Broadband

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) challenge the electric grid

Electric utilities and electric car manufacturers are beginning to sit down and talk to each other. At the Austin Alt Car Expo, representatives from the two groups shared opportunities and concerns. One very big concern is how the electric grid will handle the additional power load represented by electric cars.

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Has BPL died?

An article from DSL Reports suggests that BPL (Broadband over Power Lines) has died. Many of us have been skeptics from the beginning, with concerns about cost, RF interference, and bandwidth. It would appear that all three were problems This particular technology should just be taken off the table as an option.

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Blandin Broadband conference and workshops in Minnesota

The Blandin Foundation is hosting their annual Broadband Conference - Connected Communities: Making the Net Work for Minnesota on December 3 - 4, 2008 in Eden Prairie.

This year the Blandin Foundation will also be hosting a Minnesota Intelligent Communities Award. The Blandin Foundation along with DEED will be partnering with the national Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) to recognize the top Intelligent Communities in Minnesota. Conference Highlights include:

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GigE broadband in Japan for $60/month

A firm in Japan is rolling out gigabit broadband services to residential customers for $60/month. Back in April, FCC Commissioner Deborah Tate gave a talk and noted that the 100 megabit fiber connections in Japan were already showing signs of "congestion." The GigE service ought to improve throughput.

Meanwhile, we still have lots of people in the U.S. talking about DSL (at around 1 megabit) as "broadband."

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Broadband saves money

We finally dumped our last analog phone line, which we had kept around in case we needed to send a fax. We decided to get rid of it because we've been using an efax service. We replaced it with an additional VoIP phone line, and our monthly charges for that phone went from an average of $100/month to $35/month.

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St. Paul, Minnesota looks at fiber to the home

The City of St. Paul is taking a serious look at fiber to the home as part of a community broadband effort for the city. A local group has started a Web site that has a lot of good information on it.

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U.S. Broadband: Almost as good as Nigeria?

Nigeria is using a high performance network for the national post office (1,500 locations) to jumpstart community broadband connectivity. A new national backbone will be built, using the post office needs as an anchor tenant. But the high performance network will be designed to support other community broadband and service needs.

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5% of users consume 50% of Internet bandwidth

Slate has an article about a phenomenon that network administrators have known for many years: a handful of Internet users gobble up a huge portion of bandwidth. Five percent of users typically consume 50% of a service provider's total capacity.

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Internet growth continues to double every two years

New data for 2007 and 2008 shows that the Internet demand has continued to grow significantly year to year, with an aggregate growth rate of doubling every two years. Growth is "down" slightly from 2007 to 2008, meaning the rate has dropped from 61% to 53%, which is still a huge increase, and is consistent with the fifteen years of data we now have on Internet bandwidth demand.

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Power and broadband drive economic development

In a series of broadband planning meetings earlier this week, I heard about several companies that were seriously considering moving their operations to another city if the local electric power infrastructure was not improved. The firms said they were experiencing multiple outages per month that often lasted an hour or more.

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Broadband enables telemedicine

Widespread availability of affordable broadband should bring better access to health professionals, especially in rural areas, where some kinds of specialists are not available locally. Wired reports on the results of a new study that shows that just using relatively low cost Webcam technology for diagnosing stroke patients results in better outcomes.

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NATOA calls for local government action, fiber

The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) has called for a range of policy changes and investments that includes a guaranteed right for local governments to invest in broadband and fiber as the preferred mode of access.

Design Nine: Top 100 broadband firm in the U.S.

Design Nine has been named as one of the top 100 broadband firms in the United States by Broadband Properties magazine.

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Do dial up users want broadband?

The Pew folks have rolled out another hilarious study that suggests most dial up users don't want broadband.

I have observed this phenomenon for fifteen years now--much longer than the Pew folks. It is very simple, really. People that have never had a broadband connection are, in fact, likely to believe it is something that they don't want or need.

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Broadband coops catching on

We are beginning to see the broadband coop as one very viable form of governance for community broadband efforts. Coops are a great ownership and governance model because they firmly vest the enterprise in the community--every subscriber is also a shareholder in the enterprise, and shareholder/members are able to vote and select board members. The Ripton Broadband Coop serves rural customers in rural Vermont via wireless, using an open access, open service model. Two service providers are selling services on the network.

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FCC provides new definitions of broadband

The FCC has finally released new definitions of broadband.

Not enough fiber for wireless services

Sprint's new WiMax initiative with partner Clearwire is stalling because the high capacity wireless access points don't work very well when backhaul (the connection from the wireless radios/antennas is over old-fashioned copper phone lines.

Do the math....

Is Clearwire the mobile wireless solution?

Clearwire has announced plans to operate its proposed national WiMax network as an open access system, and major players like Sprint, Comcast, and Time Warner have apparently already agreed to become resellers on the network. It will be interesting to see how this turns out, as an enormous investment will be required to build the national infrastructure required to meet the promised goals. One of the backers of Clearwire is Sprint, which is losing cellular marketshare rapidly, and may regard Clearwire as its last chance to keep from being broken up and sold.

U.S. broadband: Almost as good as Malaysia?

Once again, fairly small countries are far ahead of the U.S. in thinking about broadband. Malaysia has announced an ambitious but entirely doable plan to take fiber to major areas of the country, with the Federal government paying about 30% of the cost in a deal with the biggest telecom company in Malaysia. In the U.S., it would be the equivalent of the states making deals to write checks directly to the incumbent providers (which some states already do).

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Why VPNs are important to communities

VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are fast becoming a major issue with respect to broadband. A VPN is a way for a remote user (e.g. from home, traveling) to be connected to the corporate or business network as if he or she was in the office. It gives the home-based worker or business traveler complete access to all the documents and services he or she would normally have sitting at their desk.

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