Life in the Slow Lane

July 29th, 2011 by Christian

(Or, Non-Broadband Broadband)

I’m on Marketplace Tech Report this morning talking about the slowest broadband Internet in the USA, which is located in Pocatello, Idaho according to a new study by Pando Networks.

Click here to listen to the story, or read it.

We all know that the Internet isn’t the same everywhere in the US, right?  That may not be the most riveting finding in the story.  Also we know that the rich are probably more likely to have faster Internet.  Nothing new there.

What *is* the most interesting thing about this story is the shift from describing broadband by presence/absence toward describing its qualities. We are finally starting to appreciate the idea that a high-latency connection, an unreliable connection, or a low-bandwidth connection might each be examples of non-broadband broadband, if you follow my meaning. Each of them rules out some class of important broadband applications.  For example:

  • Low-bandwidth: no video for you, and even some flashy Web sites won’t be pleasant
  • High-latency: forget your interactive gaming
  • Low-reliability: you won’t be using skype or Google talk for business
  • Transfer-capped: video looks like a bad idea, and watch those software updates!
  • Very asymmetric: no content production for you

I hope we’ll see more of this kind of careful analysis.  It’s the kind of thing that the national broadband map was supposed to tell us, before the mapping requirements were eviscerated by the carriers.

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