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Broadband isn't Broadband Unless its 2Mbps? 351

Posted by Zonk
from the time-for-a-bit-of-clarity dept.
quanticle writes "According to House Democrats, broadband isn't broadband unless its at least 2Mbps. The view of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications is that the FCC's data collection standards are hopelessly outdated, and is proposing a number of updates to their criteria. For one, they want 'broadband' reclassified to at least 2mbs, up from 200kbps. Another requirement will change the FCC's outlook on broadband availability. Just because one household in a zip code has broadband access, that will not longer mean everyone in the zip code does. 'The plan went over well with the consumer advocates who appeared before the subcommittee. Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America, said that the US is "stuck with a twentieth century Internet" and that he would support increasing the "broadband" definition to 2Mbps. Ben Scott of Free Press echoed that sentiment, suggesting that the definition needs to be an evolving standard that increases over time, which is in contrast to the current FCC definition; it has not changed in nine years. "We have always been limited by the FCC's inadequate and flawed data," he said.'"
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Broadband isn't Broadband Unless its 2Mbps?

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  • Forgive me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kelz (611260) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:25PM (#19180249)
    But its too correct (according to the summary, I didn't RTFA). Something else has to be behind this, given american politics.
    • Re:Forgive me (Score:4, Insightful)

      by faloi (738831) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:34PM (#19180419)
      It's getting close to an election year, more and more people are using the Internet. It only makes sense to push some feel good "chicken in every pot" sorts of initiatives. If I thought the federal government could and would really cut through the layers of red tape and regulations in place to actually get faster connections to everybody, I'd even almost rise to not being cynical about it.
      • Re:Forgive me (Score:5, Interesting)

        by EMeta (860558) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:39PM (#19180539)
        While I completely agree with your sentiment, it does grate on me a bit that 'close to an election year' is 6 months since the last election, and just 4 since the new congress came in. It feels like when they have Christmas displays up in September, except probably closer in analogy if they had them in April.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kadin2048 (468275) *
          Well, the way the states keep pushing the primaries up, give it a few years and you'll be able to vote in the general election while simultaneously voting in the primary for the next one.

          Save a lot of taxpayer money that way, actually.
      • Re:Forgive me (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yppupcinataS'> on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:41PM (#19180569) Journal
        It's nothing to do with that; it's just regulating what the cable/phone companies can claim actually IS broadband; as it stands they screw a lot of people who don't know any better by selling them "broadband" which is no such thing by modern standards.

        I think it's definitely a good step in the "truth in advertising" department...I'm tired of sneering at the commercials where the broadband companies are comparing their download speeds to 28.8 modems and other such crap.
        • by SQLGuru (980662)
          Reminds me of Fat-Free vs Reduced Fat vs No Trans Fat, etc.

          To misquote Shakespear:
          DSL Internet by any other name is still too slow to stream HD video.

          Layne
        • by azrider (918631) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:14PM (#19181149)

          It's nothing to do with that; it's just regulating what the cable/phone companies can claim actually IS broadband; as it stands they screw a lot of people who don't know any better by selling them "broadband" which is no such thing by modern standards. I think it's definitely a good step in the "truth in advertising" department...I'm tired of sneering at the commercials where the broadband companies are comparing their download speeds to 28.8 modems and other such crap.
          Just look at some of the offerings. One that I am familiar with advertises 3 different wireless services (768k MIR for $59, 1M MIR for $99, 3M MIR for $139). MIR stands for Maximum Information Rate as in "Up to 3Mb/sec". However, each of the services also specifies a CIR (Committed Information Rate) of 512k. This means that, until your rate drops below 512k/sec, you cannot complain that they are not adhering to their part of the contract.
          Remember that and always ask for both the CIR and MIR when talking to a sales person. If they will not specify a CIR (or don't know what it is), RUN, don't walk for the nearest exit.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

            Remember that and always ask for both the CIR and MIR when talking to a sales person. If they will not specify a CIR (or don't know what it is), RUN, don't walk for the nearest exit.
            Last I checked, all of the major wired broadband providers in the USA had a CIR of 0bps for their consumer-grade services. So, either you run away, get no connection at all and never exceed that CIR of 0bps or you pick the least worst and usually get significantly more than the CIR.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Most American politics is pretty cut and dry. That stuff rarely gets talked about by the media.
      • by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:54PM (#19180803) Homepage Journal
        Most American politics is pretty cut and dry. That stuff rarely gets talked about by the media.

        I'm just surprised that politicians are talking about the Internet not involving the legislation bingo buzzwords ["predator" || "myspace" || "molestor" || "terrorism" || "censorship" || "children" || "tubes" || "columbine" ]

        It's kind of like reading a Family Circus comic and having Billy talk about some sort of technology made after 1952. It just surprises you.

        • by Knara (9377)

          It's kind of like reading a Family Circus comic and having Billy talk about some sort of technology made after 1952. It just surprises you.
          While I appreciate the humor in this, my monitor did not appreciate having Mnt Dew spit all over it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      There are government programs funding internet buildouts in schools. I'd guess almost everyone is built out by now, or the the writing is on the wall that massive government spending won't be required. By changing the terminology, congress will force states to upgrade everything - thus causing more dollars to be spent (funnelled) to education. Elections are coming up, and the Democrats need to keep the NEA beast fed.

      Oddly enough, the code word I need to type in for this comment is campus. The universe m
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:37PM (#19181569)
      Cable is the best most people can get (yeah, there might be FIOS in a few cities, but I'm in #5 in the US and we sure don't have it; Utah also has UTOPIA, but I don't trust their lawmakers not to screw it up or censor it somehow). There, you get caps like 20 GB / month total transfer, which make it a complete waste, or worse, you go with Comcast and get unknown limits above which they accuse you of piracy and cut you off with no appeal.

      Or you can go with DSL. Good luck if you don't live right next to the CO. Damn phone company took an entire MONTH to find a working line for me. How the hell do you not notice that one of the lines you tagged was in use!? T1s are nice, but way out of my price range. $300-$400 a month is a bit much, even if I understand why they price them like that.

      Or you can get satellite. Not bad, but your uplink will be crap and your latency painful. Or, heh, you can go back to dial-up. That's great, if you don't use anything but email...

      Compare this to almost everywhere else in the first world, where they have local loop unbundling, the telcos are public utilities (rather than deregulated monopolies) and you see that we're *WAY* behind. Japan is awesome: 10 & 100 Mbps connections for less than you pay the cable companies. Other countries, too, have invested in infrastructure and are just plain leaving us behind. In the US? We gave the telcos billions to upgrade things, and just what have they done? Hardly anything, from the looks of it.

      So the story here is that the Democrats want to up the standards so that we in the US will have to stop kidding ourselves about the craptastic state of our internet infrastructure? GOOD! I'm sick of the telcos trying to kill things like Net Neutrality and using "deregulation" as a way to become legal monopolies and screw their customers over.

      I'm sick of hearing "We don't care, we're the phone company!" and I'll probably give my vote to someone who seems likely to make them eat those words.
      • "Central Office" (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PCM2 (4486)

        Or you can go with DSL. Good luck if you don't live right next to the CO.

        In San Francisco, at least, they seem to be doing something about this. Apparently the definition of what a "central office" is has changed. Apparently it no longer needs to be some kind of big building; instead it might be an innocuous-looking box at the end of the block. Somebody who's a telco insider will have to give more details than that, because I only know what I was told by one field tech. That, and the fact that about ei

  • hooray (Score:5, Funny)

    by yakumo.unr (833476) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:26PM (#19180273) Homepage
    Fat tubes for all!
  • by athloi (1075845) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:26PM (#19180277) Homepage Journal
    Let's aim high. In the future, it is likely many individuals will run media servers, VPN in to home, download a ton of video and use services like VOIP that rely on quality bandwidth. Instead of going piecemeal into this future, let's design for the next fifty years, roll out the hardware, and enjoy a nice long depreciation curve. It will be cheaper in the long run...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zappepcs (820751)
      10Mbytes? Why stop there? Fiber will give you 30 easily. The infrastructure upgrade to handle all those 30Mbyte end user connections, but that can be done over years. It won't be long before wireless will be competing successfully with DSL and making dialup seem a bad value.
    • by odoketa (1040340) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:39PM (#19180535) Homepage
      And France has 20MB symmetric. The numbers are somewhat irrelevant when you start talking about orders of magnitude. The fact is that the US is behind in ways that are staggering, and it's hurting us economically. How many more small businesses would buy a server if they could actually get the pipe to host their own apps? How much more software/multimedia would be sold if it came in seconds, instead of hours.

      At least in France, many of the problems were solved by local loop unbundling. I imagine the same would work here.
      • At least in France, many of the problems were solved by local loop unbundling. I imagine the same would work here.

        We had local loop unbundling here in the U.S., but then the FCC took it away. Now if you want DSL, it's back to the local phone company -- except for the places where they still have outstanding contracts with independent ISPs (like Speakeasy, etc.), there's no choice.

        The FCC's rationale for reneging on the LLU decision was that consumers now had "choice" without it -- between the cable company,
        • Not the FCC's fault (Score:4, Interesting)

          by snowwrestler (896305) on Friday May 18, 2007 @05:34PM (#19185119)
          The FCC has fairly little independent power; it serves primarily to implement laws passed by Congress. In this case unbundling was part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act passed by Congress. The FCC implemented it and was promptly sued for it. In the U.S., the federal courts have ultimate jurisdiction to interpret legislation, so the FCC was bound by whatever the court ordered. Over the next 10 years it was ordered by the courts to reimplement and reimplement, as suit after suit was filed by the telcos. In 2006 it finally won court approval for its implementation of the unbundling rules, based on a law that was now 10 years old. So if you don't like the way it's done now, look to the courts (and the original, poorly-worded law).

          Also: the distinction between a "telecommunications service" and a "data service" is most definitely NOT pedantic. In fact it is the crucial heart of the entire fight over "net neutrality." The two terms are given different definitions and treatments in the 1996 Act--in particular, telecom services are held to common carrier status, while data services are not. Thus when the 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that cable modem is a "data service", it exempted it from common carrier status--essentially granting permission to violate net neutrality.

          Now the telcos want DSL classified the same way (it's currently considered a telecom service since it is delivered over phone lines), and they are lobbying extremely hard to get it. Plus, they are rolling out things like FiOS, which as a fiber optic line is considered a data service not a telecom service.

          In the U.S., the "net neutrality" we took for granted for years was a direct result of the fact that we accessed the Internet over phone lines, and thus it was a common carrier service according to federal law. Now, with cable and fiber access, this protection is largely gone, and a fight for net neutrality protection must be waged.
    • by eln (21727) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:41PM (#19180561) Homepage
      10 MB/s seems like overkill just to allow old people to send email.
  • T-1 (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gates82 (706573) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:28PM (#19180315)
    Great now my boss will want to pay even more for an internet connection at work. Our T-1 wont be broadband anymore. And before the T-1 = slow debate starts, I've suggested alternative implementations.

    --
    So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      I thought a T1 was a digital signal... isn't it already not broadband?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dgatwood (11270)

      A T1 is slow by broadband standards. Compared with Europe, I think 2Mbps is actually too slow. I'd set the limit at 5Mbps as a minimum, and probably 10. They chose 2Mbps to make us look bad compared to the rest of the world without looking as totally backwater as we are.

      Of course, if the government came back with stats that said the U.S. had 0.0000000001% broadband deployment, people might start suing their broadband providers for calling 768/128 "broadband" and then things would get ugly. On the othe

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LurkerXXX (667952)
        Get a grip. They can't sue their broadband providers for calling 768/128 broadband, because it is broadband according to the current FCC definition. I'm sure if the FCC redefines it, the providers will change their lingo.
  • by Wog (58146)
    My wife and I share a 1.5Mbps DSL connection with 256k up. I've never had to wish it were faster.
    • by LordVader717 (888547) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:32PM (#19180385)
      There's people who think 56kbps is enough. Those people use the internet for emails.
      • by sconeu (64226)
        So they're old Korean people?
      • I'm not sure 56k flies anymore. If your computer is connected to the Internet it needs current patches to keep it afloat. Sure, I know some older folks that pretty much do nothing but email, but every once in a while they venture out on the WWW. And then.... BAM!

        {Pop-Up} "Your computer has been infected! Buy Spyware Cleaner Deluxe 2.0 - now with more cleaning power!"

    • My wife and I share a 1.5Mbps DSL connection with 256k up. I've never had to wish it were faster.

      You and your wife are boring. I can saturate both directions on the T1 at work without any help.

      If you want to tell us to get off your lawn, just put up a sign.

      • by RingDev (879105) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:01PM (#19180935) Homepage Journal
        You and your wife are boring. I can saturate both directions on the T1 at work without any help.

        Your boss lets you look at porn at work?

        -Rick
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Your boss lets you look at porn at work?

          Some days, I can accomplish it just by running an apt-get upgrade :P At least, the downstream.

          But there's so many things to torrent! :D

          for the record, no, I'm not engaged in nonstop torrenting. And if I do torrent I usually use the cable modem interface via wifi (we use it for hotel customers.)

        • How do you saturate the upstream when watching porn?!

          At any rate, I can saturate a lot more than the upstream and downstream when my wife and I watch porn at work.

          Wait, that came out wrong...
    • >>My wife and I share a 1.5Mbps DSL connection with 256k up. I've never had to wish it were faster.

      I have the same setup, and I generally don't need anything faster. But occasionally I have big download, like the Lord of the Rings Online, and I definately wish for more bandwidth at those times.

      I do think, however, that more interesting applications will become available with the higher bandwidth. In particular, I would like to be able to download HD movies and play them on the big screen TV.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:29PM (#19180325) Homepage Journal
    If the downlink is required to be 2Mbps to count as "broadband", I think the uplink should be a minimum of 512Kbps. Far too many people are stuck on lines that have 128Kbps up and far too easily saturate the uplink and bog the whole connection down.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by grub (11606)

      Far too many people are stuck on lines that have 128Kbps up and far too easily saturate the uplink and bog the whole connection down.

      That's why it's handy to have a decent gateway which can prioritize TCP ACKs. If they get lost in the muddle your download speeds get hurt. It's covered here [openbsd.org]. (I link to the OpenBSD pages as that's what I use)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by aegzorz (1014757)
      They do the same thing here in Sweden, they say you'll get 24Mbit broadband (DSL) but the uplink is only 1Mbit. Most people only use the Internet for webbrowsing but more and more use it for VoIP, 1Mbit up is awfully slow when you use services like that.

      I currently have a 100/100Mbit Internet connection, but they're offering up to 1Gbit in other parts of my city. They won't really get 1Gbit but certainly somewhere around 400Mbit.

      For it to be called broadband I think the bandwidth should have to be sym
    • by asphaltjesus (978804) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:20PM (#19181253)
      You must be new here.

      Providing greater upload speed runs counter to absolutely everything the telcos, and media conglomerates want in their new media delivery system.

      Democratizing information and technology broadly works against both commercial and political interests. That's why uplink speed is BAD.
    • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@AUDENyahoo.com minus poet> on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:26PM (#19181377) Homepage
      I can do 1 Gbit/sec with my station wagon, but the latency kinda sucks.

      Also, the MTU (MINIMUM transfer unit) is 4 GB.

      Well, 780 MB if you only want to use CDs.
  • The US lags in speed, availability, and value, said Markey, compared to a country like Japan, where most residents can pay $30 a month for 50Mbps fiber connections to the Internet

    For years I've paid 35-70 dollars a month for internet speeds that rarely exceed 3Mbps. How long until the next generation of bandwidth is commonly available? And, I really don't agree with folks who say consumers don't need that bandwidth; people have been saying the same thing about nearly every computer performance benchmark for decades and proven wrong again and again. So, are there any large scale infrastructure projects in the works right now to provide great bandwidth in the States?

    • by Laebshade (643478) <laebshade@gmail.com> on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:40PM (#19180559)

      And, I really don't agree with folks who say consumers don't need that bandwidth


      I'm going to expand a little on that with a simple line: what about consumers who want that bandwidth? Why should we have to wait for anything to download? And by wait I mean longer than instantaneous.
    • by sconeu (64226)
      Lucky you. I'm 18000 feet from the CO and can only get 1.5Mbps (I think I'm currently provisioned at 768Kbps because 1.5M gives too many drops).

      PacHell used to have "Project Pronto". Of course, the SBC and AT&T mergers took care of that.
    • by Wyzard (110714)

      Well, there's Verizon's FiOS fiber service, which can give you 15Mbps down and 2Mbps up for $50/month. (You can also get 30/5, IIRC, but it costs significantly more.) It's not quite Japan's 50Mbps, but it's still pretty good.

      I suspect that the 50Mbps service in Japan is available mostly in cities, though, not in rural areas. Much of Japan's population is concentrated in a few cities -- according to statistics I heard from a Japanese tour guide last year, about 10% of the entire population lives in Toky

  • rename it (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bobtree (105901) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:33PM (#19180401)
    They're widely misusing the term "broadband" already (just like "modem" and many others), so why not simply define the class of service they want to standardize and give it a NEW NAME instead of abusing existing ones? My vote is for "Standardized Fast Ubernet." You can guess what else the acronym might stand for.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by swrider (854292)
      This has always been an indication of the ignorance of the people throwing that marketing-kidnapped term around. 'Broadband' has a specific meaning already, that has nothing to do with 'speed'. If they want to define classes of connection 'speed', why not add BPS designations to terms such as 'high-speed', 'mid-speed', 'low-speed', and 'so-frickin-slow-speed'?
    • My vote is for "Standardized Fast Ubernet." You can guess what else the acronym might stand for.

      SFUN? Good call, cos the internet SFUN!
    • by RingDev (879105) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:09PM (#19181055) Homepage Journal
      What kind of SCSI do you have?

      SCSI-1
      Fast SCSI
      Fast Wide SCSI
      Ultra SCSI(1.5)
      Ultra SCSI(3)
      Wide Ultra SCSI
      Wide Ultra SCSI(1.5)
      Wide Ultra SCSI(3)
      Ultra2 SCSI
      Wide Ultra2 SCSI
      Ultra3 SCSI or Ultra160 SCSI
      Ultra320 SCSI

      Nah. Just make the term "Broad Band" a standard that is reviewed every 2 years and be done with it. Otherwise, in 20 years we'll be connecting over the Super double wide ultra fast inter tubes of doom .

      -Rick
  • by Gates82 (706573) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:34PM (#19180413)
    I don't really like this redefinition. I thought broadband had to do with the way in which data is transferred; ie. the ability to send multiple frequencies or channels, where as baseband can only handle one. I guess my Network+ book is outdated, or soon will be.

    --
    So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister?

    • Well, I don't like the redefinition of

      1) "Begs the question..." - now used to mean "raises the question
      2) "Chemistry" - in terms of relationships
      3) Irregardless - wasn't even a word until the early 20th century, and it doesn't even make any sense given the double negative inherent in the word

      On the otherhand, language is a dynamic entity. Words and phrases will eventually mean what everyone else commonly understands them to mean.
    • by plover (150551) *
      I hate the mis-definition too. Broadband is a transmission technology, not a speed. The term itself seems to have been hijacked a while ago, probably by DSL marketing asshats originally lying about offering "Broadband speeds over your phone line!" Now everything faster than 56kbps (including EDGE and EV/DO wireless technologies which are in fact narrowband transmissions) claim to be "broadband."

      Some of the more amusing aspects about the legislation are that it leaves DSL out of the new definition (hope

  • Whoa! (Score:3, Funny)

    by creimer (824291) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:35PM (#19180445) Homepage
    I thought 56K was broadband when I upgraded from my 14.4K modem. Of course, that was back in 1998.
    • by Vancorps (746090)
      man that sucks, I was on 768k DSL in 97 in rural Vermont then. It was only $50/month too which I paid for with my part-time job landscaping hotels after school.
    • When I moved out of town in '2001, I inquired with the local phone cooperative about the availability of high speed internet. The cs rep exitiedly told me that - they did offer high speed. In fact, the'd just upgraded half of the modem pool to V.92 modems, and the rest of the modems would be upgraded in the next year. I was underwhelmed, to say the least.
    • I thought the same when I hacked my 300 baud modem to 1200 baud. Man, those BBSs were flying down the tubes!
  • by dascandy (869781) <dascandy@gmail.com> on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:36PM (#19180469)
    Broadband, as opposed to baseband, is technically defined as anything not at the base frequency of 0Hz. Baseband is at the base frequency and up, broadband is at a higher frequency and up.

    FCC can't even seem to get a technicality right.
    • Baseband IQ (Score:2, Informative)

      by dunc78 (583090)
      I have never heard these definitions to which you are referring. I have heard definitions similar to your baseband defintion, with the difference being that baseband signals are complex signals CENTERED at 0 Hz, not signals going from 0 to some other frequency. The terminology I have heard to refer to a signal going from 0 to F1 would be, a 200% bandwidth signal at a center frequency of F1/2. I have never heard anything remotely similar to your broadband definition. Broadband is a relative "bandwidth" t
  • broadband != speed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:38PM (#19180517)
    When I was in college back in the triassic period, broadband had nothing to do with transmission rates, but with the fact that multiple channels were transmitted through a single wire (like TV) over a more broad frequency band than single-channel narrowband transmission, regardless of speed. Every time I hear someone say "broadband" in reference to the speed of some sort of internet connection I sort of cringe inside.
    • by nharmon (97591)
      Thank you! I was hoping someone would explain that broadband had nothing to do with the speeds.

      I guess now all we can hope is that the FCC redefines baseband as being speeds of a gig or higher. :/

    • by PB_TPU_40 (135365)
      Actually you will be happy to know even now in the "digital age" E.E.s are taught the exact same thing. I too cringe. Cable internet can be referred to as broadband because thats how they are transmitting it, it has NOTHING to do with speed. But this is from people who have no idea of what exactly it is they're talking about. For instance there's the barrel shroud fiasco [youtube.com] or the wonderful Tubes incident [youtube.com] and the fact that the nations media has twisted the pronunciation of the prefix Giga to the point wher
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RexRhino (769423)
      It is kind of like "Organic" foods... Most commercial pesticides are organic in this sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_chemistry [wikipedia.org] ... But they are not "organic" in this sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food [wikipedia.org] ...

      What used to have something to do with carbon and hydrogen now means "yuppie approved".

      Once you insert a technical term into the public vernacular, it will take on a widely different meaning.
  • by grapeape (137008) <[moc.rr.ck] [ta] [7epopm]> on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:39PM (#19180523) Homepage
    One good thing could come out of this. Setting a definition for broadband will reduce misleading "broadband" offers from cable and dsl companies. Either they raise their data rates or they have to call it something else. Most will choose to increase bandwidth since having to admit they are slower would be an advertising nightmare.
  • Definitions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s31523 (926314) on Friday May 18, 2007 @12:41PM (#19180591)

    For one, they want 'broadband' reclassified to at least 2mbs

    The definition also needs to specify up/down speeds. I don't consider a satellite connection with 1.5Mbs down and 56K up (phoneline) a broadband connection.
    • by glindsey (73730)
      "Upstream?" Surely you jest! In this Brave New Internet the corporations and government are creating, you can't expect the users -- erm, I mean viewers -- will be allowed to post anything! You need just enough upstream bandwidth to put up text, photos, and the occasional very-low-resolution video. Can't have you competing with real content providers, now.
  • by JanneM (7445)
    We get 30Mbps as part of us using utilities - gas, water, heat and electricity is reported through a fiberoptic link and we get 30Mb/s (no servers or anything, but email addresses and basic webpage stuff) to the apartment as part of that. If we want to actually pay, we can easily get 100Mb/s with IP-phone (keep our landline number), streaming TV (Tivo over the net, more or less) and a bunch of cable channels served over IP.

    As my SO is running her business from home, however, for now we're staying with the n
  • 768k (Score:2, Informative)

    768K seems to be a nice low speed broadband. Large downloads are still doable, and youtube videos just take a few more seconds to buffer than on a faster connection. Podcasts are downloaded automatically in the background, so there is little reason for those to have to be super fast. This is just to serve as an example of working broadband internet under 2mb.
  • So, Congress wants the FCC to label "broadband" as anything faster than 2mbps? Isn't it convenient that most DSL packages are 1.5mbps down? Comcast would have shitfits if they tried to label broadband as 4, 8, or even 10 mbps down.

    But I do like the provision that change how a broadband "served" area are labeled. I'm just waiting for Verizon's FIOS to hit my area.
  • Well, I guess I don't have broadband at home. I'm currently using 1 MBit down with 125 KBit up. It's not the fastest, but I really don't want to spend $40 a month for internet, since I don't really download videos. I think this is plenty fast for most home users. But I guess that most home users don't need broadband then.
    • by praxis (19962)
      I'm with you on this one. I have 1.5 down and 768 up. It's DSL, so the latency is really good for what I do (browse the web, read email, play online games). Comcast calls me once a month to get their 6Mbps cable connection. The conversation goes like this:

      Me: So, how much does it cost?
      Them: $40 a month.
      Me: And then?
      Them: Um, well, $60 a month.
      Me: Right, well, you see, I'm paying $20 for my DSL, so unless you can match that, I'm not interested.
      Them: Yeah, but this is faster than your DSL!
      Me: Right, well,
  • by Perp Atuitie (919967) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:01PM (#19180921)
    Around here, AT&T and Comcast, among others, have been pushing cheap "broadband" that turns out to be in the 600kbps range. If the hapless FCC is forced to adopt realistic definitions, so much the better for consumers and for the communications industry in the long run. I have yet to find a downside explained in all the lazy cynical-posing comments.
  • when I have 100Mbps (OK, uplink limited to 10Mbps). But that's fiber to a switch in the basement of the apartment complex where I live and a TP outlet in my apartment.

    For xDSL users the upper limit is 24Mbps for the downlink here...

  • by OldeTimeGeek (725417) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:09PM (#19181041)
    Broadband is a signaling method - as long as the Congress is deciding what speed of Internet connectivity is appropriate, can they also legislate a more appropriate term?
  • by Etherwalk (681268) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:09PM (#19181051)
    It's all politics. You redefine "broadband" (in this case, the new definition in a way consumers will like, since they want more of it) so that you can say come election time that only x number of homes have broadband, and blame the lack of availability on the previous administration. (Or you can even say that the number of US homes with broadband went down, though that looks worse if you're called on the definition change.) You can fit a single statistic into a good sound byte, but politicians aren't good at fitting an explanation for why the statistic is ridiculous into a sound byte.

    This is similar to changing the poverty formula--or any other similar metric--in advance of an election.
  • by RealProgrammer (723725) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:14PM (#19181151) Homepage Journal

    Rather than siting down for a minute and actually, you know, thinking about something, or heaven forbid talking to someone who has thought about it, politicians and bureaucrats just up and make laws. It's sort of like Slashdot, except the rule is "legislate first, then maybe think" instead of "post frist ;-, think second".

    The most important difference between broadband and not broadband is Always On (or, as we Mediacom customers say, "Sometimes On"). The definition ought to be stated in terms of connect latency: how much difference is there between the time it takes to establish the first connection of a particular online session and the average connection time during a session? If the first is no different than the average, you have broadband.

    The next most important attribute is Quality of Service:

    • How often is the thing down (or, as we Mediacom customers say, "what time of day is it mostly useable")?
    • (more generally): What is the real expected speed?
    • Is my bandwidth shared with a horde of 9-year-olds playing the latest Britney video
    • (or their dads, playing certain other videos)?
    • Does it feel like dialup, since I'm not sure when I will need to reconnect?

    The top speed of that connection, and the uplink and downlink speed difference, is important, but less so. Caching, prefetch, and P2P techniques mean that as long as you have anything faster than 9600bps, if it's always on you will have essentially the same online experience as someone with a 2Mbps connection.

    Now, with regard to live video audio as a substitute for broadcast media, the faster the better. And 2Mbps is not enough, and is certainly not a magic threshhold, given the QoS concerns above.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:15PM (#19181171) Homepage

    What we need is an FTC rule that advertising any service quality or quantity with the words "up to" or substantially similar language is, by law, considered deceptive. Advertising should have to specify a guaranteed level of service. That would put cable and DSL on the same measurement scale, discourage underprovisioning, and make cellular data transfer rates in ads something you could rely on.

    There's precedent for this. At various times in the past, the FTC had to tighten up the definition of "horsepower" for cars and "watts" for audio gear. [angelfire.com]

    • Seriously, there does need to be regulation in this arena.

      I'm sure it may be a bit difficult to measure, but I'd say minimum guaranteed speed at 99.5% uptime, or 1st percentile speed without an uptime guarantee (i.e Obps for less than 99% uptime), should be the maximum allowable advertised speed for any internet connection.
  • CALEA Impact (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jaredmauch (633928) <jared@puck.nether.net> on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:21PM (#19181267) Homepage
    I wonder how this would impact CALEA requirements set by the FCC for 'broadband' providers, if it were redefined to 2Mb/s. It might mean stuff under that speed would no longer need to be LI (lawful-intercept) capable. This could have significant cost savings for ISPs for compliance...
    • by doon (23278)
      I was just thinking about this as well (as the majority of our DSL circuits are sub 2M). I have a feeling that they would probably just say that the LI requirements are still required as they are now, as they won't want to limit their ability.
  • FCC not the limit (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sparkle (131911)
    The demorats can spout all the nonsense they like. The Republicans can promise broadband for everyone. They are all full of it.

    Sad fact is, broadband by any definition is NOT available to vast areas of the good old USA! I am not talking about mountains and deserts either. I am talking about one of the fastest growing counties in the US, only one Central Office away from a metro area.

    The telcos take fees for "rural infrastructure" to the tune of millions and what do they do with it? Whiz it away screami
  • Come on, I hear people bragging about their high bandwidth... I have 1000 mbps at home, but in a lot of ways it is pretty pointless, because the best you can hope for in normal everyday useage is about 1.5 mbps. The fact is, the data speed into your home is limited by the backbone and the ability of servers to actually serve data that fast. There is no way that I am going to be downloading something from a high traffic public server a few thousand kilometers away at higher than 1.5 mbps. My home connection
  • by Refried Beans (70083) on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:36PM (#19181559) Homepage
    I just hate it when I find out the "Internet Service" I was paying for doesn't actually include everything the Internet can offer. If companies want to sell "Internet Service" they shouldn't be allowed to block servers. Call it "Web Service" or something that shows you can't do anything with your Internet connection.
  • 2Mbps upload (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Riskable (19437) <YouKnowWho@YouKnowWhat.com> on Friday May 18, 2007 @01:47PM (#19181707) Homepage Journal
    I hope their definition is symmetric. There's lots you can do with 2Mbps download but there's lots more you can do with 2Mbps upload. It would be more pertinent for congress to bring back local loop unbundling and to split up companies that sell both content and Internet access (i.e. cable companies and telephone companies now selling TV).
  • So What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday May 18, 2007 @03:53PM (#19183623)
    The FCC can call it anything they want. In the final analysis, they have no regulations mandating universal service for broadband, or anything else other than POTS. Its the local and state governments that hold utilities feet to the fire so to speak to require uniform service within areas they seek operating franchises. Broadband and CATV providers have been quite successful in obtaining exceptions to local regulations.


    Just because one household in a zip code has broadband access, that will not longer mean everyone in the zip code does.


    No! No! Wrong thinking! (Local) utilities regulations require uniform service within an area if the franchisee desires to serve any one. Allowing broadband providers to claim that they don't provide service to an area even when they have already gone in and cherry picked the lucrative neighborhoods plays right into their hands.


    The people just down the street from me (further from the CO, so distance isn't an excuse) have had DSL since it was originally offered by the local telco. When Verizon bought them out, they made decision to cease DSL expansion in our area (Heck, we can't even get proper POTS service anymore). They are able to to this because, unlike regulated utility service, serving one DSL customer in an area doesn't obligate them to provide service to anyone else. If it was subject to regulations, they would need to file tarrifs with the state utilities commission which establish standard fees for extending their service to anyone willing to pay. In my area, these fees are based on distance along the public right-of-way. Once any utility strings a line in front of your house, only a (standard) service drop charge can apply. They are obligated to maintain their facilities to meet added demand in areas served as a part of their operating costs. In other words, they can't say "Sorry, the cable is full and you'll have to pay for a bigger one".


    Please don't let Congress create any more loopholes. We need to treat broadband access just like any other critical infrastructure.

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