Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sometimes things go right...

To my resounding gratitude and amazement, my upgrade to faster satellite broadband was accomplished with only the now-standard "Son-of-a-Vista" difficulty. I was able to get online with the first helpline call to "Mark" in India (I'm guessing) and he rectified the issues that were not covered in the instructions because they don't have Vista versions out yet.

Vista never lets up, guys.

Anyhoo, I am now clocking about 1.4 Mbps vs. 700 kps previously (as clocked by That's download, by the way - I still am only about 200K up, but even that is noticeably faster. All in all, it's the best $20/mo. [ProPlus] I have spent in a while.

This may be the only answer for many of us in rural America. It looks like the telcos have found ways to avoid providing broadband to the last few percent of us. And frankly, I'm OK with that. We are so few, and our tradition of expecting urban folks to pay for services comparable to theirs is way past its sell date.
As population density drops outside of metropolitan areas, it's impossible for telecommunications companies or cable service providers to justify the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per mile it can cost to bring fiber to every rural community, let alone every home. The result: Today, just 17% of rural U.S. households subscribe to broadband service, according to the Government Accountability Office. And a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says the U.S. dropped from fourth in the world in broadband penetration in 2001 to 15th place in 2006. Communications infrastructure is widely seen as the biggest driver of economic growth, yet 21% of Americans — the nearly 60 million people who live in rural areas — are often underserved. [More]
While cheap access to broadband would arguably help many lower income rural residents, the number is so tiny and the odds of big returns so small, I think satellite or WiMax is enough alternative.

Sprint has bet their future on WiMax, so I will be keeping a close eye on developments there, along with my son Jack, who works in the industry.
Working together with Intel, Motorola and Samsung, Sprint Nextel will develop a nationwide network infrastructure as well as mobile WiMAX-enabled chipsets that will support advanced wireless broadband services for computing, portable multimedia, interactive and other consumer electronic devices. These efforts are intended to allow Sprint Nextel customers to experience a nationwide mobile data network that is designed to offer faster speeds, lower cost, and greater convenience and enhanced multimedia quality.

The Sprint Nextel 4G mobility network will use the company's extensive 2.5GHz spectrum holdings, which cover 85 percent of the households in the top 100 U.S. markets - the most of any wireless carrier in any single spectrum band. To access that network, Sprint Nextel will work with Intel, Motorola and Samsung to incorporate WiMAX technology for advanced wireless communications and help make chipsets widely available for new consumer electronics devices, connecting consumers to the Internet and to each other while providing them with the flexibility to do what they want or need to do regardless of time or place. [More]
I think we can all guess who is in the 15% not covered.

Broadband will be our own responsibility, and maybe a real badge of honor for small, independent rural tel-coops who have invested and whose customers are the fortunate winners to date.

It could also be we will look back and recognize that the international broadband competition was essentially lost because of our firm refusal to back one solution for all.

[Thanks, Aaron]

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