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Broadband *doesn't* need content!

07:28 PM ET (US)
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Will CoxPerson was signed in when posted
12:03 PM ET (US)
Think of how you use the computer at the office with the low latency network there.

Then think of what you don't do at home because of the high latency, low bandwidth, asynchronous, fragile network there.

There's a qualitative difference in the usage of the two networks; it's not merely quantitative. There are things that I just can not do at home because I don't have the time to wait.

I don't have time to wait for pop-up ads. I don't have time to wait for large graphics that provide nothing but glitz. I don't have time to wait for the modem to reconnect after spurious line noise causes the connection to drop. I don't have time to wait for the latest bugfix to download. I don't have time to wait for my photos to upload.
Cory DoctorowPerson was signed in when posted
11:50 AM ET (US)
How much file-sharing is legal? Lots of it. My file sharing cache includes ~100MB of me reading my short stories, as well as speeches by Lessig, Jello Biafra and others, not to mention indie music by friends that they want propagated.

But even absent file-sharing, you're mistaken about the value of 1.5Mb network access. I have a Mozilla bookmark group that I refresh a couple times an hour. It has about 100 sites in the group, all the sites I trawl for material for Boing Boing. At 1.5Mb, this is practical (doesn't even cause a stutter in the QuickTIme feed from CBC Radio One in Toronto that I usually have on in the background), as is running a fetchmail poll every 30 seconds, as is exchanging 10-20MB binaries by email with friends -- everything from the non-OCRed scan of the 1982 Valenti Betamax testimony to all the fiction I've ever written.
David BrakePerson was signed in when posted
11:40 AM ET (US)
1) You should provide a link to the summary page instead of directly to the PDF http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/toc.asp?Report=63

2) "Uber" broadband users like ourselves may value high upload speeds, but most of the stuff most BB users do (posting to online diaries or websites) don't require high upload speeds. Only file sharing does that, and how much of that is legal?

"Give us high upload speeds so we can trade MP3s and warez" isn't much of a rallying cry...

Still, it is interesting to note that people get plenty of value from broadband without lots of content. If it's video content you're plugging, I reckon current 512Kbps "broadband" isn't going to be attractive enough anyway.

http://davidbrake.org/ and http://blog.org/
jleaderPerson was signed in when posted
02:59 AM ET (US)
"Why spend millions marketing to people who don't understand your service when you're not even capable of servicing the pre-existing market that's begging you for the opportunity to spend, spend, spend?"

What, you want all those marketers, ad execs, flash scripters and TV commercial producers out on the streets? You think homeless panhandlers are bad, imagine having penniless telecom marketers shouting stupid slogans as you walked by, and you can't just change the channel.
Cory DoctorowPerson was signed in when posted
12:03 AM ET (US)
Your parents are a silly market for broadband vendors to go after right now. There are *millions* of potential customers who are crying out for broadband, people who will pay premiums for things like fixed IPs, symmetrical uploads speed, etc. They do their own tech-support (provided you don't foist unsupportable PPPo* software on them), they post tech-notes to the Web, they buy the damned modem if you give them half a chance. And then they go over to their clueless parents' houses and tell them about how goddamned great broadband is!

Why spend millions marketing to people who don't understand your service when you're not even capable of servicing the pre-existing market that's begging you for the opportunity to spend, spend, spend?
ChakaToddPerson was signed in when posted
11:33 PM ET (US)
At first thought I am inclined to agree. At least, content is not important to people like me. I wonder about the millions of people like my parents, who think the whole Internet is down when they can't get to the RoadRunner home page.
Cory DoctorowPerson was signed in when posted
10:27 PM ET (US)
I hear what you're saying, but look at it this way. The telcos and cablecos are wringing their hands about the rate of broadband adoption, Congress is ready to outlaw general-purpose computers to get more Hollywood movies online (google "cbdtpa") and in the meantime, people who actually want broadband aren't getting it because the phone companies have shit support, demand outrageous crap like PPPoE and PPPoA (which require even more of the support they don't have), and have rotten ToS. It's not pricing, it's not content, it's not speed: what is holding back broadband adoption right now among the single most likely market for the service is that it's outrageously, unneccesarily painful to get a DSL circuit lit up.

If we're going to talk policy-makers out of caving into the telcos' and Hollywood's demands, we need ammo like this, material that unequivocally states that broadband doesn't need "content," it needs to be geek-friendly so that geeks will evangelize it to their non-geek friends and family.
RevGregoryPerson was signed in when posted
10:22 PM ET (US)
Hell, I want broadband so that 212k PDF's don't take so damned long! Seriously, I remember the days when we used to drool over $1500 10 megabyte hard drives that could hold every program I could ever want. As capacity goes up, technology will fill it. Developers aren't rapidly creating tons of broadband specific content because MOST people just can't access it conveniently. I think I speak for most people who use the net heavily and develop when I state: "Dear communications companies. Broadband isn't in demand because of poor availability and poor customer service. Developers WANT to fill your pipes. We WANT to create content that pushes the boundaries. We'd love to stream movies and audio, create net only "public access" television and just generally recreate broadcast media completely. It will happen no matter what and you can either be part of it or spend your efforts in court trying to legislate against the next new technology that comes along and torpedos your lazy, stupid asses while you're busy ignoring the inevitable. If/when 75-80% of the net is linked via broadband pipes we'll have you screaming bloody murder trying to figure out where all that excess capacity went and how you lost control of where the real revenues are now being collected. We've done it before. We'll do it again. For now we can only develop content which is accessable by the majority of users and the majority are maxing at 56k on a good day. This is the fucking net you're talking about. If you build it, they will come..."
Thd Dynamic DrivelerPerson was signed in when posted
10:17 PM ET (US)
Corey, I can accept that bi-directional transfer rates and an open Internet are the most important things to broadband users at this point in time. However, I also believe that these preferences suffer due to a lack of serious broadband content. If you don't know what you can do with a 100Mbps connection, because no one is creating the apps/content for it, then content and true broadband will not be a priority for you. Similarly, app/content providers are not developing for broadband because the audience is not yet large enough to justify the cost of development. It's a Catch-22 type of situation.

The ILECS and CableCos are looking for ways to reduce costs and increase margins while stalling the rollout/development of 10Mbps+ connections. They have atremendous investment in their outdated copper infratructure and they need to depreciate it while staving off competition. This study will help them because it will allow them to say that they don't need to deliver 1.5Mbps or higher to the end user, they can just give everyone 200K in each direction and squeeze a lot more people into the same DSLAM. In this scenario everyone but the Ilecs and Cableco's will lose.
Edited 06-24-2002 10:17 PM

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