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NY Times Notices US Broadband Mediocre, Doesn't Explain Why
by Karl Bode 10:21AM Monday Dec 30 2013
Using the latest data from Ookla, the New York Times laments that the United States is "falling behind" in broadband. Traditionally the country's vast geography is used as an excuse, which is why the Times highlights how San Antonio, the nation's seventh largest city and home to 1.7 million people, pales in broadband connectivity when compared to the Latvian capital of Riga, population 700,000 where faster broadband can be had for a quarter the cost.

Amusingly (or sadly, perhaps) the NY Times two-page article fails to mention competition even once, nor does it mention how the nation's incumbents enjoy regulatory capture, effectively allowing them to write most modern telecom law. The paper does take the time to quote Richard Bennett, a think tanker paid by industry to defend its mediocrity (yet cited as an objective expert). Bennett argues we shouldn't worry about being utterly mediocre because, well, population density:
The disagreement comes over how far behind the United States really is in what many people consider as basic a utility as water and electricity — and how much it will affect the nation’s technological competitiveness over the next decade. “There aren’t any countries ahead of us that have a comparable population distribution,” said Richard Bennett, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, who said that the United States was closing the gap.
The reality remains that with a few exceptions, United States broadband is mediocre in so many areas because of limited competition, and nobody wants to fix this because too much money is being made by over-charging you, the consumer. That's a hard status quo to change when regulators across the political spectrum ignore competitive woes entirely, and the industry is still busy pretending we're the best in the world.

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Wakefield, MA
·Verizon FiOS

3 recommendations

reply to Packeteers

Re: NYTimes Ignores

Sir, you are not seeing the forest for the trees here.

Wireless is not the future. You can't beat physics. You are running into log jams now with mobile communications.

Let's assume we open up all this spectrum for wireless, how do you suppose we get these towers wired ? Microwave ? That only works so well, you need infrastructure to backhaul all this data you want to put on wireless.

Now Let's assume we solve the backhaul problem, with widget based division multiplexing over microwave. How many arrays of antennae do you plan on using ? Each tower can only have so many, and the towers are sickeningly congested now, lets add more directional antennae to solve that issue !

SO now each tower is packed with antennae and looks like metal cylinders. Does your neighbor want it in his yard ? Does sprint and verizon want to split it up for their use while ATT and TMO need to find a new tower ? Crap thats right they can't work together !

SO let's build 4 of these towers ! Ok so your neighbor don't want one and all the people in your city vote you can't have it. Sorry no next gen reception levels for you. It's ok we can solve this by paying off the city officials and fudging the vote !

Ok lets also assume that the density is our next problem. Population density, not the buildings yet. Your tower that looks like a steel pole about 9 foot round, nope wait 4 or more. Only covers a 4 mile radius with the current power levels. So lets see we are going to need to up the power to cover more population ! lets up the level so we can cover 8 miles! Unsafe but this is just for thoughts. Now we can cover 4x the number of people yay ! But remember the microwave backhaul is only so fast ! Let's get everyone on that 20 gig 8 G service ! Backhaul is now crushed. Moving on !

Every one in your city loves the new 8 G service based on the sim card ! We have managed to defy physics and create more microwave backhaul ! Free roasted chicken every time a bird flies through the beam, because at this point it is a beam. Now our new 20 gig service has limitations to prevent people from abusing it ! Awesome so we took 8 steps forward to actually take 10 back. We still can't do what we can on wire line , because of caps, because the spectrum they use even with more direction antennae can only talk to a small range.

Now we need to look at better gear allowing more network chatter to id the phone, the power to keep this all running, not to mention the muxer to be able to allow 100 K people to use 1 tower.

Look you can't beat physics, breakthroughs are made yes, but right now is not the time to say we go all wireless. We still need a wired backhaul. And distributing the load to wifi in home is the best method right now. That may change but not in the next 5 to 10 years. The wireless technologies they are showcasing that have high throughput are in the lab sims and are short range. Going wireless is nothing more then a money grab.

Now I left off so many other glaring issues. #1 right now is security, how good is gsm security ? Not very, clones are made a lot outside the us and its getting to be a problem inside as well. You want your ATM's talking wirelessly where some one with the know how can dupe the machine into connecting to the fake cell or worse yet clone the sim/radio imei and start collecting data ? Think about the security of ssl at this point, you do realize with FGPA and graphics adapters now a MITM attack is damn near possible.

You can not go all wireless at this point, you need to get off the rest of the worlds concept of what is cheaper is better, we should not be going to a walmart society to build our countries future infrastructure.

The future is fiber to the home, whether its pon or ring at this point is debatable, but it is fiber.

The problem is because no one has stepped up and said this is how we are going and this is how we are building out (Verizon did for a short period and stopped because investors balked) there is not a set path, there are vendors all over that claim to have the gear but won't manufacture it in large enough quantities to drop the price to a level where companies feel there is value. Let's be honest also the man power is the problem. There are people who will do this but not for the $3 an hour companies want to pay to have it done.

And it comes back to this, you can not beat physics yet.
"It's always funny until someone gets hurt......and then it's absolutely friggin' hysterical!"