PM PST

Well then Dan, stop acting like a lobbyist.

I've been working in the telecom industry for over 20 years, and I like to think I know a little bit about what I speak.

That's part of the reason why I don't work there any more.

Part of that time, in the mid- to -late 19902's was working for Cisco Systems helping PTTs and other global network providers understand how to deliver data services. I even wrote a couple of books on the topic.

Sorry if I don't swallow that, given your arguments. This just seems like a complete effort to support the lame excuses of the telecom industry — by a "consultant" — and whitewash the real issue.

Good luck with all that.

Cheers,

- ferg

Re: 10Mbps and 92Mbps are quite different last I checked Fergie  –  Sep 02, 2009 8:12 PM PST

I scoff because nothing in the U.S even approaches either number, and now you sounding like a shill for the telecom industry.

If you don't want consumers in the U.S to be able to have access to high-speed Internet at cheap prices, just say so. Don't try to wrap in in some disingenuous argument.

- ferg

Re: Not to split hairs, or bits and bytes... Fergie  –  Sep 02, 2009 8:32 PM PST

Checking you LinkedIn profile, I see that we have t reversed similar paths, although you seem to have stayed in the "Beltway Bandit" realm, whereas I decide after Military Service and COMSEC duties to move one, with the exception of several short-term stints for Beltway Bandit firms myself (e.g. AT&T;, Grumman, Raytheon, et al.) back in the early 1990's.

I don't disparage your work or your service, but I have to ask why you are defending a failed broadband policy in the U.S.

Maybe staying in the D.C. area? :-)

- ferg

Grew up here, great place to live Dan Campbell  –  Sep 02, 2009 9:03 PM PST

DC is a great area to live for alot of reasons.  I've traveled the world, mostly for work, every continent (well, except Antartica), lots of countries and cities, not to mention domestic travel, and yet I still love DC.  My Booz Allen days are the only ones that would qualify as "Beltway Bandit" but in a slightly different way than the big integrators that you mention.  The rest of my time has predominantly been in commerical engagements or direct employment in commercial companies doing commerical work.  And am I not a lobbyist (are you kidding?), nor in marketing (now you REALLY must be kidding!), nor do I currently have any direct relationship with the telecom companies you are speaking of, other than as an occasional consultant (but not at the moment).  I'm indifferent to their success or failure; I'm just honest about what I see.  I'm in no way defending the telcos and cable providers (ask anyone who knows me what I REALLY have to say off the record about traditional telcos) nor am I defending a "failed broadband policy".  I'd love to see more competition, higher speeds (to the point where speed becomes a moot point, if we can ever get there) and better features.  But I think there is a lot of clutter in these arguments and alot of misleading information, so I will sometimes call it out like when an article that centers on broadband speeds can't get correct the terminology that defines how telecom service speed is measured.  I do believe that all the fuss about broadband prices in the US being too high is nonsense.  I know that "expensive" or "cheap" are relative words, but given what you get for about $40/month, it's a steal, and much cheaper than any leased line alternative that truly would guarantee whatever bandwidth you bought.  Except for water, I'm not sure any other utility I have provides the same value for the price.

Re: Grew up here, great place to live Fergie  –  Sep 02, 2009 9:11 PM PST

So, look it — I grew up in Virginia myself, spent a career in the U.S. Military, and have been working in the telecom, security, and intelligence community all the while (and to this day).

I have n problem with you personally, Dan, but you're espousing the same arguments that the telecoms are in favor of knee-capping any real broadband growth and sustainability in the U.S.

Let's just agree to disagree, because I assure you, I won't let anyone get the last word on a issue I feel so passionate about.s.

The U.S. is lagging behind the rest of world in broadband deployment for a variety of reasons, bu the most egregious is the financial deceptions of the telecoms themselves.

If you deny that, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.

Cheers,

- ferg

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