Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Technology

68% of US Broadband Connections Aren't Broadband 611

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-measure-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The FCC has published a new 87-page report titled 'Internet Access Services: Status as of December 31, 2009 (PDF).' The report explains that 68 percent of connections in the US advertised as 'broadband' can't really be considered as such because they fall below the agency's most recent minimum requirement: 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream. In other words, more than two-thirds of broadband Internet connections in the US aren't really broadband; over 90 million people in the US are using a substandard broadband service. To make matters worse, 58 percent of connections don't even reach downstream speeds above 3Mbps. The definition of broadband is constantly changing, and it's becoming clear that the US is having a hard time keeping up."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

68% of US Broadband Connections Aren't Broadband

Comments Filter:
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:13AM (#34533310) Homepage

    To say the US is having a hard time keeping up would imply that it is difficult to do that for US companies. It's not. It simply goes against their desire to get money for nothing. They want to put nothing into their infrastructure and so nothing improves. This is in sharp contrast with other businesses in other parts of the world. The difference isn't the technology or the scale of deployment. It is the mindset of the people making decisions.

    For the love of GOD won't they please declare that internet service is a "utility" and regulate it as such?

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:21AM (#34533346) Homepage

    I don't need it. 1.5Mb is fast enough. I know others for whom even lower speeds suffice. Not everyone watches television over the Net.

  • by AntEater (16627) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:26AM (#34533368) Homepage

    To say the US is having a hard time keeping up would imply that it is difficult to do that for US companies. It's not. It simply goes against their desire to get money for nothing. They want to put nothing into their infrastructure and so nothing improves.

    Don't worry, the invisible hand of the marketplace will exert it's influence opening up more options for us. As soon as a competitor sees the opportunity to.... Oh, wait... Nevermind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:35AM (#34533418)

    California deregulated how much you could charge for wholesale electricity.
    While locking how much you could charge consumers.
    While banning any new power plants.
    Hmmm
    What could go wrong?

  • by martas (1439879) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:38AM (#34533442)
    Aha, words mean what people want them to mean. That may have been the origin of the term, but for the majority of people, that is not the primary meaning.
  • by glwtta (532858) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:38AM (#34533444) Homepage
    So, who says that everyone must have broadband? The article only points out that a good majority of the people who pay for broadband don't receive a service that can be justifiably called that.
  • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:39AM (#34533452)

    To me "Internet access" is an I.P. connection on the Internet, not a filtered and plugged natted off I.P. What good is "broad band" if you're not "really" on the Internet? This article didn't address that.

    This really annoys me.

    Back when we got our first broadband connection (a blazing-fast 768k DSL connection) it was a genuine connection to the Internet. I wasn't doing anything amazing with it... But I would periodically use RDP or VNC or whatever to connect into my home machine for something. I had occasion to fire up an FTP server at home once or twice as well. I even tinkered around with a web server at home briefly. All those ports were readily available for my use. I had to play some games with NAT since I had a couple computers sharing that one public address... And it wasn't a static address, so I had to constantly look up my IP or use a free dynamic DNS service... But I could at least use those ports.

    These days I cannot use those ports. I know for a fact that 3389 and 80 are blocked. And any time I run RDP on a different port it'll wind up blocked again after two or three connections.

    One of the things that initially made the Internet so awesome was that everyone was basically a peer. Anybody could host information... Share resources... Communicate... It was all kinds of decentralized and whatnot.

    These days there's a very clearly defined producer/consumer relationship. It isn't just a matter of bandwidth or anything... I simply cannot host a website on my home connection. I am barred from doing that.

  • by Calydor (739835) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:48AM (#34533532)
    Oh, so that's why all homes in California have 1GB fiber straight to the door, right?
  • by jps25 (1286898) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:49AM (#34533534)

    Aha, words mean what people want them to mean.

    No, they don't. Words mean what they mean. Ignorance doesn't change that.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:54AM (#34533564)
    California never deregulated the electricity market. They only deregulated the wholesale market for electricity, while maintaining a cap on how much you could charge the enduser, and requiring that the companies that delivered electricity to the enduser not produce any electricity. Those companies that before "deregulation" had both consumer electric divisions and electric generation plants were required to either sell their electric generation capabality or split it off into a separate, unrelated corporate entity. What happened was entirely predictable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:55AM (#34533572)

    Shh don't bring logic into this

  • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:56AM (#34533582)

    For the love of GOD won't they please declare that internet service is a "utility" and regulate it as such?

    Oh yea, you really want politicians to decide how internet access is provided and who subsidizes whom....

    It is certainly preferable to having the corporations make those decisions.

    The only reason rural America can send and receive mail at a reasonable cost (the same cost as everyone else, and the cheapest rates in the world) is that the USPS is a government regulated "utility". The only reason rural America got electrical power and a phone system was also due to government regulation and "interference" via the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) which was abolished in 1994 after completing its job of bringing those service to all Americans.

    A corporation is only interested in its bottom line (they are compelled to do this by law in fact) not the national interest. So raking in large fees for service that is far below international standards is perfectly fine for them. If you believe that the Internet is important and that new industries and productive activities can grow out of state-of-the-art high speed data access then the U.S. is at a competitive disadvantage. You cable company doesn't care about this but national politicians should.

  • by adosch (1397357) on Monday December 13, 2010 @08:58AM (#34533600)
    I'm happy with my 1.5Mbps cable broadband speed, but let's face it, it's a total price gouging tactic to squeeze more money out of the end-user consumer. If I wanted to even upgrade my cable service from 1.5Mbps to 2.5Mbps, it's an easy US $30/month dent for a measly 1Mbps extra bandwidth and for what? So I can download that , depending on size, handfuls of minutes faster than I could before? Even more so, I'll go on the high mark to say it also has a lot to do with what they know you're going to do with that bandwidth and they make you pay for it (a la against net-neutrality). Almost all wired broadband companies in my area are coupled with television access, so you can buy your internet package separately or as part of a bundled set. Why would they want to give you cheap bandwidth so you can drop their cable television service and use NetFlix/Hulu/Vudu/BD-Live, ect.?
  • by rjstanford (69735) on Monday December 13, 2010 @09:04AM (#34533650) Homepage Journal

    Ah, so you're one of those "there are people in California, and people in a couple of cities going down the eastern coastline, and nothing else counts" sorts, huh?

    His statement is pretty spot on -- there are some pretty wide swaths in this country where you've either got low population density or geographical problems making it difficult. Look at Appalachia as a whole, for example -- a good chunk of it is "difficult" geographically, and having a significant percentage of the populace nestled in mountain hollows doesn't help.

    Ah - you'll be happy to know then that we don't actually have a significant percentage of the US population nestled in mountain hollows. And in other good news, it turns out that the existence of Appalachian Mountain Dancers doesn't necessarily preclude the good people of Manhattan from having blazingly fast high speed internet access.

    For my next trick, I'll show how letting two gay men get married to each other shouldn't cause millions of straight people to get divorced.

  • by dkf (304284) <donal.k.fellows@manchester.ac.uk> on Monday December 13, 2010 @09:10AM (#34533680) Homepage

    Ah, so you're one of those "there are people in California, and people in a couple of cities going down the eastern coastline, and nothing else counts" sorts, huh?

    In population terms, yes. There's no excuse for urban populations having crap broadband, and there's lots of people in cities and towns in the US. If you're out in the boonies, it's going to impact on your speed (or costs) but that's true all over the world. But more to the point, just look at where the majority of people are, in urban and suburban areas. Is there any reason why it's impossible for such a large fraction of them to get broadband? (Well, yes there is, and it's got to do with lack of real competition between providers. Regulatory fail.)

    His statement is pretty spot on -- there are some pretty wide swaths in this country where you've either got low population density or geographical problems making it difficult. Look at Appalachia as a whole, for example -- a good chunk of it is "difficult" geographically, and having a significant percentage of the populace nestled in mountain hollows doesn't help.

    Because cables can't go down into mountain hollows... (Or did you think that the rest of the world does broadband always by wireless telecoms?)

  • by MadKeithV (102058) on Monday December 13, 2010 @09:27AM (#34533814)
    The main problem with the invisible hand of the free market is that no-one can see it's giving us the finger.
  • by SomeKDEUser (1243392) on Monday December 13, 2010 @09:55AM (#34534066)

    What do you think would happen if suddenly texts of laws meant what the general public thought they meant (mostly nothing at all) ?

    The opinion of an expert is always more valid than the opinion of the public. Obviously. Otherwise, instead of funding science labs, we should just organise polls on which theory is more likely.

    The origin of a word, its etymology, tells you what it means, even if you never heard the word before -- particularly if you know some Greek and Latin. And yes, meanings evolve. Being aware of that allows you to read and understand texts of centuries past. But clearly, you think knowing this is a bad thing, and that one should never encourage people to educate themselves. Because only the current meaning is relevant.

    Never mind that the current meaning is a marketing ploy.

    Never mind that terrible knowledge of their own language is probably the one thing that most keeps people from being effective citizens.

    Well, sorry, but it is useful and important to keep telling people what they said does not actually means what they think it does.

  • by Totenglocke (1291680) on Monday December 13, 2010 @10:08AM (#34534198)
    Your country is also around 1 square mile. It's not just population density, but also sheer size. I just looked up the size of Finland and the US - Finland is 3.44% the size of the US and your population is 1.73% of the size of the US. It would be an embarrassment if you COULDN'T fully cover a country that tiny. No, I'm not insulting your country, merely pointing out that you have no understanding of how big and spread out the US is, where you can drive for hundreds of miles at a time and see nothing - that plays a big role in it.
  • by Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) on Monday December 13, 2010 @10:11AM (#34534230)
    One could argue that labelling 256k "broadband" was a joke to begin with, and thus you never had broadband in the first place.
  • by Chowderbags (847952) on Monday December 13, 2010 @10:27AM (#34534374)
    So the real question is why American broadband was redefined to a low number like 4 Mbit/s? Shouldn't we be reaching higher? Oh wait, we'd see that maybe 1% of our population actually reaches 20 Mbit/s and might actually want to do something about it (like make the telecom companies actually build instead of sitting on fat local monopolies).
  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday December 13, 2010 @10:42AM (#34534558)

    Second the reason 68% of Americans don't have broadband is because the FCC REDEFINED it. It used to be 256k was called "broadband" and now they redefined it as 4000k so tons of people (including me) suddenly are considered non-broadband even though we purchased Broadband lines (like DSL or cable).

    It's basically 1984. Redefine the words and change the meaning. (shrug) :-)

    I know! My dell circa 1995 was "cutting edge!" Now just a of a decade-and-a-half later, it's been downgraded to "Wait, is that YOUR computer or your grandmother's?" status? It's just not right them changing the standards! Darn government interference!

  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Monday December 13, 2010 @10:50AM (#34534658) Homepage

    The FCC redefined it because the way our connections get used has changed. In 1990, there was no youtube, and 256k was a pretty damn decent connection. In 2010, when people want to stream Netflix in HD over the internet, 256k is about as useful as a dial-up modem. Queue it up on Monday so you can watch it on Friday!

    It's why I get sick of people trying to say a certain amount of bandwidth "is enough". It's "enough" for the technology we have today. It is NOT "enough" for the technology of tomorrow. If you build it, people will find a way to take advantage of it.

  • by IICV (652597) on Monday December 13, 2010 @10:57AM (#34534754)

    You have densely-packed cities, a small land area, and a fairly homogeneous, tech-savvy society that takes the mandates for the latest and greatest technologies regardless of whether they are practical there or feasible elsewhere.

    Which explains why major US cities and technology centers like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle and other such places have average Internet connection speeds equivalent to Japan's, right?

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday December 13, 2010 @11:02AM (#34534832)
    256K is not broadband, it's fraudband.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday December 13, 2010 @11:47AM (#34535426) Journal

    >>>One could argue that labelling 256k "broadband" was a joke to begin with

    Not really. At the time of that definition, most people had Narrowband modems of 14k or 28k. So 256k was considered damn fast. In fact it was twice as fast as the fastest tech available (IDSN) for home users.

  • by cbope (130292) on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:12PM (#34538174)

    1 square mile, are you fucking kidding me or what? More like 130,596 square miles and the 8th largest country by land mass in the EU with the sparsest population density. It is roughly half the size of the sate of Texas.

    What word in "population density" do you not understand? It makes no difference the total size of the land, the metric is population DENSITY. As in, the number of people per sq. mile, kilometer, inch, meter, etc.

    And don't tell me I don't know the size of the US, I'm American-born and raised, living abroad, and I've been to at least 40 US states and hundreds of cities and towns, not to mention over 20 countries around the world.

    I hate to say it, but if I compare both the broadband and mobile phone markets of the US to Finland (or Sweden, or Japan or South Korea, or...), you guys are still in the dark ages. Why you still accept it is beyond me.

    I've got karma to burn...

The sooner all the animals are extinct, the sooner we'll find their money. - Ed Bluestone

Working...