Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Broadband Delimma Part 2

How fast do our broadband connections need to be? This was a question discussed in a recent National League of Cities meeting regarding a National Broadband Policy.

Current U.S. standards set the definition of "broadband" as at least 200kbps. It's important to recognize the bandwidth and speed demands of the current and upcoming IP applications. For instance, borrowed from a FTTP paper from the Baller Herbst Law Group (reference)
is the following chart:

So in this case there is basically nothing you can do at 200kbps, except for basic web surfing and email. Any thoughts of high-definition video is completely out of the question.

The problem with using these numbers in the chart as a guide is they don't even address the simultaneous use of the different applications in a single location. Example: how many televisions do you have in your house? Are they ever used at the same time? If you had an IPTV provider like AT&T or Verizon as your provider, you would need bandwidth that accommodates multiple HD signals and any other Internet applications that might be in use. I think we're talking in the 100mbps range as a near goal and need. You couple the entertainment venues with the increasing number of people working from home and using their broadband connection and all of the sudden 100mbps doesn't seem so big. As a reference point, Japan is the world leader at 100mbps.

So, here's the debate. With the rich, bandwidth intensive applications on the horizon and the economic competitiveness of the United States at stake, how robust and how much speed should we expect from our broadband infrastructure? I urge you to watch this debate in Washington D.C. from the FCC, Congress and throughout the Presidential candidate discussions. I also urge you to let your thoughts be known by posting to this blog.



At 12:34 PM , Blogger Paul said...

The Communications Workers of America thru thier Speed Matters project advocate a 2 mbps downstream and 1 mbps upstream as the new current standard for broadband, with a 10 mbps down and 1 mbps up by 2010. Visit the Speed Matters site at www.speedmatters.org for more on the subject.

At 5:49 PM , Blogger Andy Huckaba said...

I've read the Speed Matters info and even they indicate 6mbps is required for apps like video conferencing. Following are some excerpts from
America Needs a Fiber-Based National Broadband Policy Now, If Not Sooner
By Jim Baller and Casey Lide, the Baller Herbst Law Group

In fact, to rely on a future involving anything less than a 100 Mbps broadband capacity is to be truly shortsighted.17 The math is simple:

Assuming two set-top boxes per home and simultaneous recording or picture-in-picture capabilities, four HDTV channels compressed via MPEG-4 are likely to require a total of at least 50 Mbps capacity. If the provider allocates an additional 20 Mbps for data and Voice over IP (VoIP), then the total bandwidth requirement becomes at least 70 Mbps.

A study by Jupiter Research in 2005 concluded that, by 2009, average households will
need 57-72 Mbps of bandwidth and that “tech savvy” households will consume nearly 100 Mbps. A significant amount of this bandwidth will support in-home wireless applications, as well as high definition television and other bandwidth-rich applications. According to a leading industry journal, Jupiter’s research “provides justification for such technologies as FTTx, which can deliver that bandwidth to the home….”

A study in 2005 by Technology Futures is of particular interest because it was funded
and supported by the Bells. The study concluded that “in the 2006 time frame, a shift to
much higher data rates in the range of 24 Mbps to 100 Mbps is likely to begin. So far, only a few places have access at these rates, notably Japan.”

You can download this paper at http://www.baller.com/pdfs/Baller-Lide_AmericaNeedsNatlBBPlanNow_10-06.pdf

At 3:27 PM , Anonymous Dustin Jacobsen said...

I think you have a very valid point that most people utilize multiple services.

With my new hi-def TV I'm anxious to get my hands on as much hi-def (1080p) content as possible and I'm not excited about forking out $1,000 for a blu-ray player (or $500 for a PS3, which would be the smart way to go).

I would much rather have on-demand programming than be tied into someone else's TV programming schedule.

My DVR allows me to time shift anyway, but from an advertising perspective, I would much rather advertise based on the day part viewing of the content than the time the spot was supposed to run, because there is a bigger discrepancy with the growth of DVRs. This model could also accommodate time zone shifts much better.

I think this also highlights the importance of prioritizing the bandwidth for specific applications.

I recently switched from DSL to cable, and I am now getting about 6MB download speed, and I think highest they offer is 10 MB.

I'm not sure the infrastructure is in place to accommodate such bandwidth demands, but am wondering if there will have to be a mixture of wireless or WI-MAX and land line connections to allow multiple devices to connect independently and simultaneously.

I'm confident that the telcoms, cable providers and other service providers could figure out how to wire everyone's house with 100 MB, but doubt anyone could afford to get it.


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