ethernet cableAt long last, government is saying “enough!” to the Internet service providers in this country.

We here at StarterTech have long been proponents of the concept that something has to change in the United States in regard to broadband high speed Internet.  Not only do we offer some of the lowest average speeds, we pay more for what littler we do receive that most anywhere else in the world.   Instead of increasing our speeds, companies such as Time Warner are instead putting bandwidth caps on how much you can use per month before paying overage fees.

Luckily it appears that a new savior has appeared on the horizon, and certainly not one we ever expected to see.

Municipal governments.

Steven Hodson over at The Inquisitr had a story today how municipalities in North Carolina are beginning to fight back against the likes of Time Warner cable and their exorbitant prices for lackluster broadband connectivity.  Tim Warner is charging $240 a month for 10 Mb/s service, recently increased to 15 Mb/s “because of the competitive environment,” bundled with their television service.  The Wilson, NC example Mr. Hodson sites involves their new broadband service which starts at 10 Mb/s, up and down mind you, and go as high as 100 Mb/s.  True, the 100 Mb/s will run you $300 a month, but considering some people are paying $240 for 15 Mb/s, I think that’s livable.

IndyWeek.com posted the following chart that makes it clear how Wilson is helping out their citizens:

chart-web

Of course, the reaction of Time Warner was to attempt to get a bill passed saying municipalities couldn’t do this, but it was defeated.

This is what I personally have been waiting for.  A war has to be started with these ISPs and their highway robbery prices they are charging us for Internet connectivity.  The fact that anyone is even still offering DSL is amazing to me, but the prices they are charging for something like AT&T “Xtreme” DSL is just sickening.

The “shot heard round the world” has been fired my friends, and the time has come for the people to rise up, go to their windows, and yell “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” (okay, okay, so this isn’t Network, but it fits!)  The time has come for everyone to write their congressmen and let them know exactly how you feel You can locate your Representative here, and your Senators here.

In these difficult economic times, the time has come for the people to finally rise up and not even necessairly cry out for higher speeds, but definitely we need to fight for more reasonable bills.  This is an issue that needs to be explored by Congress, and the sooner the better.

Categories: Internet, Opinion   
 

ethernet cableAfter what seems like years of consumers begging, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally agreed to review the United States national startegy for broadband access, but will it be enough?

While the rest of the world has been zooming past the United States in terms of the broadband speeds available to the their citizens, the United States has lacked any sort of national broadband initiative.  The government is now setting aside $7.2 billion to work on the National Broadband Plan (Adobe Reader link), but the initial parameters are a bit disheartening.

From now until February 17, 2010, the commission will be collecting data from various sources including the public about what parts of the country are underserviced by broadband access.  So we are already looking at over studying the needs of the country to death, but the other hurdle is that the FCC currently defines “broadband” as 768 Kbps, a speed so slow that you can barely even watch online video with it.

The median speed of broadband in the United States is currently below 5 Mbps, but according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), other countries are already light years ahead of us.  Japan averages 63 Mbps, South Korea runs at 49 Mbps and just this week Australia began work on bringing 100 Mbps to most of their residents with a minimum of 12 Mbps to the rest.  So while we “study” the problem, the rest of the world continues to excel past us, and we may end up aiming for speeds they were at years ago, setting ourselves even further behind.

According to the FCC’s own press release, these are the four initial goals of the study:

  • The most effective and efficient ways to ensure broadband access for all Americans
  • Strategies for achieving affordability and maximum utilization of broadband infrastructure and services
  • Evaluation of the status of broadband deployment, including the progress of related grant programs
  • How to use broadband to advance consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation, and economic growth, and other national purposes.

The problems already bother me.  Where is the statement of setting a national target speed?  What about setting a target price consumers can expect to spend instead of this all over the board pricing we currently suffer under?  Monthly bandwidth caps?  Net nuetrality?  For now this sounds an awful lot like “We’ll form a group to study the study that studied the other study…”, you get the picture.

At least they are doing something, but it certainly doesn’t sound very promising at this point, and especially not for the $7.2 billion they plan to spend on it.

Categories: Internet   
 

internet explorer 8 logoMicrosoft has released the final version of Internet Explorer 8 today.

Finally coming out of its Beta status, Internet Explorer 8, the purportedly most secure version of the browser yet, has made its official debut today.  While it has been available for some time in its Beta form, this is the “Gold” release of the Microsoft browser.

Some of the new features include:

  • Accelerators – Highlight text in a page, click on the Accelerator icon and choose from popular services such as maps, blogging, translating and more without ever leaving the page.
  • Web Slices – Choose frequently updated pages, such as an eBay auction, and get notifications when there has been an update to the page.
  • Suggested Sites – Get suggestions of other Web pages you might like that are similar to the one you are currently on.

There are many more new features, but that is a taste of what you can expect.

As with every release, Microsoft is claiming there is more security on this iteration of the browser, but only time will tell how it truly fares.  Internet Explorer has always been a popular target for hackers due to the proliferation of the browser, and there is no reason to believe this one will be any different.

If you’re feeling the urge, go download the new version and let us know what you think of it in the comments!

Categories: Internet, Web Browsing   
 

The InternetHave you heard of bandwidth caps on your Internet access? If not, you probably will at some point.

We’ve explained what bandwidth is before, but the short version is that it is the amount of data that you can transfer between computers.  While Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have usually offered you “unlimited” bandwidth (within reason), companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable are starting to to use bandwidth caps on your usage.

Essentially they are setting up rules that say you can use amounts of bandwidth such as 250 GBs a month.  That should be enough for most people, but with more and more of our computing and entertaining involving streaming information, will it continue to be?

Sure there are certain things you can mesaure how much bandwidth you are using, but do you know how much bandwidth youa re using when you work in a cloud computing environment?  How about when you’re playing your favorite game online?  Using Skype?  Streaming a movie?  You can see how your usage might start adding up quickly, and if you exceed your limits they can charge you more or they may suspend your account if you do it repeatedly.

Seeing as users in the United States already suffer from some of the highest prices in the world for Internet access, and enjoy some of the worst speeds, this just adds insult to injury.  With more and more services telling you how you can enjoy them thanks to the wonders of streaming Internet technology, just remember that each one you add will eat away that much more of your bandwidth cap.

Categories: Internet, Mobile Phones, What Is   
 

ethernet cableThe United States of America, the country that drove the invention of the Internet, ranks 15th in the world for Internet speeds.

This is not recent news, but it is relevant now as I came across information about Comcast getting ready to launch 50 Mbps high-speed Internet access in the Bay Area.  Sure this is exciting news, but the speed is going to be 50 Mbps download, and only 10 Mbps upload, and this will cost you a staggering $139.95 a month.  Considering we here at StarterTech are currently paying $63 a month for 8 Mbps down/ 500 Kbps up, it’s still better deal than what I pay, but still outragous compared to the rest of the world.

I first discovered this story over at BlogD today, where Luis, an American living in Tokyo, Japan, mentions he roughly pays between $40 and $50 a month for 100 Mbps fiber optic service.  While Duncan Riley of The Inquisitr mentioned that Melbourne, Australia is getting 100 Mbps service, he lamented that the price would probably run between $66 and $100 a month USD.  Considering what we pay in the United States for service that doesn’t come close to that speed, I would say he will still be getting a deal.

The state of Internet access in the USA is a disgrace, and it is getting to a point where it is going to start costing us jobs and possible business deals as countries and corporations are begging to route the Internet traffic around the USA.  While there are certainly a great amount of problems in this country at the moment, if we do not start coming up with some form of plan to bring higher speeds to a greater portion of the country, at a price people can afford, we may not even be a shadow in people’s rear view mirrors as the rest of the Internet speeds past us to superiority.

The time has come for us to start speaking out to our elected officials and tell them enough is enough, we need higher capacity broadband at affordable pricer sooner rather than later.

Categories: Internet, Opinion   
 
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