Do You Have High-Speed Internet?

For someone that is allergic to math and a bit sensitive to all things mechanical (I don't like getting my hands dirty, what can I say?), I surprise myself by how fascinated I am with the Internet and computer technology. I look at it in terms of advances in the evolution of mankind and all the psychology and sociology that goes along with it. It's the freedom of speech, the access to information and the connectivity of the entire world that sends my mind spinning off into its own sci-fi fantasy and adventure.

But, a news story came out this week that threatens my imaginative contemplations. It seems that Broadband growth is at a standstill. On one hand, it's a bit ironic that these kind of things are always doomed if a business monopoly reports little to no gains. Sure, the world population is growing, and the US is expected to have 100 million more people by 2039 (up from the 305 million of today) so it's somewhat logical to think ahead like that. But to me, if a business doesn't lose money, then it's doing good enough! Anyway, I digress...

Now, don't forget that I'm allergic to math and that what I'm doing is throwing out numbers here to make a point, not a mathematical equation that computes. Right now, there are 65 million households with high-speed Internet access - roughly 35 million with cable and 29 million with DSL. Of all the adult Internet users, 10% use dialup to access the Internet. The number missing in all this is the total number of Internet users, no matter how they connect.

What all this implies is that those that are not jumping on the high-speed bandwagon are holding up the show. Some people adamantly say they will never upgrade, others say there is no high-speed access where they live, and some say that high-speed is just too darned expensive. It's ridiculous where I live, as a case in point. There is electric, analog phone lines and city water out in the middle of nowhere, but no cable or DSL. My only choice for high-speed is an aircard on the EDGE network because 3G isn't available here ... yet, or so they say. It's a little more expensive than DSL, but less than cable - at 3 times the speed of dialup. No gift horse here.

Computer technology is the fastest ever adopted new technological advance in history. It took the telephone over 50 years to be widely adopted and TV almost 30 years. Color TV was available for over 5 years before my parents bought one, and you could use both rotary and touch tone phones on the same line for 20 years. In contrast, computers advanced to the point where they fit on a desk's top and increased in power and capacity every business quarter since they hit the shelves! Software pushed hardware, hardware pushed software until finally the Internet became widely available, though it took a few years for doing business online to be trusted and accepted. The push is a trickle now with advances, though there will be a computer that will come out of sleep mode to answer Internet phone calls coming out in the next month or so, but will work with an Ethernet connection because WiFi won't wake up. Yet.

Like I talked about in my last post, we're still adapting to the Internet, both as a society and as individuals. And I'd have to say it's been a pretty tough and rough time. The news of broadband access slowing is probably the first hint of the poor economy's effect on the technology sector. Well, for once, slowing down may be a good thing.

I know this is a lot of gobble-de-goop for all you non geeks, but thankfully, computers are like cars: You don't have to know how they work, they just do when you turn the key.

So much has changed with the rapid advances and adoption of computers and the Internet. It all happened so fast that not only have we barely scratched the surface of its potential, but we don't have a clue about the impact on you and I and everyone else! What will this all lead to?

I yearn for the day when we can walk into a room and say, "Computer, where's the dog?" and get an answer back. I want to step on a round light panel set in the floor and be transported to wherever I want to go. (Talk about an answer to the oil crap going on now! Oil, who needs it?) I want to walk up to a panel and have a face-to-face chat with my friend that lives states away. And I sure wouldn't mind an android like Data around...

What will it take to get from here to there?


  1. I use DSL, but sometimes it's not all that fast, but it beats being kicked off with dialup when your in the middle of something and I love the fast downloads.

    I have seen many things in my 55 years come to pass that people never thought possible. Nothing amazes me any more and nothing is impossible.

  2. Oh yes. Automatic transmissions, color TV, ball point pens, air conditioning, microwave ovens, touch-tone phones, LP albums, 8-track and cassette tapes, cable TV, satellite TV, desktop computers, cell phones, GPS ...

  3. A while back I heard Art Bell of Coast To Coast AM radio fame talk about the Internet connection capacity in the Philippines being several times the amount of even cable connections here. He also said that most of Europe has at least the same, and that it has to do with fiber optics, which is something that the government gave AT&T and some other outfits millions upon millions in tax credits to install here in the good ol' USA years ago. Needless to say, they didn't.

  4. I remember that, vaguely. There was supposed to be a big push to expand the two backbone lines across the country, plus the major offshoots of it. It was supposed to bring everyone up to T1 and T3 speeds. I thought that odd because speed is always determined by the weakest link, so to speak. Like, you'll never be faster than the analog phone line you're connected to can handle. And there are lots of 'weak links' in the system. Timothy Berners Lee and the W3C are usually the ones behind pushing big business into action; I'll have to see what's been going with them.

  5. It's not so much that the high-speed access "isn't available" in those places... it's that the expense to get the optical lines required to make it possible into those places is high - and the population is small enough that the isp/phone/cable/sat companies won't make a profit soon enough to suit them.

    A while back, a start-up company here went around polling residents in the outlying, non-high-speed access areas outside of town and convinced them to pool their money to pay for the lines themselves and sign on. Worked like a charm... until the BIG companies sucked all the business over, and the little guy folded.

    But, the time will come when the speeds do increase all over - eventually these companies will just stop offering the dial-up service altogether.

  6. And with it, traditional phone service. I may live out in the middle of nowhere, but my cell service strength is great. That's why I have an aircard for Internet access -- and no land-line phone.

    The whole point of the government sanctioned monopoly of AT&T was to be sure that everyone had a phone and that everyone could call everyone else that had a phone. Plus, it helped businesses along too. It's quite an extensive network, all those phone lines, and it's soon to go the way of the dinosaur.