steve on Sun, 14 May 2000 07:50:26 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> 13 Things to Know About Broadband

[Taken from:  N O W  E U R O P E  D I G E S T]

// -- FOREWORD -- //

Wireless is a hot topic in Europe, and that's been reflected in
our recent discussions at nowEurope. But surely there are other
things happening, too.

For example, here in Budapest, a cable company called UPC is busy
tearing up the streets all over town, installing cables that
promise to deliver us Internet access at speeds of up to 2Mbs.

UPC and its competitors are doing this all over Europe.

The arrival of affordable broadband Internet access is expected
to broaden the user base in countries like Hungary, and make
possible many new kinds of interactive, graphical services. Some
say this will complete change the economics of the Internet

Like 'wireless' and 'e-commerce', 'broadband' is one of those
magic words that is supposed to make investors open up their

Earlier this week, Gerry McGovern offered this critical look at
broadband in his 'New Thinking' email newsletter. I liked it so
much I decided to present it to nowEurope as fodder for

Are any of you making bets in broadband?

Steven Carlson
nowEurope moderator

*** 13 Things to Know About Broadband
*** by Gerry McGovern

1. While fibre optic cable is being rolled out at a frantic pace
it is barely keeping up with overall bandwidth demand. "In the
next five years we don't see any ability of service providers in
the U.S. to keep up with the demand," Mouli Ramani, director of
strategic marketing for the optical Internet at Nortel Networks
told Inter@ctive Week in February 2000. "I don't see any chance
of getting into a glut anywhere in the network over the next five

2. The backbone of the Internet hasn't been designed to deal with
millions of people having broadband access

3. The flat-fee 'use as much bandwidth as you like' Internet
pricing model is unworkable in a broadband environment where one
user might want to use hundreds or thousands time more bandwidth
than their neighbour

4. The Internet works from a weakest link in the chain point of
view, so just because you have broadband access doesn't mean that
a particular website will download any faster

5. Because of Internet limitations, broadband suppliers are
increasingly choosing private high-capacity networks to deliver
their services to subscriber-based audiences

6. As yet, no broadband online entertainment companies have gone
public and many, such as Digital Entertainment Network, have shed
staff and re-focused their business models away from creating
original broadband content

7. Yahoo and Lycos have scaled back content and service plans for
broadband users, citing the basic fact that for every broadband
user there are 50 with basic access

8. Broadband access providers such as Pacific Bell, Midwestern
and @Home have been suffering severe email service slowdowns
recently, as broadband users send huge video and sound files as
email attachments

9. Because broadband generally establishes 24-hour-a-day
connections to the Internet, it creates a serious security
threat. "The home user is more susceptible to someone coming and
stealing the information that is on their computer," David
Remnitz, chief executive of IFsec LLC, a New York network
security firm told Nando Times in February 2000. "They could be
monitoring messages that are sent in or out of that system, which
could be things like bank routing numbers."

10. In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that because
traffic was overwhelming the broadband networks of cable
companies, the numbers of houses served by a single cable 'node'
were being reduced from 10,000, as originally projected, to 500
or fewer. Many cable companies were being forced to monitor
individual usage

11. The popularity of Napster and other such devices, which allow
people to easily swap music files, has slowed many university
campus networks to a crawl. Some universities estimated that
Napster downloads were using more than 50 percent of their
available bandwidth

12. Broadband is often supposed to allow the ugly duckling
Internet to grow up and become the television medium it's always
in its heart wanted to be. However, when @Home first rolled out
its broadband service in California three years ago, it found
that many of its subscribers were not interested in broadband
interactive entertainment, but were rather @Work setting up web
servers on their home computers

13. Broadband is definitely a wave of the future, but it has been
hugely over-hyped and faces significant obstacles before it
becomes a reality for the average user

Gerry McGovern

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