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Networking Communications The Internet

Major ISPs Seek To Lower Broadband Definition 426

denobug sends word that major internet service providers in the US are seeking to redefine the term 'Broadband' to mean a much lower speed than in other developed nations. In recent filings with the FCC, Comcast and AT&T both came out in support of a reduced minimum speed. 'AT&T said regulators should keep in mind that not all applications like voice over internet protocol (VoIP) or streaming video, that require faster speeds, are necessarily needed by unserved Americans.' On the other hand, Verizon argued to maintain the status quo, saying that 'It would be disruptive and introduce confusion if the commission were to now create a new and different definition.' A public interest group called Free Press also filed comments with the FCC, recommending that the bar should be set significantly higher, and evolve in a way that corresponds with technological improvements.
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Major ISPs Seek To Lower Broadband Definition

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  • by grahammm ( 9083 ) * <> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:11PM (#29287753)

    When will these people stop trying to change definitions. Broadband is a technology not a speed. All DSL is broadband, but ethernet and (most) cable is not even though they can offer higher speeds than ADSL.

  • Re:The status quo (Score:4, Informative)

    by rehtonAesoohC ( 954490 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:17PM (#29287867) Journal
    While the disclaimer may be in there for FIOS, I have found that every single time I go to download huge files (as in, 13 gigabytes apiece), I consistently get my full 10mb down rate.

    When I was on cable, it varied drastically depending on the time of day I was downloading. I have never had more consistent service speeds than I have on FIOS.
  • Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

    by raddan ( 519638 ) * on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:21PM (#29287917)
    :start rant

    We've already done a great job at butchering the term anyway. Most usage doesn't correspond with reality.
    • "bandwidth" is a function of the physical characteristcs of the medium. I.e., with wires, the impedance goes up as the wire gets longer. This changes the wire's ability to transmit high frequencies (it "attenuates" the signal). Even dictionaries get this wrong.
    • "baud" or "symbol rate" is a function of bandwidth and your modulation scheme.
    • "bitrate" is a function of the symbol rate, and also depends on things like your packet structures and encoding schemes (actually, it depends on a LOT of things).
    • "speed" is not a technical term in this context, but most "technical" people equate it with "bitrate". For most other people, "speed" means "how long do I have to wait?"

    :end rant

    (if you can't complain about this kind of stuff on a website billing itself as "news for nerds", where can you complain?)

    But it just goes to show that carriers feel no need to compete. Most of us have no ability to choose the products we want from them, and with Uncle Sam's help, they can keep us from seeing how lame they really are.

  • Re:The status quo (Score:2, Informative)

    by ZsoL ( 902409 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:29PM (#29288073)
    In fact (and I can only speak for EU), we get to choose between data-rates and monthly fees. We definitely do have internet plans like in the US, only the average throughput is much higher.
  • Re:The status quo (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:30PM (#29288081)

    > In the EU, Japan, even Australia, end users have 5G, 10G, 25G plans et al.

    I can't comment on the others, but the connection I had in Japan a couple years ago had no cap. Didn't see any other capped plans either when I was shopping around.

  • News in comparison (Score:5, Informative)

    by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:33PM (#29288129)
    In Hungary, T-online has announced today that they're rolling out 80mbit FTTH to 180-200k subscribers by the end of the year. (This is a country of 10M).

    They've also changed the minimum package from 2 to 5mbit, bumped up the non-fibre/vdsl package to 15mbit and drastically increased the minimum guaranteed bandwidth to 1mbit for the 5mbit connection and to 5mbit for the 15mbit connection.

    Personally, I pay 50 EUR / mo for IPTV and 33mbit VDSL. I do not consider anything below 8mbit "broadband" these days.
  • Re:How small is it? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:35PM (#29288155)

    The term's already been redefined. Breadth - despite popular misconception - has little or no direct bearing on network speed.

    You're confused. The term comes from the mathematical and engineering field called "Information Theory". The key result is called the "Nyquist-Shannon Sampling Theorem", which relates the amount of information a certain amount of spectrum (band width) can carry.

    Guess what: 2.4GHz signals can only carry so much information. DSL signals are band limited (that is, there is an upper bound on the frequencies at which DSL modems operate). So are cable modems.

    Your link explains this much, so I am not sure why you're confused.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:2, Informative)

    by poopdeville ( 841677 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:54PM (#29288463)

    (...assuming you can quantify the dynamic range and the associated bit depth of the signal)

  • Re:The status quo (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:24PM (#29288929)

    It still depends on whether the people saturate the backhaul or not. Your signaling rate to the backhaul cloud is 10Mbit (in my case 20...) but past that if there's a LOT of people doing huge transfers you could be impacted- or if the backbone's congested, etc.

    There's no guarantees past the signaling rate- and most people wouldn't get that and cause all sorts of support woes, etc. so they don't guarantee much of anything. Even with the DSL, this would be the case.

    People think they are entitled to a guarantee of speed. If you want that, you'll need to step up to business service (which has some guarantees) or a T1/T3 link (which has slightly more...).

  • Re:The status quo (Score:4, Informative)

    by elbobo ( 28495 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @02:25PM (#29288945)

    I'm living in Tokyo at the moment, and my (rather cheap) apartment comes with broadband (fibre) bundled as part of the rent. I just did a speed test and I'm getting 52mbit down, 10mbit up. Absolutely no monthly limits.

    Pretty much every apartment I looked at when picking this place had broadband (often fibre) bundled in to the rent cost, and all would be unlimited data.

  • Re:The status quo (Score:3, Informative)

    by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @03:11PM (#29289667) Homepage

    I pay approximately 17 USD a month for an unlimited 10/10 Mbit/s up/downstream (upgrade to 100/10 for 33 USD a month) [in Sweden]. As an answer to grandparent, yes I regularly reach topspeed but I guess it would be harder if you have a high bandwidth connection.

    Meanwhile I have a smokin' 720Kbps down/320Kbps up "broadband" DSL line for something like $70 USD per month (including static IP). And the ISP's here Stateside want to redefine broadband to even lower data rates. U.S. ISP's consistently sets low standards and then fail to meet even them.

  • Re:The status quo (Score:4, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @04:06PM (#29290483) Journal

    >>>I have a max of 10MB on my line, and my neighbor has a max of 5MB, do we assume that the average speed is 7.5MB, even though the ISP might only have 12MB total

    No. A lot of studies do exactly what you suggest - work with the *advertized* speeds. But the place where I got my stats,, uses ACTUAL speeds from a wide range of tests all around the world

    >>>how many speeds are there in Arizona to add up?

    I have no idea for that specific state, but worldwide the site says "over twenty million tests taken every month", so that would be about 1/2 billion connections tested over the last two years. The top continents are:

    Europe 6.4 Mbit/s
    N.America 6.1
    Australia 4.8
    Asia 4.3
    S.America 2
    Africa 1.1

    Contrary to what is often said, the North American continent is not "falling behind". In fact the updated U.S. stats now read 6.8 Mbit/s and therefore higher than Europe.

  • Re:How small is it? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:07PM (#29293513)

    2.4GHz signals can only carry so much information.

    Says who? Seriously read up on what makes something broadband vs. what isn't. Hint: it has nothing to do with the frequency you are on...

    I'll explain: The big advantage with using bandwidth around 13cm (where wifi devices live) is there is way more of it where as the lower in frequency you go there is far less. Example - the *entire* HF spectrum (30 mhz to 2 mhz) is only 28 MHz, where is the 13cm band alone is more than 150 MHz wide. Its the same reason they moved all the TV stations in the USA to UHF. They were gobbling up precious bandwidth (7 MHz per channel!) in a place there really wasn't much to begin with.

    Some people on here sit around and act like Comcast/AT&T etc are doing the best they can, but I have to laugh as when I was living in Scotland of all places I could purchase 30 megabits (cable internet) for about the same as my crappy 768k Verizon connection costs and it came with tv and phone. I was playing WoW on US servers with lower ping too than my Verizon connection.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!