back to article FCC will vote to cut off 41 million broadband users this Thursday*

US internet tinkerer the FCC will likely vote tomorrow to change its definition of "broadband" connections from 4Mbps to 25Mbps – effectively moving 13 per cent of the American population outside the envelope of "fast" internet access. An internet connection slower than 25Mbps can't be touted as a broadband product, if the …

  1. Steven Roper

    Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

    When I was in tech college, the meaning of "broadband" I was given to understand meant that the data was transmitted over a broad band of frequencies or channels, as opposed to "narrowband" which meant the data was sent using a single carrier frequency or channel.

    But, just as the media have misappropriated the term "hacker" to mean "cyber-criminal", it seems the term "broadband" has now been misappropriated to simply mean, "internet access that is faster than yours!"

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

      I agree with you, but I don't think it's that they've forgotten, they just think the word is catchy.

      Vermin Media and BT in the UK have redefined 'fibre optic' to mean 'partly fibre optic but there's copper cable for the last bit to your house'

      Where 'last bit' can be up to 500m or in some cases even higher.

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

        >>Vermin Media and BT in the UK have redefined 'fibre optic' to mean 'partly fibre optic but there's copper cable for the last bit to your house'

        American Theft and Thoughtlessness (AT&T) does very much the same thing with their uVerse offering, its fiber to the SAI or whatever they call the cabinets for it (it would be an SAI for DSL and PSTN, so I'm assuming they use the same terminology). They market it as fiber optic but except in very limited circumstances your "last mile" is going to be copper.

        I well and truly hate that company, there is no reason whatsoever that a connection that requires no digging or replacement of their equipment should cost $500 even before the equipment deposits and that's exactly what they wanted to charge me. I have pretty good credit, not the best but I don't have a foreclosure and my revolving non-student debt's under $5k so the deposits wouldn't have been much, but attempting to extort 500 bucks out of me to make up for the lack of deposits I'd have to pay before even using the service is insane. I laughed at the salesman who was trying to sell me on it, because I thought he was joking. He wasn't.

        I wish FPL offered access to their fiber optic network for consumers, as they're one of the few public utilities that doesn't fuck up that often (at least they've never had their techs cause so much damage to the containment buildings at their two nuke plants that led to the closure of a reactor like Florida Power/Duke Energy did at Crystal River 3) and has fairly good customer service, but the Cable and telecom companies have successfully managed to swindle the state into not letting them sell directly to anyone but other large businesses.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

          You can get 10 gigabit ethernet to run on copper - and they're working on it for 100 gigabit...

          There's nothing superior about having fiber going into your home, versus to the curb. It gets less good when it is down the street or a few blocks over, but don't get all high and mighty on the idea that it must go into your house. There is absolutely no reason at all why that is a superior solution, unless we start needing 100 Gbps into our homes.

          1. RAMChYLD

            Re: Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

            But doesn't fiber has lower latency than copper? I've seen a large difference in Team Fortress 2 (hundreds of ms with 1Mbps DSL vs 7ms with 20Mbps fiber, to a server in the same country). Unless the latency delay was introduced on purpose by the DSL provider with the purpose of screwing the game up and slowing down the connection...

            And as any gamer can tell you, in first-person and RTS gaming, speed is second to latency.

            1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

              Re: Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

              But doesn't fiber has lower latency than copper?

              In terms of the time taken for a raw signal to travel, over the distances we are talking about there is little-or-no difference.

              However, DSL does a lot of work to handle error correction etc. which introduces a delay. This delay increases the worse the signal is. As FTTC will have the DSL equipment much closer to you, and the signal will be better, these delays are decreased. VDSL probably has a lower latency than ADSL, too.

              1. Preston Munchensonton

                Re: Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

                "In terms of the time taken for a raw signal to travel, over the distances we are talking about there is little-or-no difference."

                It's not just a matter of signals. It's also a matter of transceivers. Fiber transceivers offer lower latencies than copper, though this is magnified at high speeds (>1G) and less distinct at lower speeds (<100M).

                While distance does not make a statistically significant difference, the effects of EMI on those signals over copper certainly could. As you mention, xDSL technologies rely heavily on error correction.

            2. Steven Jones

              Re: Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

              Not necessarily. ADSL has higher natural latency, and it gets worse if interleaving is turned on. With VDSL the difference is insignificant unless interleaving is turned on (which is a time domain error correction system which adds latency).

              From where I am 20km wet of London I get 9ms ping time to the www.bbc.com. I think that FTTP might shave a millisecond or thereabouts as it would omit one physical "hop".

              The physics of it is that the speed of propagation of light down fibre (about 65% of the speed of light in vacuum) is not too far different from the speed of propagation of a signal down a transmission line (cat 5 cable is about 64%, and twisted pair phone cable much the same). The signal isn't actually carried by electrons whizzing back and forth from the source to the destination. It's essentially an electromagnetic signal which interacts with electrons in the conduction band of the copper. Or something rather like that.

              1. DougS Silver badge

                Re: Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

                Why would you use DSL if you have fiber to the curb? You'd run gigabit ethernet over that copper, of course. No latency issues there.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Seems they've forgotten what "broadband" actually means

        I'm FTTC - at 1.7M - since BT decided the cabinet 2 miles from my house was not a cabinet any more and my cabinet is next to the exchange now.

        But at least they got some public money for modifying a DB record!

  2. Mikel

    Muni broadband

    Also, suitable accommodations should be found for every cable executive above "junior vice president". Someplace cruel and inhumane, like the American Idol studio audience.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Muni broadband

      No, send them to Adak, AK for a permanent tour. The running gag there is: "Don't like the weather? Wait two minutes."

      1. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: Adak's bad, Shemya's worse

        >>No, send them to Adak, AK for a permanent tour

        Back when my Dad was in the Navy that was the threat they'd always use as a punishment detail for people (not the permanent part, but the Adak part) that the Navy wanted out but couldn't involuntarily chapter for whatever reason and refused to take an early "voluntary" separation. If you were there by your own volition, you have my utmost respect sir. In the Army we used Fort Irwin, WSMR/Fort Bliss and Fort Greely in mainland Alaska for the same kind of thing.

        The Navy base at Adak's closed nowadays so I'm assuming they use Ascension in the South Atlantic and Shemya relatively close to Adak in the Aleutians, and maybe even Diego Garcia (though its not anywhere near as harsh and oppressive a landscape) for the same purpose.

  3. lnLog

    horse and cart

    "In its submission to the FCC's comment period, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) said that people simply didn't need 25Mbp"

    Much like people didn't need to upgrade from horse and cart to the car.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: horse and cart

      "Much like people didn't need to upgrade from horse and cart to the car."

      If someone lacked access to petrol but had plenty of pasture, the horse would still be the practical option.

      1. G Mac

        Re: horse and cart

        Unless you expected to be somewhere in 120 miles away in say a few hours. Of course that was solved by something like the Pony Express (where is that business now anyway? For those without access to petrol?).

        Of course this is classic:

        "In its submission to the FCC's comment period, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) said that people simply didn't need 25Mbps, complaining about the "hypothetical use cases" that would explain why that speed would be useful and noting that they "dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user."

        Yes, but your members (Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner and RCN - latter of which I have) is advertising faster speeds than competitor (*limited time only) every damn @&!(ing night, so obviously speed is not important (insert sarcasm icon).

    2. RAMChYLD

      Re: horse and cart

      Don't need 25mbps? Sounds like someone has a slice of the pie in the CD/DVD/Blu-Ray manufacturing industry...

    3. Alister Silver badge

      Re: horse and cart

      "Nobody needs 25Mb/s connections".

      What the NCTA (and others who trot out this excuse) seem to forget is that maybe each individual user doesn't need 25Mb/s, but if you have an "average family household" (a couple kids, two parents) then you've probably nowadays got at least 8 and probably more devices vying for that bandwidth.

      When you figure in contention, and then think of a street full of the same sort of household, then even if the headline speed of the connection is 25Mb/s, most users will only see a tenth of that in real world speed.

      If you're only starting from a headline speed of 4Mb/s, then individual users are unlikely to have anything useable in real world speeds.

    4. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: horse and cart

      "Much like people didn't need to upgrade from horse and cart to the car."

      If the car had ridiculously low monthly bandwidth limits then there would be no point in upgrading...

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Meh

    It's all weasel words and marketing....

    Those cable companies not up the "standard" will just change their advertising to "high-speed internet*" Where the * will be explained in the fine print: "Compared to dial-up". This then lumps their stuff into the same category as the telcos selling DSL. Upgrade their speed? We'll start getting some advertising with the weasely "up to XXX speed" and we know what "up to" means. Meh............

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: It's all weasel words and marketing....

      Well, to be frank, many times the bottleneck is outside the ISP's control, meaning they really have no way to reliably guarantee a transmission rate unless it's coming from within their network. I'd love to have the FCC enforce guaranteed minimum speeds, but there's no practical way to enforce it.

  5. channel extended

    people don't need

    Remember when people will never need more than 640K?

    1. Ragequit

      Re: people don't need

      I remember running a BBS on a 2400 Baud Modem and watching someone logging in with a 300 Baud modem with the username "Speedy"... It's sad when you could sometimes type faster than the modem could transfer the terminal session. We've come a very long way speed wise.

    2. rcorrect

      Re: people don't need

      >Remember when people will never need more than 640K?

      Bill Gates never actually said that. http://archive.wired.com/politics/law/news/1997/01/1484

      1. channel extended
        Happy

        Re: people don't need

        I never claimed that he did. That line is a common miss conception, but it was an accurate attitude by MS in the early days.

        BTW: I used a 300 baud modem and read BBS info as it downloaded, no need for buffering!

        1. tjdennis2

          Re: people don't need

          Actually, the 640K statement and issue had nothing to do with Microsoft at all. It was someone from IBM that made the statement while they were designing the original IBM PC computer. They had to assign the video card memory to some addressable space within the 1MB that the 8088 CPU could reach and ultimately chose position 0xA0000. That left anything below available to the operating system which ended up being the 640KB barrier.

          Later, hardware creators came up with ways to put more memory above this address and Microsoft or others started giving us EMS memory, and then XMS which could go past the 1MB mark on the newer processors. The video memory stayed stuck there in the middle for a long time until the 386 chips came out and could remap everything around it.

          Ah, those days were fun...

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: people don't need

      I ran a system that phoned into a PAD and downloaded at 2400 baud over 1000 orders every morning in 40 minutes - all straight into the ERP system - with only me getting involved occasionally.

      Once we got some internet is was deemed useful to have everyone sent in their orders on word documents and by the time I left the company they had over 100 employees printing out the orders and double entrying them into the ERP - saved them £30 a month on the original system.

      I'd imagine by now they probably have an employee trying to input 4Gbyte videos of interpretive dance of the orders into the system.

      Maybe I'm cynical but the actual noise rate is increasing faster than bandwidth so we are really getting less useful data through. Though the law of the pass of least resistance would suggest I'm right.

  6. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      re: FCC changing broadband speeds

      > > 25Mbps up, 3Mbps down"

      > Wow that's quite the upload speed. Can't say I'd like that

      > download rate.

      Oops - silly typo. Fixed.

      C.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT et al not so bad after all?

    Every time I read one of these articles detailing how the US telcos are shafting their customers, I get this really weird feeling that the ISPs aren't so bad in Blighty after all. I think I'll have to give Sky's customer call centre a ring to reassure myself that our ISPs can be pretty crap as well...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: BT et al not so bad after all?

      "Every time I read one of these articles detailing how the US telcos are shafting their customers, I get this really weird feeling that the ISPs aren't so bad in Blighty after all."

      It's partly the leapfrog effect. You need to get as much ROI from the infrastructure as possible so by the time you get around to upgrading there's been at least two technological advances. So those who are in the "lead" now will be leapfrogged by the laggards.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, when you look at it this way I guess I'm pretty fortunate. I'm in the 16% of the final tier and soon to be 1.6% (with more than 2 providers offering 50+). Still don't consider the cable company much of a choice. Afaik they tend to over saturate their residential fiber nodes to the point where it's near impossible to get the rated speed even during off peak hours. Plus the bandwidth caps... I got sick of it all and got a business line in from the telco. Funny how I can actually saturate the connection up to the full rated speed. Love it.

  9. rcorrect

    I dunno

    Always I get the cheapest internet available from my cable/phone company and I've never had an issue with it. I believe last time I was looking at 2mbps. Sure YouTube can be slow but it hasn't been a show stopper.

  10. tempemeaty

    4Mbps to 25Mbps

    "4Mbps to 25Mbps"

    That means I'm already not getting Broadband. LOL.

    Of course the fact that Cox cable charges for 1mbs what other ISPs charge for 5-12mbs is an over priced joke on it's low end customers.

  11. cortland

    Good! Can I expect

    ... my provider to lower my bills?

    Heh. Silly me. But it's still lower than my 1984 Compu$erve $300/mo limit, 300 baud dialup with by the minute connection charges.

    And whenever I miss the ASCII Internet (I do, too) I remember that.

    1. Kaltern

      Re: Good! Can I expect

      PRESTEL for the win :D

  12. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This actually a good thing...

    Weird as it sounds, the only way to get a monopoly to make changes is to force them to do so.

    The have no competitive reason to do so unless they are forced to do it.

    Govt PUC: hey Comcast, you need to improve you broadband offering beyond 4Mb/s down.

    Comcast: why, we are already offering Broadband services...

    Govt PUC: Not anymore...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019