Where is broadband heading in the US?

scissors
Here’s what I think is going to be big in the near future:
A lot of the commercial software publishing places have immense pipes for software downloads, now. And if the people in the forums are telling the truth, download speeds are mostly not capped (on the software publisher’s end).
The most prominent online publisher right has got to be Valve, with their Steam distribution system (http://www.steampowered.com/ ) which they used to distribute Halflife 2.
I heard that they had a phenomenal amount of bandwidth available for the release of HL2 – something like 1,500 Mb/s. I’m not aware of any download throttle or any other speed limitation they placed on users.
My own experience was that on the day HL2 was released, I bought and downloaded two copies – say maybe 6-8 GB of files, total – and it took all day. Based on the fact that it was on the first day, I was happy that it even just worked – both downloads went without a problem. But it was still a bitch that it took so long. It tied up two computers almost all of the day.
If I’d had a 10 mb/s connection, it would have taken less than two hours. For someone with a 1.5 mb/s connection, it would take about 12 hours.
Time is money.
The HL2 launch was a real test for Steam and they came out of it smelling like a rose. No real problems at all. The best thing for Valve was that they cut their CD publisher (Vivendi) out of the equation – making them significantly more bucks. As well as giving them complete control over the distribution.
Because of their success, this is a business model you can expect to see a lot more of in the coming years. Not only for games, but for all other kinds of software.
Another big coming download item will be movies.
A typical movie weighs in at around 6-8 GB. With pokey 2.5 mb/s connections, an 8 GB download takes maybe 7.3 hours. Obviously that isn’t something that will appeal to many people – tie their computer up for over 7 hours just to download one movie? Nah. Just too damned long.
But raise the download speed to 10 mb/s and that same download now takes only 109 minutes – now that’s almost workable.
If you live in Korea or Japan and have a 25 mb/s connection – as most people there do – you can download that movie in 45 minutes.
Or, if you live in Sequim or Shelton, Washington (which have F-T-H with 100 mb/s connections) that same download would take 11 minutes.
When the download’s complete, you slip a blank DVD in your burner, presto chango, you’ve got a copy of Ocean’s Twelve that you can watch three times, after which it becomes unplayable – all for $2.50 and you never had to leave your house.
And then there’s streaming video, which is also destined to become very popular.
How long will it take to have companies available to deliver movies over the internet in the US? That’s completely dependant on how fast true broadband is deployed.
I’m guessing that the threshold for movie downloads to become popular will be around 10 mb/s – that is, when a 10 mb/s connection becomes the standard, then downloading or streaming movies over the internet will start to become common. If people have to wait longer than a couple of hours for a download, or play a streaming movie in a screen that’s 80X60 pixels wide, then no one’s going to want it.
10 mb/s is the appropriate threshold for both downloads and streaming video.
There are already a number of companies positioned to make the move to downloads as a business model – like http://www.netflix.com/ for example. I actually found one company that already offers downloads: http://www.cinemanow.com/home.aspx
(they offer both streaming and downloads). But I can’t believe that they get much business – at least from the US.
Korea and Japan – the countries that lead the world in broadband deployment – are beginning to build-out a network that can deliver between 50 and 100 mb/s to homes – they’ve already outgrown their 25 mb/s connections. See: http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?site=lightreading&doc_id=62280 or
http://www.iht.com/articles/541830.html
Yahoo Japan and their partner Softbank now offer 100 mb/s fiber-to-home service costing just $38 US per month!
Everyone knocks Optimum Online because they’re losing money with their 10 mb/s down, 1 mb/s up service. My response is, yeah, sure, they’re losing money, but whatever their bottom-line, they are apparently happy with it. They’ve stuck with their business model and didn’t even raise their rates this year. And they’re expanding, even.
Has Amazon.com made money yet? Or yahoo.com?
OOL has the correct vision of where the country will be heading (all you really have to do is look at Korea or Japan). OOL’s just ahead of the wave here – they had the balls to get out front and lead, rather than waiting timidly on the sidelines to see what the “big boys” were doing. They know their business model is sound. They’re just waiting for the rest of us to catch up/
According to news reports, bandwidth costs have dropped over 50% compared to last year’s prices.
Here’s a report out of Light Reading, a telecom industry trade journal:
“The average price that the companies pay for STM-1 (155 Mbit/s) connectivity to global Internet fell by 55 percent in U.S. cities and by 49 percent in Europe over the past 12 months, TeleGeography says. In Asia, prices declined at a comparable rate, but are still twice as high as those in the U.S. and Europe.”
Here’s an url for the whole article: http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?site=lightreading&doc_id=59445
And an article from Wired on the same subject: http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,65121,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_5
Did you read that? “[Asian] prices declined at a comparable rate but are still twice as high as those in the US…” But yet Japanese companies can offer 100 mb/s connections for $38 US? How the hell you suppose that works?
I don’t know what Comcast pays for bandwidth. But because they’re the largest ISP in the country, I’m guessing the pay substantially less than anyone else. So if the average price for wholesale bandwidth fell 55% in the US, then Comcast has got to be rolling in dough because of the vast quantities they buy – I’m sure they get the very best prices anywhere.
Our own local municipal broadband internet utility, Click, buys from various sources: Internap, Electric Lightwave and Global Crossings to name three. If wholesale prices have fallen 55% on the average in the last year, then unless Click management is dirt stupid (which may very well be true) then they are also paying, on the average, 55% less than last year. It wouldn’t even be as sweet a deal as what Comcast gets for bandwidth; they’re worlds apart. But it should be about half whatever it was they paid last year.
Thus, if Click was making a reasonable profit last year, then this year they should be making, on the average, 55% more. Meaning, they could chop their rates or offer more bandwidth and still be making good money. Q.E.D.
Which is why I am pushing them so hard to provide more bandwidth.
The kinds of applications I want are, at least right now, mostly only available in Korea or Japan. And I’ll tell you what: that pisses me off!
Why the hell should Americans take a back seat to all these different kinds of great new technology, to the Koreans and Japanese?
I want to talk with my mom by videophone. I want to download movies and music. I want to download games that take up three DVD’s of space. And I want it all right now at the same time, while I’m playing an online game on my own server with 64 other people.
There’s only one main thing holding all this back: greed.
It’s all the small-minded, greedy ISP’s in the US that keep pinching pennies, trying to milk the last little dollar out of every drop of bandwidth. By them keeping prices high and limiting our bandwidth, they’re turning us into a third world country.
It’s that AOL mindset. 56k is all anyone needs!
I’ll tell you what: AOL is mostly dead already, and they’re too stupid to know it. Unless they take some really aggressive steps to change their business model very soon, they’ll be history in short order. And then in 20 years, no one will even remember what the hell AOL stands for. “Was that Absent Over Leave?”
Click has much the same mindset, and it really bothers me.
They have no real understanding of some of the very most fundamental aspects of the broadband industry. And I find that very troubling.
So what’s my bottom line?
All I’m saying is that real broadband, with connections in the 10-25 mb/s range is coming and very soon – so why fight it?
Fourteen years ago, I had a computer with a 20 MB hard drive – an HP 150 Touchscreen. It ran a proprietary version of MS-DOS – version 3.10. It had Word version 1.3 on it – the exe file for Word was a whopping 64KB. The machine had 640 K of RAM. Back then, a modem that really screamed ran at 2,400 baud. The computer was great for everything I needed at the time. I never actually did fill-up that 20 MB drive.
Last week I had to buy a new hard drive for my current computer because I was having space problems – I had two drives with a total of 80 GB. I replaced the second 60 GB drive with a new 200 GB drive and now I have extra space again – at least for a while.
But if you’d tried to tell me back in 1991 that I’d ever even need over 200 GB of HD space, I’d have called you a retard. Who the hell could ever use that much space? Gimme a break!
No, just as the size of hard drives has increased, the need for bandwidth will always go up as well.
And as soon as a certain level of bandwidth is available, there will always be applications ready and waiting to fill up that bandwidth. Every time.
It’s like the movie Field of Dreams. You remember, “Build it and they will come.”
The ISP’s make the bandwidth available, it will be used. I guarantee it.

Where is broadband heading in the US?

Here’s what I think is going to be big in the near future:
A lot of the commercial software publishing places have immense pipes for software downloads, now. And if the people in the forums are telling the truth, download speeds are mostly not capped (on the software publisher’s end).
The most prominent online publisher right has got to be Valve, with their Steam distribution system which they used to distribute Halflife 2.
I heard that they had a phenomenal amount of bandwidth available for the release of HL2 – something like 1,500 Mb/s. I’m not aware of any download throttle or any other speed limitation they placed on users.
My own experience was that on the day HL2 was released, I bought and downloaded two copies – say maybe 6-8 GB of files, total – and it took all day with my 3 mb/s connection. Based on the fact that it was on the first day, I was happy that it even just worked – both downloads went without a problem. But it was still a bitch that it took so long. It tied up two computers almost all of the day.
If I’d had a 10 mb/s connection, it would have taken less than two hours. For someone with a 1.5 mb/s connection, it would take about 12 hours.
Time is money.

Continue reading “Where is broadband heading in the US?”

Dawn of the Dead

Chris Vance

Washington State Governor’s Race

The Saga Continues
In an election fraught with problems and strife, now new charges of impropriety have come to light.
The dead have spoken, seemingly, and their clear choice for governor is Christine Gregoire.
According to the King County elections manager, as many as 22 dead people voted in the election last November. These cases are under investigation and criminal charges may be filed in at least three of the instances.
That tidbit, problems with provisional ballots and also the fact that King County may have had several thousand more votes than actual registered voters all has the state Republicans throwing a hissy fit.
Chris Vance, state Republican Party Chair, and his cronies are now slinging thinly veiled charges of voter fraud and demanding a new election as a remedy. They also appear to be on the verge of filing lawsuits with the goal of invalidating the results of the election.
In that election, much to the Republican’s chagrin, Christine Gregoire won by 129 votes.
Unfortunately, when reconciling the votes last week, King County initially had as many as 3,500 more votes cast than there are actual registered voters. As of today, the un-reconciled number was reportedly down to around 1,200 votes.
King County officials have stated that a total of 1,200 un-reconciled ballots would be in-line with the results of previous elections and is nothing that would form the basis for a court to order a new election. While this may be true, apparently the votes from dead people may be more problematic.
The whole thing is a rather sticky wicket.
Personally, I believe we ought to settle for nothing less than 100% accuracy in our elections. In this day and age, nothing less is acceptable.
How would it play if your bank screwed up your account, and then told you, “Well, it’s 95% accurate! So we lost a couple deposits? What do you want? Perfection?” Or maybe if your employer only paid you for most of the hours you worked? I don’t think either of those situations would fly.
Elections should be no different. Anything less than 100% accuracy is intolerable.
Even so, I strongly believe that these current problems should not invalidate the recent Governor’s election.
If the Republicans truly want a replay of the Governor’s race election, that’s great, but we shouldn’t stop there. To be fair, each election in the state needs to be re-examined and in every instance where the un-reconciled amount of ballots is enough to sway the outcome of that contest, then those elections need to be redone as well.
It should be all or nothing. Either we accept the results of the Governor’s race, or we re-examine them all – replay the entire state election.
All races are equally important. That is the only fair and proper way to do this.
But like I said, I still do not believe that a revote is appropriate at this time.
Sam Reed, the Secretary of State – a Republican – has a much better idea, which centers around prospective reforms in the election process. This is the way we should go.
By harping about a revote, Dino Rossi and Chris Vance have damaged their credibility beyond repair. Through the course of this whole ugly saga, what’s become readily apparent is that the GOP truly cares very little about the wishes of the voters, much less determining the will of the people. What they care about is winning the Governorship – at whatever cost.
The whole thing is sour grapes, period.
And the sooner they admit that and move on, the better off the whole state will be.