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The Almighty Buck

Report: Broadband Too Expensive For Many 554

An anonymous submitter writes "This AP article, citing a study from the U.S. Commerce Department, reports that "Almost all U.S. families live in areas where a high-speed Internet connection is available, but many see no compelling reason to pay extra for it." The article mentions a survey that found that "more than 70 percent of dial-up users cited cost as the main reason they aren't upgrading to faster access."" It's much like digital cable - the cable networks ratch up the price channels? But broadband is a chicken - egg problem. You won't get people signing up until they see a reason, and you won't get compelling reasons until more people have signed up.
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Report: Broadband Too Expensive For Many

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  • Broadband cost (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by murcon ( 192204 )
    Digital cable made inroads around me when they started offering free installation and 3 months at a reduced rate. (Of course, after three months in our house where the only show that got serious attention was "Farscape", we determined that even that wasn't worth the full price, and we disconnected.) So maybe DSL and cable providers should look at making the first few months the same cost as dial-up, just to get people to try it.
    • Re:Broadband cost (Score:3, Informative)

      by scott1853 ( 194884 )
      I don't know about DSL, but Time Warner and Adelphia both offer cable modem service for the first 3 months at $20/month.
    • Re:Broadband cost (Score:4, Interesting)

      by scoove ( 71173 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:28AM (#4311306)
      We also signed up for digital cable when Cox began offering and promoting it. We have Cox phone and cable Internet, so digital seemed like a nice thing to upgrade to.

      That was until we saw the actual bill. Like the extra $8.00 phone line that actually cost $16.73 a month, digital cable came brought our combined bill to $205 per month (little things like unit rentals, taxes, fees, etc. add up). When we realized we never watched the dozen HBO channels (Sopranos looks the same on the basic HBO), only needed to see Groundhog Day once per day, digital PayPerView had the same annoying feature of starting the same movie at the same time across a half-dozen channels, we figured the only thing that was unique to digital cable was the music, and that wasn't worth an additional $100/month.

      So we dropped it too.

    • by DeadSea ( 69598 )
      I tried digital cable and it was far worse.
      1. The worst offender was the time that it takes to change channels. Digital takes almost half a second where my analog is almost instantaneous.
      2. The picture quality wasn't improved. In fact, I noticed significant mpeg like artifacts especially right after you changed the channel.
      3. The programming was almost the same. I never used any of the extra channels I got.
      4. I needed a cable box, but the analog plugs directly into my tv and tivo.
      With digital, channel surfing was nearly impossible because of the channel change lag, and that was my biggest reason for switching back to analog.
  • It isn't necessary for everyone to sign up for broadband before seeing a benefit from it. Rather, most users of broadband are just that, USERS. They aren't serving pages, they aren't running spam services, they are simply downloading and browsing pages. Adding more users doesn't do anything but increase demand on an already overloaded U.S. infrastructure, thus raising the cost of entry for the next guy.

    The problem with broadband isn't that there aren't enough users, nor that the cost is too high. It's that the speeds are too low and getting it hooked up is too much of a pain in the ass.
  • by ramdac ( 302865 )
    Lower the damned price. These companies have loads of money. Help the consumers out a little bit, sheez.

    I have DSL, and I'd pay whatever they ask for it, but not everyone can do that.
    • It's the price (Score:2, Insightful)

      The main reason is price.

      Let's see, the modern connected household needs to cough up:

      $30 a month for phone
      $30+ a month for cable or dish
      $30+ a month for a cellphone
      and $30 a month for DSL or cable internet ... expensive hobby, this "connected" stuff.

      I have hi-speed access at work, so I can do any big downloads there, and the 56k at home is just fine for email, browsing or modest downloads of under 5 MB.

      The price needs to drop before high-bandwidth is a no-brainer for the average person.
    • The telcos are actually losing money right now. If they had loads of money they wouldn't be laying off thousands of workers.
  • by cornicefire ( 610241 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:44AM (#4310927)
    The New York Times has a story claiming that Netflix [] ships almost as much information as the Internet does. (1500 terabytes versus 2000-4000 terabytes.) So who needs wired broadband?
  • Uh, we're geeks. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by saintlupus ( 227599 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:45AM (#4310929) Homepage
    This really isn't all that surprising - sure, I've got a home network with a cable modem and my own mail and DNS servers and such, but I'm a big geek who likes tinkering with this sort of shit, so broadband is useful to me.

    It's like people who have three or four cars in the driveway that they enjoy tinkering with as a hobby - my mom drives a Taurus to get groceries and go to work, and that's all she needs. Just like all she needs for internet access is a couple of five minute dialup connections every week to check her email.

    • I assume you're saying the you run your own DNS and mail for your home network and don't run them for the outside world, right?

      I wouldn't mind running my own mail server if my ISP would allow me to purchase a static IP and they didn't block incoming port 25/110 packets.
  • by sirinek ( 41507 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:46AM (#4310946) Homepage Journal
    The digital music channels are the *ONLY* and I do mean *ONLY* thing I use my cable TV for. So its worth it for me to get quality music choices and not have to listen to the shit on the radio.

    I also believe part of the reason that people arent springing the extra bucks on high speed access is the economy. 2nd place would be the fact that most of them havent experienced it first-hand to see really how bad modem dial-up is. Sure, many people might have fast web access in the office, but not everyone does.

    • Wow, you must have different music channels than we did. The DSS music channels I remember all followed the same pattern: choose some cateogry, like soft rock, or light jazz, or classical; and play only the bottom 10% of the music from that category. I didn't hear even one song I enjoyed over those channels.

      Interestingly enough, my cable provider (ComCast) doesn't even offer music channels on their digital cable. In fact the digital cable channels consist entirely of channels we never watched (Discovery Kids, Oxygen, etc...). Once we got a TiVO (which made the digital guide obsolete), we returned the digital cable box. Occasionally ComCast calls us trying to get us to switch to digital cable, but until they start carrying channels I actually give a damn about, I'm not going to switch.
      • We have MusicChoice, and while they do play some of the stuff found on microwave rotation on the radio stations, they do play a lot of smaller/more obscure artists in the mix as well.

        For example, I listen to the Alternative Rock channel most of the time, and while they will play endlessly-played bands like Linkin Park, Staind, and Nickelback, they will play stuff I'll never hear on the radio (at least here) like The Incredible Moses Leroy, Farrah, Luce, and Dub Pistols.

    • Er, so why are you paying so much for them?

      Get XM [] or Sirius [] radio - they're digital, they're commercial free or low commercial (depending on which one you choose), and they'er a lot less expensive than digital cable (at least on a monthly charge - the upfront equipment is another matter).

      It appears that Sirius is totally ignoring everything but the car audio market, but XM does have some home products. Of course, if you're willing to hack then nothing is impossible.

      Not sure that it's really a viable replacement, but it may be something you want to look into.
  • Of Course.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SquierStrat ( 42516 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:47AM (#4310952) Homepage
    It is much more expensive to get broadband in some places than others. I would be interested to see these results accoording to geographic location. Here in Atlanta, getting good DSL or cable modem service is not that fact it costs about the same as a second phone line and dial-up service. The problem here (IMHO...) is one of availability as most people I know simply can not get it. Overall, these results do not surprise me, especially when I hear how much my friends in other states pay for broadband, it seems pretty obscene next to what I pay.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A report with similar conclusions has been
    isssued from MIT's department of the bleeding
  • too expensive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tid242 ( 540756 )
    more than 70 percent of dial-up users cited cost as the main reason they aren't upgrading to faster access.

    many of these are the same people who are paying $25/month for AOL dial-up. Otherwise there is a large number of 'normal' people (from what i've see anyway) who use "the internet" solely for work purposes and their place of employment functions as their ISP and they therefore pay nothing monthly for the service, in which case the difference between $0.00 and $35 montly is a pretty big difference...

    just what i've seen :)


    • If you work for a place that functions as your ISP since your job requires internet access, then you should probably be able to afford $35/month.
    • "many of these are the same people who are paying $25/month for AOL dial-up. Otherwise there is a large number of 'normal' people (from what i've see anyway) who use "the internet" solely for work purposes..."

      AOL != Normal ?!? Perhaps you have not been paying attention to the latest AOL television ad campaign.

      Let me quote you a line (I am not making this up): "With AOL, you don't have to worry about anybody you meet online, they're just like you and me!"

      Yes, on AOL, they assure that everyone using the service is 100% normal []. (Follow the link to see some images of people you WON'T find on AOL. Don't worry, it's an at-the-office-safe link.)

  • by jvmatthe ( 116058 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:48AM (#4310960) Homepage
    Not enough quality digital entertainment, like movies and TV shows, are being offered over broadband connections to make them worth it to normal users.

    For example, when I've tried to find good movies to watch on my computer, most of the time the very newest movies that movie companies are making available are not worth the download. They usually look like someone sat in a theater with a video camera and taped it by hand, which I admit is capturing the experience of going to a real movie, but just isn't what I'm expecting when I can go down to the Blockbuster and get older movies on DVD that have sharper picture and much better sound. Some of the older movies I've found online are very clear, but then they look identical to what I can rent (or buy) at local stores, so the download seems kind of a waste of time. Not to mention that some parts of the movie files aren't always there, and I end up requesting "fills".

    And the advertisements that I see in the download area where I get the movies are usually not the kinds of things I'm interested in. I'm not really sure that they should be putting those kinds of adverts right beside, say, the latest Harry Potter film download. Barnyard stuff just isn't my cup of tea, if you get my drift.

    I don't know what kind of company this USENET outfit is, but the movie companies should ditch them ASAP and get a real online movie distribution system.
    • Not enough quality digital entertainment, like movies and TV shows, are being offered over broadband connections to make them worth it to normal users.

      No, it is price, plain and simple. In Japan, where broadband is typically under $20/month, it quickly became ubiquitious. And there is demand. High speed internet access is in high demand, but not at $40-50/month.

      I think the out will be wireless. Consider this plan. A large web provider provides 802.11b points of access all across San Francisco, and offers to sign up people for $20/month. Like someone who really needs to expand their broadband offerings (AOL or MSN, maybe). Shower the consumer with those stupid install CDs and free 802.11b cards. That quickly becomes an easy game for whoever will play.

      Because the real problem is that the phone company and cable company view themselves as monopolies, and want to make huge profits (per customer) from broadband. That will work until competition exists. And whereas landlines for high speed internet do not scale well, wireless does.
      • Re:The real problem (Score:2, Informative)

        by amlutias ( 24318 )
        I think the out will be wireless. Consider this plan. A large web provider provides 802.11b points of access all across San Francisco, and offers to sign up people for $20/month. Like someone who really needs to expand their broadband offerings (AOL or MSN, maybe). Shower the consumer with those stupid install CDs and free 802.11b cards. That quickly becomes an easy game for whoever will play.

        you clearly know absolutely nothing about 802.11. first, only 3 channels out of 11 (in the US) do not overlap, which means the others are essentially useless. Each user of the shared medium degrades the connections of the others. Any APs operating within range of each other on the same channel similarly degrade performance. Couple that with 2.4ghz's basically shitty penetration characteristics (for something like this, anyway), and it quickly becomes obvious that 802.11 would simply not do what you describe.

        Not only that, 802.11b cards are still around $60 retail, at the cheapest, and wouldn't work for reliable access anyway. You'd need some sort of reliable, outdoors friendly non-mobile CPE. Also note that apartment building owners are required in many states to allow you to install satellite tv antennae, but those protections do not usually include simple data transit devices.

        Wireless connections for high speed internet don't scale at all.
    • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:35AM (#4311385) Homepage Journal
      is that broadband Internet is a disruptive technology.

      Unfortunately we have current business trying to deploy broadband, and figure out how to make money from it in the context of their current business models. Hence Adelphia has this black cable coming into my house, and feeds me both TV and Internet over it. Now if I've already got TV/movies coming over that cable, and the TV/movie is seldom worth watching, why-oh-why do I want to turn my Internet into an alternative TV/movie distribution medium?

      The real value of broadband is going to be in things that don't happen over other means, or at least where broadband makes them happen markedly cheaper/better. Two things pop up immediately, network gaming and filesharing. For both of these, the Internet is a unique piece of plumbing, and broadband Internet gives true enablement.

      Of course, filesharing currently seems to be criminalized, but that's not necessarily true. That's largely because ??AA business models haven't adapted. In that respect, the IMHO ??AA business model (artificial scarcity) is the greatest impediment to widespread broadband. Coming up with another business model that works in this environment and allows artists/publishers to make a reasonable ROI is another issue, but it needs exploration. Unfortunately the current route being taken by the ??AA may well attempt to deny that exploration.

      There's another ramification, in that the ??AA business model and current (especially cable, which is highly tied into the MPAA) broadband service is not friendly toward peer-to-peer, which is really desirable for gaming. Sure, there are the big game servers, but it would also be highly desirable for a few kids to get together on their own. From a parental point of view direct connect between my kids and their friends is preferableover a big gameserver, too.

      Back in the early days of telecomputing, there were outfits like The Source, CompuServe, Genie, and the like. Those that survived realized that their users really wanted to get in touch with each other. Maybe they started out serving informaton, but either they wound up serving connectivity, or they died. Just about the entire industry seems to have forgotten that lesson, and is trying its hardest to turn the Internet from connectivity into information. *Their* information, for a price, preferably paid *every* time. Precisely the model that failed decades before.

      So until someone gets a clue, and figures out that broadband will enable new markets rather than old, and begins to explore those new markets, I don't see much change. Alternatively, by dropping the cost significantly, it's just better than dialup, which others have mentioned.
      • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:12AM (#4311703) Homepage
        Back in the early days of telecomputing, there were outfits like The Source, CompuServe, Genie, and the like. Those that survived realized that their users really wanted to get in touch with each other. Maybe they started out serving informaton, but either they wound up serving connectivity, or they died.

        Except for CompuServe the rest came fairly late in the "telecomputing" market; after home BBSes and small business BBSes were quite popular. Compuserve was succcsful in selling content; since they had high quality content that no one else had (often at rates as high as $75 / hr). They also managed to get quite a lot of commercial traffic both B2C and B2B (though they weren't call that then). MCI focused heavily on genuine communication between users and they failed early.

        Genie was essentially a cheap compuserve; they charged a flat fee per month rather than an hourly rate and had lower quality content but because of the high user base who wasn't worried about connect time they had good quality discussion boards. Its also important to point out Genie was not covering its real costs. Genie was using GE's mainframe -- dialup system during off hours (they charged something like $17 an hour if you used it during business hours); it would have been impossible to pay for that infastructure from genie revenue.

        The closest to a service that sold low quality content, by which I mean stuff that wasn't expensive to buy the rights too, with unlimited connect was Prodigy which was fairly succesful.

        And lets not forget that AOL didn't start off as an ISP. They built their market up during the last days of the BBSes.

        When the internet started offering lots of content cheaply all the services started becoming ISPs. Since they were all large corporations and the internet was very uncensored they all sort of wanted to get out of the business and didn't fight very hard

        Genie became pointless; though their online gaming division managed to do quite well for a few more years until sites dedicated to specific high end graphics games became popular

        Prodegy was able to survive for a while but IBM and Sears lost interest

        Compuserve is still around offering dialup -> corporate system connection more like MCI's market back in the 1980's.

        The small business BBSes have moved onto the internet (in terms of functionality not necc. ownership).

        So I don't think its quite accurate the model failed. What it showed was:

        a) A small group of customers will pay a lot of money for very high quality content they can't get anywhere else

        b) A large group of customers will pay a little bit of money for having lots of content even if not of particularly high quality in one place

        c) Most customers won't pay anything extra regardless though they will take advantage of free throw ins and might be convertable to either class (a) or (b) if you can get them hooked (the AOL model).

        I don't see how that's much different from the current internet.

        Sites like the wall street journal which have unique content at a lowish price are doing terrifically. Free discussion sites like Slashdot get tons of traffic but have trouble charging for it. Sites with high end content are able to charge a lot for it to a small group but don't have wide penetration (high quality porn sites, article archives).

  • wow, what's next a report that "water is wet!"

    broadband in the home IS and expensive luxury. I live in cheap cable modem land and get it for $40.00 with modem rental.. DSL here is $35.00+5.00 modem rental and is 1/2 the speed of cable. T1? $1500.00 +$1000.00 for the T1 line per month... as it has been for the past 10 years.

    Sattelite? HAHAHA! 3000ms latency destroys all advantages of broadband... It may have became better now, but it is still more expensive than DSL or cable.

    most people can only afford $9.95 a month internet.. Yes, these same poor that make up 75% of the population happily spend $3.00 to $6.00 a day on other luxurues like smoking but it still comes down to the same basic fact....

    Internet access is a Luxury. you can live without it. you can easily learn without it. and your life is OK without it.

    and until it passes from the realm of Luxury to somthing that is absolutely needed... it will retain the luxury level pricing... and broadband will always be much more expensive than regular access.

    • most people can only afford $9.95 a month internet.. Yes, these same poor that make up 75% of the population happily spend $3.00 to $6.00 a day on other luxurues like smoking but it still comes down to the same basic fact....

      What you mean is "internet access is only worth $9.95/mo to most people" which isn't the same thing at all. Because they evidently do have money to spend on other things, the only question is, what will cause the internet to be more valuable to these people? Work that out, and you've solved the problem.

      and until it passes from the realm of Luxury to somthing that is absolutely needed... it will retain the luxury level pricing...

      It doesn't work like that. Is good quality toilet paper a luxury or a necessity? Maybe it's a luxury, but people are happy to pay for it. Toast is a luxury if you've got bread, but people still happily buy toasters (one friend of mine even calls bread "raw toast"). What I'd saying is, things that aren't technically necessary for the maintenance of life still count as necessities to many people.

      At such time as broadband actually becomes useful, it will become widespread. At the moment it isn't because there isn't much practical use for it, i.e., insuffient compelling content.
  • Where I live, Comcast offers a premium service where it costs about $80 for twice the speed I currently have. The problem is they aren't look at it from my perspective. When I swwitched from dial-up to cable, I got roughly 5x better upload speed and 10x better download speed for twice what I was paying. Now that I am used to what I have, merely doubling it doesn't seem like such a big deal. Many people switched to cable/dsl because it was a no brainer. They were already paying $20 for an ISP plus $15-25 for an additional phone line. Many people actually saved money moving to cable. Why would I want premium service?
  • Broadband To Me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LordYUK ( 552359 )
    I've had a broadband connection (first DSL, then switched to cable) for about 2 years now. I would never go back. The ability to sit down at my computer and not have to worry about if someone is on the phone or if I'm going to get disconnected because it rings (or miss an important call or whatnot because I've got *70 on) coupled with the fact that checking email/light surfing (like finding movie times, bank balances, checking slashdot) takes relatively no time, as opposed to 5-10 minutes of dial in, get rejected, dial in again, load load load, log off, oops I forgot something, log back on. Also, its nice not to get disconnected out of games because your modem decided that you were online too long. =)
  • I know lots of people, living in large cities, who have multiple choices of broadband carriers. I also know lots of people who don't live in cities. Guess what our broadband choices are? ISDN and a T1, or satellite. That's it. We currently pay $150 per month for 128K ISDN for my boss's house (he, obviously, can afford that,) while we're paying $650 per month for a fractional T1 (768k) for work. Guess what: I've got dial-up beause it's the only choice I have that I can afford. Screw the fancy two-dollar analysis: I don't have broadband because it isn't available unless you happen to live in a large city! Stop making up stupid fantasies and address the real problem: people can't buy what isn't for sale!

    • Broadband will take off only if there is an investment in making it affordably available.

      The U.S. needs to seriously invest in communications networks. Take mobile phones. Finland, Denmark, Tawain and many, many other countries have invested in a communications infrastructure for GSM and GPRS so that you can communicate from anywhere with in the national boundaries. The U.S. hasn't and you can see the disadvantage. In many other countries the number of mobile phones is starting to out number the fixed lines. I see no reason for broad band to be any different.

      Providers have to get over the fact that the price has to come down and availablity has to increase. They're not going to make 40% profit margin from each and every customer, but the overall profit will be higher if they can reach every household.

    • If people aren't buying broadband where it IS currently available, what makes you think anyone but you would buy it in places where it's NOT currently available?

      It's not hard to see that the communications companies would be foolish to install $millions in infrastructure just for your $49.95 a month.
    • "I also know lots of people who don't live in cities. Guess what our broadband choices are? ISDN and a T1, or satellite. That's it."

      I don't live in a city and my choices are: 28.8 modem (too far for 56k) or satellite. And you still need a modem for upstream on the satellite and have to run the f~ng windows packet wrapping software.

      If decent broadband was actually available where I live in rural Canada, I would buy it. For this reason, I am actually looking into buying a house in the city. This is a university city so if I bought something near the campus, the rent would be nicely paid by student tenants.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:50AM (#4310983)
    I love these reports. Broadband is too expensive.... No market penetration.... Dial-up is just fine....yada, yada, yada.

    If the lackluster demand of broadband is a reality, then how the hell are people pirating music en masse? Does the RIAA expect people to believe that internet users are cheap people with hours of time to waste downloading music through a 56k modem connection?

    Clearly the RIAA is using the non-existent broadband threat to scare legislators into writing even more copyright laws.

    • Funny thing is that the RIAA killed broadband's "killer app", Napster. It would be interesting if one of these reports would graph broadband adoption vs. Napsters lifespan. I'm sure it would show a spike during Napsters heyday. They give it an offhand reference in the article. But IMHO it was the basis for most users' switch to broadband at the time.

      Note to Telecommunications industry: Your companies stocks are in the dumpster because the RIAA was more greedy about their profits and didn't give a shit whether telecommunications companies lived or died.
  • by Enry ( 630 )
    The amount I pay for "broadband" (cable modem) access is less than the amount I'd pay for 24x7 dialup account plus the cost of the extra phone line I'd need to use said line.
  • I don't see a chicken-and-egg problem at all, here. How do the benefits of broadband rely on others having broadband access? It's not like filesharing is the only use for a broadband connection.


    • faster-loading web sites
    • reliable video/audio streaming from diverse web-sites (news, radio, porn)
    • online gaming (broadband usually also gives you better ping times

    And, of course, filesharing networks already have loads of users with broadband connections (read students on university LANs), so it's not like the content is lacking there either.

  • How long has broadband been available for in the US? 2 years? 3 years? i think this figure of 70% is misleading. the remaining dialup users (in areas of broadband availability, of course) are those who dont need or want broadband. their use of the net is low enough that they can get away with a low-cost dialup just to check their email and surf the web once a day. they probably wouldnt want broadband if it was even just $5 more a month than dialup.

    in these 2-3 years, all the dialup users who had the need for broadband have moved over. there will always be a niche market for those who have minimal internet use, and dialup provides that service. i think what would be more interesting is to observe the rate of subscribers to dialup vs broadband over these last three years.

  • by lars_stefan_axelsson ( 236283 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:53AM (#4311007) Homepage

    It's funny how it's the little things that can mean a big difference. In this case not having unmetered local phone access (in general). Now, it's not that I enjoy having to pay for local phone calls, far from it, but it has driven the cost argument the other way. In my case it's significantly cheaper to pay $30/month for unmetered cable internet access, than staying with metered modem calls.

    If I were in the US I honestly couldn't say whether I'd have moved from dial up, with less of an economic incentive. It's not so much the bandwidth, as not feeling you're on the clock when you're on-line.

    It's really the same as with mobile phones. Since the US chose to keep the mobile phones within the existing number structure, i.e you cannot tell whether you're calling a mobile or a fixed line, and since customers expect unmetered local calls, then the subscriber had to pay for incoming calls, which lead to less willingness to give out your phone number, which lead to the uncommon situation of Europe getting a lead over the US in a matter of driving technology adaption.

    IMHO this is the one difference that has made GSM a success where US mobile solutions have lagged. It's still an open question whether that will stay true, or if by an ironic twist of fate, 3G will do us in, while late adoption in the US will position you guys better in the next 10-20 years.

  • channel surfing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:53AM (#4311010) Journal
    One thing I noticed is that with analog cable TV you can channel surf much faster. Typically you can skim over 2 or three channels in a second.

    But with digital it takes 2 or three second to skim over each channel, because the redraw of the funky channel ID overlay. If I am looking for a soccer game, or a cooking show, the funky menu systems are actually much slower.

    This is not an advantadge.

    Point being, that digital cable has not really sold itself to me. But my high speed line has.

    • Re:channel surfing (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zathrus ( 232140 )
      because the redraw of the funky channel ID overlay

      That has absolutely nothing to do with it. The channel ID overlay can be drawn in a single frame (1/30th second).

      The delay is because the digital signal requires additional decoding - and in order to see the picture at all you have to receive an I-frame which can take up to a full second if you just missed the last one (most systems do start displaying partial data, but that's why you see MPEG blocking artifacts until an I-frame is received).

      They also grab info like the show name, channel name, etc. from sideband data -- none of which is available on analog cable.

      If I am looking for a soccer game, or a cooking show, the funky menu systems are actually much slower

      Or you could learn how to actually use new technology -- like menus. Instead of channel surfing by pressing chan up/down, you bring up the menu and see what's on now, what's on soon, and even descriptions of the shows if available.

      This is an advantage.

      Yes, there are times I find myself going back to channel surfing in the traditional sense, but I quickly remember just how stupid and painful it is to do so. Pull up a channel guide, find the channel or show I want, and go to it.

      Of course, even more often I just hit the TiVo button and play something I've recorded in the past few months.
  • by SheepHead ( 610180 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:54AM (#4311012)
    "...more than 70 percent of dial-up users cited cost as the main reason they aren't upgrading to faster access."
    And yet in the 2nd paragraph they claim:
    "a need for more music, movies and games on the Internet in order to make broadband connections more popular."
    No - that's spin. I really think it's cost. I pay about $12 a month for dial-up access, and Comcast wants me to buy a cable broadband for $50+ a month, plus taxes, modem rental, etc. A telemarketer called offering a free month, and I asked her what the full, regular price was. $50, as always. I told her it was too expensive, and she agreed and said that most people she talks to say that. In fact, she didn't have broadband from her own company because it was too expensive.

    Don't be fooled, I think there is a huge demand for broadband (although for mostly underground reasons) - but every article I read about it tries to spin it towards supporting the RIAA/MPAA demands for DRM. They say "no one has broadband because they're waiting for OUR stuff," but in reality most people just aren't going to pay $50 a month for broadband. I don't think they're waiting for MPAA-blessed DRM (so they can pay EVEN MORE for pay-per-download schemes) - they're waiting for affordable broadband.

    I'd pay $20 a month for something above 56k but below Cable/DSL, but such a thing doesn't exist, so I'll just wait until broadband is affordable.


    • ISDN might be worthwhile, depending on setup costs. 3 years ago I got a free modem, installation was about $100, and monthly it's about $30 ($14 for line, $17 for service).
    • by scoove ( 71173 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @12:20PM (#4312228)
      I'd pay $20 a month for something above 56k but below Cable/DSL, but such a thing doesn't exist, so I'll just wait until broadband is affordable.

      A view from the other side of the table...

      My company provides broadband to a bunch of small towns in a part of "fly-over country." Our service is $29.95 a month, and an installation of $250 (includes equipment).

      Unfortunately, there is significant pressure to hike rates. Why? Customer support costs, mostly from crummy operating system software.

      One out of two installs needs substantial work due to Win95/Win98/WinME configurations with years of clutter, garbage and registry hell. Dialup optimization tools messing with MTUs, mess all over (I reinstall my Win2K annually - apparently not many other people do). Customers don't understand that system maintenance is not our problem but theirs. They're like a 5'6" tall, 500 pound human who expects to run a marathon on broadband.

      Then there's the monthly "I blew away my system config - help me fix it." Many calls require a great amount of support. Yet nobody wants to pay for support - "I'm paying you for service - I expect service, even if I mess up my computer." As if GM or Ford provided warrenties for stupidity, crashes, etc...

      Our Linux customers are a dream. They know how to take care of their system, and understand that config screwups, system maintenance, etc. are their issue.

      High prices for broadband unfortunately appear to be a Microsoft tax. Maybe we need to approach broadband the same way:

      Linux, *BSD, & Mac: $29.95/month unlimited (Mac users are slow to upgrade their OS though... half of them we run into have ancient versions.. 6.?)

      Windows95/ME: Upgrade (we already tell them that today)

      Win98/NT/2K/XP: add $20/month for StupidOS tax unless you sign the "Surf at your own risk" disclaimer.


  • But broadband is a chicken - egg problem. You won't get people signing up until they see a reason, and you won't get compelling reasons until more people have signed up.

    This is just false. I'm about as close to a hard-core Web addict as you can get, and I see no compelling reason to get broadband at home. I'd like to, no question -- the speed is a big deal when you like downloading files and music like I do. But I don't need it (I can get those at work if I really crave them) because Web surfing still isn't that high-speed.

    Most all Web pages except for the high-density Flash presentations and high-res photo galleries work fine over dial-up. E-mail, which is still far and away the #1 reason most people go online, might as well have been designed for dial-up users. I download files and software upgrades at home, but rarely enough that I can wait the half-hour to an hour needed for them.

    Why would I really need high-speed access at home? Online game playing, which no one in my family does. Photo or video sharing, but we don't own the cameras yet. Massive music downloading, which isn't that important to me anyways (and I'd rather not get my kids addicted to it, or I'd never get the keyboard back myself). Sure, those might be nice, but we either rarely need those goodies or not at all.

    The WWW and e-mail work fine over dial-up. That's all most people want or need. Half the time, it's all their two- or three-year-old computers can handle anyhow.

    There's no chicken-and-egg problem here. Broadband is like money: you always find a way to use up whatever you've got, but if you don't have it, you find you don't really need the things you'd spend it on anyway. Supply and demand is the issue -- there's just not enough demand in most households to justify tripling their monthly bill from $15-25 to $50-60 a month.
  • Only 10 percent of U.S. households subscribe to high-speed access, lower
    than the rate in Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong or Canada.

    You would think this line alone would get some action on this. But the
    entrenched powers would rather see broad band die on the vine RIAA/MPAA.
  • by ACK!! ( 10229 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:55AM (#4311021) Journal
    The problem is a bit more complex than the article suggests. Cost is a big problem for me since I just moved into a new house and do not want to double my monthly costs for ISP service.

    However, there is also the fact of limited choices. I have a choice between one DSL and one Cable service available in my area. Some people only have one Cable or one DSL or even no choices in their areas. The availibility and lack of choices between providers and therefore a lack of competition also comes into play and impacts prices directly.

    What if I hate my Cable provider but find they are the only ones with broadband in my area? Maybe there is no one company doing DSL in my area or that one company has a bad rep for customer service, etc...

    Even in the burbs of large metro areas the choices are not dizzyingly large but dismally small.

    ________________________________________________ _
  • I used to work for a small dial-up ISP. A couple customers were thinking about upgrading to a cable modem .. and asked me if I had one. I told them that I did, and they proceeded to ask me how much I was paying per month. When I told one customer, who was paying $12/mo for dial-up, that I was paying $55/mo for cable, he told me I was wasting money and hung up!

    I asked a couple other customers what they thought would be a reasonable price ... most of them said betwen $20-$25/mo. The bottom line is simple ... it is psychological! Most people don't want to pay more than $25/mo for any service! These are the people that have basic cable and AOL right now ... and AOL charges $20/mo ... so they see no reason to pay more.

    Like it is stated above, most of these people might consider paying more if they new just how much faster broadband is versus a dial-up (especially AOL), but I doubt they'd be willing to pay more than $35/mo.

    I think this problem is pretty simple .... the broadband companies are making a fortune right now and see no reason to increase their user base by lowering their prices. Most of them know that the majority of people that don't have broadband are only using the Internet for email and basic web surfing ... so lowering their prices will just make their service slower with the increased number of users and will not generate enough additional revenue to offset the lowered prices for the existing customers.

    Time Warner usually offers a 3 - 6 month trial offer for RoadRuner broadband in the Ohio area for 1/2 the normal price (about $25-$30/mo) in an effort to get people addicted to RoadRunner. THis is a great idea, except what most people do is disconnect after 6 months ... go back to AOL, or sign up for another 6 months of Road Runner at the "trial" price in a few months.

    Bottom line: Most people don't need boradband for what they do on the Internet .. and thus, can not justify the high costs! Not only does it hit the pocket book hard, but it is also a psycological thing as well.

    Maybe if the broadband compaines lowered their rates to $30/mo (only 2x dial-up instead of 3x to 4x) ... that might make a difference .... but then again, I'm not in the business of price gouging for bandwidth.

    I know my old boss was reselling 1/2 of a T-1 to over 400 dial up customers for $12/mo .... hmmmm ....

    $12 * 400 = $4,800 - $500 for 1/2 T-1 = $4,300 profit!

    (*hits self in head for not starting up own ISP 3 years ago when the opportunity was there*)

    Gotta wonder what Time Warner is making????
  • Profit maximizing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HMV ( 44906 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:57AM (#4311044)
    Broadband services are currently quite profitable for cable companies. Getting new customers at a lower price point would not necessarily be more profitable.

    Set the price too high and of course no one signs up. Lower it like we'd all prefer, and not only is the impact on revenue marginal, but you incur costs in support and infrastructure to deal with the additional traffic on the network. Set the price at a point where it's reasonable to many users who just have to have that pipe, a little too high for many more, and which makes decent use of the network without bogging you down in support costs, and you've found your profit maximizing point.

    That is a natural consequence of monopoly/oligopoly. So long as the last-mile connection is in relatively few hands and not subject to much competition, profit maximization will be the goal and not signing up new customers.
  • by flamingdog ( 16938 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @09:57AM (#4311046) Homepage
    Too expensive if you got the service you paid for? no.

    Not worth it most of the time? yes.

    I had AT&T @home for awhile, and I went back to my old dial-up after about a year of hassle. First came the bandwidth caps that were insanely low (16k upstream? that's almost as slow as my modem...). Then there was the gigantic amount of downtime. I probably only got 5 days of service a week. When it was up and working, I'd always lose service to huge chunks of the net at a time. After all that shoddy service, they still decide it was time for a price hike. I would have been fine with that if they'd have been doing a good job already.

    I'd rather stick with my reliable and slow dial-up then get screwed in the cornhole for the price and not be able to use the service 2 days a week.

    Hear that AT&T? I'll gladly pay 50 bucks a month for your service if you provide me with 7 day a week access, and institute reasonable bandwidth caps.
    • I have quite a few clients who were on the @Home system, and who elected to stay with AT&T Broadband after @Home went belly up. Since the switch was made, I certianly haven't had any of them complain about the service being WORSE than @Home, and quite a few are saying it seems markedly improved.

      Now, I don't know if this pertains to your area, and I will say that I use DSL so I don't have any first-hand experience with the new AT&T for long periods of time, but I'd say you might look to give them another try.
      • In my experience DSL is MORE of a hassle than HSD. DSL usually has two providers, one is your ISP and the other is the bandwith (Verizon, yuck). Anytime you have a problem, one is blaming the other. That really blows. Nothing ever gets fixed.

        DSL usually costs more for half the bandwith (768k/128k for nearly $75/mo, compared to about 3mbs/384k for $49.95/mo).

        Sure, you can pick a more "server tolerant" ISP but at that point who really cares? I want cheap bandwith right?
  • I live in a nice little city [] here in the Philadelphia suburbs. Looking up and down my block, it's not that different from any other middle- (or possibly lower-middle-) class neighborhood in America.

    However, DSL is apparently uneconomical for anyone to offer to this area. I'd pay for it; it sure beats having my computer dialed in from midnight to 5 am each night trying to keep current with Debian testing and unstable. Unfortunately, everywhere with a decent user agreement says that offering me DSL isn't possible at this time.
    And that's the real point - the user agreement. I will not surrender control of my computer to my upstream provider by installing their specialized, over-branded spyware. (Not that I could anyway, given that I don't run windows on the main machine) I will run whatever servers I feel like running for whatever legal purpose I choose. I will use encryption and VPN-foo to connect to systems at work.

    This is simply not an option with the only broadband game in town (Comcast). It's not the money that broadband providers want from me that holds me back - it's the control they want.
  • Business usage (Score:2, Informative)

    The difference is that a lot of people have broadband access from work, and dont want to go home to cruise the internet they spent all day searching. They may get access, but only to the point where they can get on and do what they want, be it find movie showtimes or check email. There is no compelling reason to have broadband at home if you have it at work. I was on 28.8 service until cable became the cheaper option. (last year)
  • dino and the egg (Score:2, Insightful)

    by howman ( 170527 )
    Here in Toronto I have had a high speed connection since the day it was avaliable in my area, and I still see no content worthy of justifying it save a few small sites. What does the avearge AOHell user need with broadband when the only things thy are going to be pointed to are movie trailers they can see on television, or music they can see and hear on Much Music (MTV)? Granted having PtoP gives somewhat of a reason to get a high speed connection, but for the most part what does the average user care if fully cross patform sites, like /. , load in a nano second or a millisecond? Until I can go to a news site and instantly have, or in a reasonable amout of time have, my text news along with a short video clip or annimated gif instead of the static picture presently given, I don't see too much need for the general public to switch.
    Not to mention the two major players here in Canada have now put limits on your 'free' DL. Anything above and beyond you pay for. So we are back to the dino and the egg. Content providers won't put up large file size pages because not enough people have Cable or DSL, and people won't shell out for anything above and beyond what is included with their base rate. Can you imagine having to pay extra to view /. more than 10 times a week because viewing it would put you over your monthly limit... I don't think so.
    It will be so much fun in a year or two to watch the big providers hop around now that they have shot themselves in the foot.
  • by Corvaith ( 538529 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:00AM (#4311075) Homepage
    I'd be willing to bet these same people pay for at least extended basic cable--I'm the only person I know who pays for cable and only gets pure basic, and that's because our reception is horrible at my house. Those same people may very well drive newish cars, buy new clothes with a fair frequency, and shell out $40 a month for a 4000 evening minutes that they don't actually use.

    Broadband isn't a priority for them. If it were a priority, people would find the money, just as I always have.

    Things will always be too expensive for those who don't have a need for them, until they're dirt-cheap. Until cable hits the price of AOL, most people will find it too expensive. And there will, after that, still be people who don't want to give up their handy-dandy AOL features.
    • by guacamolefoo ( 577448 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:13AM (#4311718) Homepage Journal
      I'd be willing to bet these same people pay for at least extended basic cable--I'm the only person I know who pays for cable and only gets pure basic, and that's because our reception is horrible at my house. Those same people may very well drive newish cars, buy new clothes with a fair frequency, and shell out $40 a month for a 4000 evening minutes that they don't actually use.

      The items you listed above each represent some sort of value that the consumer perceives. The cell phone may include free long-distance. The cable is a marked improvement in selection over what is available over the air. Cars are, well, cars. They are status symbols as well as functional things (my Accord has 183,000 iles -- I'm not after style points, but I understand some are so motivated).

      Broadband does not, for most people, represent a valuable thing to many people (though the cost of AOL + a dedicated line is not much cheaper where I live). I have a need to downloan ISO files, remotely administer servers, etc. Most people just check their mail and chat. Until ANSI gets grossly larger, narrowband will work fine. Even most web pages are ok -- it isn't really useful to present more than a certain amount of written information on a screen at one time. Pictures likewise are usable enough that I don't see great leaps forward as being more than marginally beneficial.

      Some great holy grail of interactive multimedia has always been made out to be the Holy Grail of various kinds of broadband, whether it be movies on demand or interactive TV or something. I think those are red herrings.

      Also, watching moving pictures and reading text simultaneously don't really work well together from a biological visual perspective. Try watching the action (talking heads) on CNBC and reading the ticker symbols scrolling at the bottom. It won't work -- we're just not wired that way.

      Unless you need to move big files or want to run servers, broadband to the home isn't really a big deal. There is no need.

      Technology proponents have to be careful sometimes. There's an enormous "build it and they will come" idea that is just plain wrong. You build it for the people who want it and who are willing to pay premium prices for it, and then you lower prices and add features until it becomes mass market. If the latter doesn't happen, you have a niche product.

      One problem is that broadband is a network, and it requires more users to me more useful. There's no way 25 million people today would pay $25.00 a month to connect to an internet of say, 1995.

      The only real use I see as being likely to drive broadband today (things will change in the future, as always) is connecting home offices to corporate networks. Businesses will pay for useful services and broadband is one of these for businesses. Companies can lower travel costs and increase productivity with remote employee offices. Telecommuting as a way of life is something I see more people doing, and the ability to do it with broadband vs. narrowband is exponentially better.

      In short, my critique of the article is that broadband is not too expensive, it is just that there is no use for it. Who is to say whether a 40-ton dumptruck is too expensive because it isn't being adopted by consumers? Broadband, while nifty and neat-o, simply is not competing effectively for increasingly precious discretionary spending dollars in consumer households.

      I am not the least bit surprised.

  • by Yohahn ( 8680 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:00AM (#4311077)
    One of the problems with having a high bandwith connection is the lack of sites with good enough connectivity to take advantage of it.

    I have wondered for a while now, if localized networks where the ISP provides hi-bandwidth content and advertising and easy automation with the local community, might be worthwhile.

    This would allow for 2 things. Hi-bandwidth providers with less cost (it costs alot to stream hi-bandwidth to the whole internet). Localized Intranets for regionalized content (how many times have you used google to find the site for a local business?).

    Perhaps this could provide part of the egg for the chicken and egg problem. A sort of "public access network".
  • I see all the sides of this....

    1. I agree for what you get in many cases the cost is too high. My parents are on that side, why have a 49.99 feed when all you do is light browsing. Far too expensive when you can do dial up to as low as 9.99.

    2. Depending on the access type in many cases costs are not comparitive. I got a call from verizon trying to sell me DSL on day(which actually isn't available in my nieghborhood thats that a different stroy). I let the guy do his speech, becuase I was in a non-stress mood, and I wanted to have some fun wiuth him. Anyway when he was done her had never mentioned speed. So I asked. His rrply was in the 192k range I seem to remember for 49.99/Month. I said I don't thinks so, he went back in speech mode...I stopped and asked him, which he though was better...1.5m or 192k for 49.99...first off he actually had to stop and think about it...which was funny...he said 1.5 eventually...I replyed well I get 1.5 for 49.99 from Charter cable why would I want 192k...

    3. From my side I think 49.99 isn't a bad price for the 1.5 Cable line I have....certianly cheaper than some other solutions...I have heve seen and I never have a bit of trouble with it.
  • by Boss, Pointy Haired ( 537010 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:03AM (#4311098)
    "Downloading Pr0n from USENET for Dummies."
  • by foo fighter ( 151863 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:05AM (#4311111) Homepage
    It's too bad the people who claim broadband is too expensive can't do math.

    It's easy to show it as a better value than dial up, especially if you factor in the time saved not having to wait for pages to transmit and display.

    The enabling of multimedia online is really just gravy.
    • Uh... I don't think you get it.

      My sister, for example, lives in an area where she can get high speed Internet access (which, honestly, surprises me given where she lives). She chooses not to though because it's just not worth it.

      She spends 10-14 hours per MONTH online. They don't have a separate phone line, and I suspect their ISP charges about $20/mo for access. Given that, I can't even argue that she should spend another $30/mo for high speed access - what's it going to save her? 5 to 10 minutes a month? Maybe as much as a half hour? It's too marginal.

      If they had high speed internet would her family use the net more? Maybe, but I doubt it. Two young kids, 3 and 5 years old, pretty much preclude a ton of free time. And she's decided that she doesn't want them surfing yet.

      When her kids get older and start needing the 'net for school use then I'm sure she'll get high speed access, but until then it is too expensive. Sure they could afford it, but why spend money you don't have to?
  • Just getting your e-mail and surfing web pages a little bit faster is not enough reason to pay the price of broadband, but Napster was. ISPs have the RIAA to blame for DSL not taking off. They should join the consumer boycott of the recording industry. []
  • I live in Reston Virginia, and my cable is managed by Comcast. Cablemodem users here pay ~60 USD (After taxes!) for service that also includes basic cable. Service is excellent, and transfer speeds really do live up to promises. For those of you in areas where the local cable company is screwing you, I suggest you have your community leaders look at dumping your current local monopoly provider in favor of the pricing model we have here.
  • Most people are devastatingly ignorant about what the net has to offer. Many believe that it is only for e-mail, instant messaging, spreading viruses, and viewing the occasional web page -- usually accessed from a "portal" site (like AOL, MSN, etc.). Most don't know how to download and install software. They don't recognize how much more useful the net is when web page loads take three seconds rather than a minute or more. The concept of voice over IP is something that has never even entered their heads. Getting ISO images of operating systems is about as likely for them as constructing a nuclear reactor is for the average family's dog or cat.

    Unfortunately, the best and brightest chance of popularizing broadband was Napster and that's now gone.
  • PPOE SUCKS...drop it.

    When working as a consultant from time to time I am asked by people what to get for internet access. My Reply is always the local Cable Modem service. For my customers...your service migh be bette in the price to vlaue ration equation. However as the guy they are gonna call to help them support it...ugh! Its not worth the time, cause your failures look like my failures.
  • I used to live in Loudoun County, Virginia, part of the northern Virginia sprawl around D.C. Loudoun is home to Dulles airport, thousands of "happy" WorldCom staffers, the second-fastest growing county in the U.S, and 15 miles from the little Internet nub that is Reston and Herndon. Cable and DSL were not available throughout the county.
  • It's much like digital cable - the cable networks ratch up the price channels?

    Ratch? Did I miss another slang term while I was asleep? Kids today with their silly words, loud music, baggy pants... Why, in my day, we had to settle for real words when we wanted to say something, and we had to use a big heavy book to get them. Now it's all about "kewl" and "leet" and y r u ne 2 oic ratch... In all my 24 years I've never seen such abuse of the written word. Damn kids are trying to ruin it for everyone.

    Anyway, just what is the typical price difference between digital cable and basic cable? Where I am, digital comes out to $3 or so more than basic plus a small package of basic channels they feel like charging a couple of dollars a month more for (like The History Channel is premium...).

    So what's really keeping people from getting digital cable? In my case, the problem was scheduling. I could schedule an appointment for any weekday between 8am and 5pm. Wow, those are the exact hours I spend at work. Now that's convenience. I only upgraded to digital cable because I was going to be around during an available time slot anyway. Otherwise, I would still have analog, even if digital were cheaper.

    Now, broadband is a bit expensive, with cable in my area inching closer and closer to DSL. I'm able to afford it without difficulty (having no life helps keep costs down), but the $100 cable bill each month still stings. I can't imagine that people with less income and more expenses (like kids) would be too thrilled about spending another $30-40 a month just to be able to watch bandwidth-hogging animations or to download their porn a little bit faster. Of course, this is no surprise to the majority of people here.

    Oh well, at least the solution to all these problems is in sight. When all decent TV shows are canceled, all digital content is "managed," and every software manufacturer, media company, record exec, etc. has the right to hack into your computer, it will save me $100 a month. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to stockpiling TV shows and "digital content" in preparation for the information apocalypse...

  • Tired argument (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:16AM (#4311202) Homepage

    What more "compelling reasons" can you add for having broadband that aren't there already?

    Games? Already there, as is the incentive to switch to get ping times down. I don't see anything new and compelling coming out that absolutely requires broadband.

    Audio? Streaming non-demand audio is already there (I'm listening to BBC Radio 4 as I type), and there are demand (request/playlist) streamed services. Sure, the current commercial offerings of download-and-store music suck donkey dong, but the P2P services are mature. I don't see anything new and compelling arriving, unless the big music labels open up their entire catalogues as $1 per track uncrippled mp3's (not in my lifetime, I think).

    Download or stream-on-demand movies? Well, last time I checked the alt.binaries groups, pretty much everything that I demanded was already there. As for streaming, if you're getting your broadband over cable, then it makes no sense to stream a jerky little image to your 17" monitor when you could stream a smooth one to your 32" TV. In the middle ground, we seemed to be underwhelmed by the crippled 24-hour offerings that were touted here a couple of weeks back, so again we're holding our breath for uncrippled high quality download-and-store movies. But based on recent history, and with Palladium looming, I don't see the studios caving on that one.

    If we're holding our breath and waiting for large distributors offering things that Joe Consumer will find genuinely tempting then we're going to go pretty blue in the face. And this content is already available, if you know where to look.

    I suppose that it comes down to whether ISP's have the nerve to advertise broadband for the purposes of P2P or usenet leeching. I reckon not, but you never know.

    Disclaimer: I actually don't use broadband for leeching, unless you count the occasional porn clip. I like it because it gives me immediate and constant access from my LAN, fast downloading of sources and applications, and I can (e.g.) use my linux gateway to ssh-proxy web traffic from work and bypass my employer's insane web filtering. I'm sure many readers here will be doing similar, but remember that we're not representative. Why - really - does Joe need broadband to read his AOL-mail?

  • Take into account that a dial-up service PLUS the cost of an additional line just about equals the cost of broadband.

    I spend a LOT of time online and was tying up the phone line for roommates, family, etc. The only solution to it was to go online when:

    1. No one else was home.
    2. Everyone else went to bed.
    3. No one else wanted to use the phone.

    I happened to relocate to an area that offered broadband just as I was seriously considering getting a second line. I tried it out, and never looked back.

    For families with teenagers (my in-laws, for example), it's a great thing to get, since it keeps the phone line from being tied up. For households with people that NEED an internet connection, a single broadband connection connected to a firewall/switch can provide decent access for everyone.

  • I haven't read the article, but something I'm sure that's being overlooked here:

    Let's say that 90% of the people in the country are eligible to get broadband. What does that mean? Does that mean they live in a city where it's provided? Does it mean that they live in a "bubble" radius from a DSLAM-equipped CO? Or does it mean that n telephone circuits have been checked to be eligible and capable of DSL?

    Quite a lot of people that I predict are "eligible" are actually living in homes where they aren't allowed to conduct maintenance. In other words, if I live in a condo with telephone wiring from the 60's or 70's, it could very well be incapable of handling DSL. Do you think my landlord is going to fork over the money to have all the wiring redone with new cable so that one or a few whiny tenants can get broadband? Same goes with cable. I've got a friend in an apartment who loses his sync at least once an hour or so because the coax run through the building is in pretty sorry shape, and many of his friends are in the same boat. Nobody wants to replace the wiring because it's too troublesome and expensive for the few squeaky wheels that want it...let alone the masses that don't realize the benefits of it. Forget the last-mile we're dealing with the last-six-inches problem.
  • by intermodal ( 534361 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:24AM (#4311260) Homepage Journal
    Until they let me do whatever I want with that bandwith, including running a domain server out of my house then there's no point. I'm frankly sick of the business model being used to justify it...if you're on the internet, the fact is that all boxes should be peers. Any company providing access to web sites but not allowing you to host the same isn't providing true internet service...they're just fetching pages from the internet for you.
  • by DeadBugs ( 546475 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:26AM (#4311282) Homepage
    Many people pay for a second phone line for their dial-up access. When you explain to them that they can get broadband for the same price as the cost of Dial-up and the cost of their second phone line they don't see the cost as an obstacle.

    Plus you get the added benefit of a fast connection and the ability to share that connection among multiple computers.
  • Is to be hooked up to a small company. The large ones a profit-hungry and won't ever drop their prices, while some of the smaller ones are giving out decent service at decent prices.
    Heck, I'm paying about US$25/month for my broadband connection and they just came out with a "lite" service for US$17/month (light = ~96-128Kb connection). I mean come on, this is cheaper than some dial-up services out there!
  • Admitedly I pay more then most, I have a routed network over my dsl link and I expect to pay more for that. However in my neighboorhood most people are using dialup because of the costs of other services. Were not a poor neighboorhood, average house cost about 500K but people dont seem to want to shoulder the cost of broadband on top of an inflated mortage. Cable modems were available in the area and were only about 30 a month. Course they are asyncronous meaning out via phone and in via cable and you could order them without the cable service. They so oversold thier pipe however that they no longer issue them. One or two houses have directway dishes on them but for the most part my nieghboors are happy with thier modems and cant justify the costs of DSL to the area.

    I pay for my broadband because I use it alot and I know what its like to go back to modems. Most of these folks havent been exposed or just dont need it. The problem is people dont really know if they need broadband or not and throwing out a few hundred for a dsl router and getting stuck with a year service contract with an inflated rate is not a great motivator for people to try it to find out.
  • by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:37AM (#4311404) Homepage Journal
    This isn't a chicken-and-egg problem. If EVERYONE had broadband at current prices, and all music and movies were available under the current RIAA (RICO) policies and prices, I suspect most people would immediately switch BACK to phone lines and modems.

    People buy CDs, DVDs, tapes, and videocassettes because they want the freedom to do a lot of things with that material. They want watch/listen to the material as many times as they want to, whenever they want to. They want to use whatever media they have to watch/listen to it themselves (e.g., be able to copy CDs to their personal tapes so they can hear the CD on a tape deck, create their own CD mix, create an MP3 so they can hear music on their laptop while leaving the CD-ROM drive free for something else). They want to avoid the risk of extra fees and possible loss (assuming their houses aren't physically damaged). They want to do many other things with it, too, and as long as it's only for their personal use, they need to have the freedom to do so.

    Instead, many of the current electronic distribution techniques for music and videos have extremely consumer-hostile policies. For example, many of the current RICO approaches want you to pay monthly subscriptions, with no additional services and no guarantee of a stable price (I think we can safely assume that if these approaches caught on, the cost would ramp up steeply). Since the legal online distribution system is WORSE for the consumer than the alternatives, few consumers want it.

    Of course, if the music/video overlords will not provide their content reasonably over the Internet, what's left for the Internet to legitimately do? There are lots of other useful services on the Internet: email, web surfing, and so on. It would be NICE to have higher bandwidth for that, but clearly most people believe it's not worth the extra money and trouble. Obviously, things vary, but it IS more money in many places - not everyone pays AOL price$ for an ISP, and broadband is outrageously expensive in many places.

    Now I'm sure others here will disagree with me, but Napster-like systems of mass sharing are wrong. RIAA vs. Napster was simply the case of two evils pitted against each other. RIAA is very hostile to artists, really (the represent music publishers, not artists), but Napster was even worse. However, the growth of Napster and P2P systems is really an evidence that the current publishers "don't get it," and that is the real problem.

    The fundamental problem is that the music and video industry, instead of embracing a technology that could make them a ton of money, are sticking their heads in the sand and trying to uninvent technology instead. Trying to invent totally "non-copying" systems results in incredibly invasive and privacy-destroying systems which don't really work. Trying to make digital media uncopying is, as Bruce S. notes, like trying to make water not wet, and someone with a videocamera aimed at a screen can undo lots of fancy mechanisms. But even worse, such systems fundamentally subvert "fair use": copyright law is a grant to authors, under the condition that they permit fair use; if fair use is taken away, then clearly those organizations should forfeit copyright protection as well.

    A simple watermarking scheme that deals with the casual pirate would be better; it would permit fair use, and deal with piracy as under current law. The non-casual pirates are already creating copies, and will continue to do so regardless of the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) techniques used. It would be better to use the technology available to make it impossible for the pirates to compete, by providing a legitimate service that customers actually want to use. That means charging less for the material (you'll still make more money, since many overheads disappear and people can impulse buy more quickly), and making it trivial to obtain the material.

    Of course, since the publishers essentially own the souls of most artists, if publishers will not release their material under consumer-friendly terms, they obviously can do so. But that will just mean what's already happening: consumers will not use their elecronic distribution mechanisms. Unsigned artists are already making their material available in other ways; it's conceivable that eventually most material will be released by artists instead of the current publishers, at which points the publishers suddenly discover they're irrelevant. It's unclear that this will happen, but it's a possibility. I rather hope it does; it would serve these companies right for ignoring their customers.

    My two cents.

  • by Chris Canfield ( 548473 ) <> on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:45AM (#4311471) Homepage
    I don't think the report is quite accurate. They say that the internet isn't providing compelling enough uses to warrant $50 per month. They site online music and gaming as uses that spread throughout other companies.

    However, we still have tens of thousands of music channels at our fingertips online... legally. Go to if you don't believe me. There are still many, many short film sites up and running. And Broadband gaming is as accessible in this country as it is in the others, with games such as Evercrack, AC, and the upcoming Star Wars Galaxies just waiting to suck up every moment of your life.

    What we don't have is a technically savy population that knows these things exist. We don't have a population that bothers to ask what options come with their cell phone plan, let alone what protocol the company is using. We don't have a population that is interested in the latest water-cooled notebooks. We don't have a population that competes with eachother based on the size of their PDA. And, sadly, we don't have a population that was first exposed to the available uses of the internet at communal high-speed net cafes.

    If we did, we would realize that speeding up regular web access is bloody satisfying enough to warrant the output, let alone actually having a phone again. And if that wasn't enough, we would realize that such things as multiple 24 hour Tango channels, independent films on demand, etc. etc were available and desirable. For that matter, we would put more stock in independent music and film, rather than just seeking out the rehashed trash hollywood keeps programming us to want then getting upset when we find our own ways of getting it.

    High-speed (actually, it's just adequate speed) access IS worth it... the problem isn't a lack of programming but a lack of knowledge on the part of the people. If you really expose people to broadband, and show them all of the wonderful legal uses, they really won't go back.
  • by Xesdeeni ( 308293 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @10:53AM (#4311540)
    As someone in the computer/electronics industry, where we are squeezed for every penny, and where we have to add features each year just to keep the same (barely profitable) price, it is extremely frustrating to see the two industries that seem totally unaffected by competition:

    the phone companies and

    cable/satellite companies.
    Sure, I can switch phone companies. But I lose my phone number (still, even though they make me dial 10 digits to call my nextdoor neighbor, which was supposed to be so I could keep my phone number). But wait, for a bit more, you can block your phone number. And for a bit more, you can block people who block their phone number. But in either case, the phone company will sell your phone number to telemarketers to ensure that you do get calls that you will want to block...thus ensuring that you buy caller ID. Oh, and now they'll raise the price for caller ID, thank you very much. And if your state creates a no-call list, you'll have to pay for that too. Oh, but wait, some companies can get a state license to ignore the list you paid for and call you anyway. But you can pay for caller ID....

    The phone and cable companies introduced high-speed internet, and the prices go up while the bandwidth goes down. This year's fastest processors cost the same as last year's that were slower. This year's hard drives are bigger and faster for about the same as last year's. You can have more memory cheaper than last year. But they want to you upgrade to DSL or cable-modems by paying more. But if you actually use the bandwidth, they'll adjust the prices so you have to pay more, or you get less bandwidth...not much more than dialup in the end. Oh yeah, and the basic phone bill will go up too, to cover the cost of the digital services they are now offering. And they don't even offer any package deals with an actual discount (they just put all the same chareges on one bill).

    And don't get me started on cable/satellite. They raised my cable rates a few years back to pay for "improving the infrastructure" so they could "upgrade to digital cable." So now they have digital cable, but I still have to pay extra for it? I want my money back then (I guess we aren't demaning it back because we have a short memory)! And then they raise the price of basic cable again, and again, and just for good measure, again...because you know electronics equipment prices just keep skyrocketing and the number of subscribers keeps going down...oh wait.... And then have the nerve to ask why I don't want to pay more for digital cable. Besides, then I can pay even more by ordering pay-per-view!

    What I wish is that I could take this offer I got for free satellite equipment and installation and then programming at $21.99/mo and the cable company would meet it (you know, the way BestBuy does with a special at Circuit City?), instead of charging me $36.99/mo for fewer analog channels. I want the convenience of analog so I don't have to have a box (and the requisite fees) for all four TVs and both VCRs, and so I can use the picture-in-picture I paid for (we already went through this box-per-TV/VCR crap with cable tuners). Plus, I don't want to look at the over-filtered, over-compressed digital crap they send to the satellites. It may be digital, but it's garbage. I'd rather look at a bit of analog noise than golf greens with no details because they were completely filtered out and the halos and distortions of too-low bitrates.

    And I also wish that one of the phone companies would offer me the following package:

    local phone at as significant discount with FREE features (caller ID/call waiting/call blocking)

    long distance w/no fee at a low minute rate

    cel phone with decent minutes for a cheap monthly rate

    television for

    high-speed internet for


  • by NetGyver ( 201322 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:13AM (#4311715) Journal
    Had I known it was so hard getting hooked up on Adelphia powerlink cable modem service, i'd have second guessed getting it myself, I probably wouldn't have gotten it period.

    A grunt came to my house and runs a conditioned cable from my cable splitter to the surfboard modem and checks the lights and says "okay, your hooked up. and leaves.

    Well I couldn't use the damn thing. No instructions, nothing. So I called Adalphia and after a 2 hour wait, i finally got a real live person to help me get this modem working on my PC.
    She asked me if if the modem came with any RJ45 or USB i run to check the box the modem was in, I had a usb cable, but no RJ45. Like hell i'm using USB for my cable modem so I hung up and ran out and got a rj45 cable.

    Came back, called Adelphia, another hour and 45 min wait, then i got another real live person.

    So she walked me though hooking it up, and it worked. Only took me the better part of a day to get the cable laid, rj45 cable, tech support waiting, and actually setting it up.

    Thay make this shit sound so easy, HA! yeah right.

    I also have a personal pc and a laptop alongside the family pc. I orginially hooked up the cable modem to the family pc. I wanted access from all the computers in my house. So being a newbie to broadband i tried plugging the cable modem into each of my computers, and it wouldn't work on any of them, only on the family pc, which i first set it up on.

    So I called Adelphia up again. Waited 2 hours and 10 min. then I got a real live person again. I asked how could i share the cable modem to all the pc's in my house. He told me that Adelphia doesn't support sharing to multiple computers. But he asked me if i had a hub. I said yes. (I had a hub for networking at the time) He said some of them allow you to plug the cable modem directly into it. So he said i should give it a try, and we ended the conversation.

    I plugged the cable modem in the hub, but no luck. So i did some research on the net with my 56k Since adelphia was no help.

    Found out about routers, so i got myself one. Read the instuctions, and hooked all my PC's into it and the cable modem into the WAN side. Nothing, nothing worked.

    Another note: For the LIFE of me i couldn't understand why the cable modem only worked on the family PC and not my personal and laptop.

    So I called adelphia yet *again* and after waiting for nearly 2 and a half hours I got a real live person again. I told them about my confusion about the cable modem not working on any of my pc's except for the one i hooked it up to. She said:

    "Our service is designed to work with any computer." to which i said "if that's the case, then why doesn't it work on my laptop or my other PC?" She didn't have an answer.

    She had me running though oddball config files in the windows system directory but nothing worked and i spent well over an hour on that call alone.

    At this point it's been days since i had the modem and couldn't use it. Tech support was a freakin JOKE and i'm paying for something i can't use the way i want.

    So I called a tech friend, he didn't have broadband but he suggested a very importiant thing. MAC ADDRESS. This made total sense to me, the cable modem latches itself to the mac address of your network card. THATS WHY the modem didn't work on my other PC's when i hooked them up to it.

    I checked the router box and sure enough I found a MAC address for the WAN side of the router.

    Called up adelphia agian...and waited for 1 hour and 30 min. Then I got a real live person. Told them i got a new network card. (bullshit i know, but they cold-sholdered me about sharing the cable modem) So the guy took the mac address i fed him like a good boy and my router worked!

    I can use the cable modem on ALL of my PC's now. My quest was completed in the span of nearly a week after I got the conditioned cable installed.


    They adervised their cable modem service like it was the easist thing in the world to hook up, you get a "kit" to which you can do it yourself easily.
    You know what i got? I got a modem and a conditioned cable..._that_was_it_.

    Adelphia has the shittist tech support I ever encountered and hidious call-wait times. They didn't follow through on suppling me a driver CD which the modem was supposed to come with (not like i need it but hey i'm paying for it), it didn't come with instructions, nor a RJ-45 cable. And it was _not_ easy for a general non-geek like me to setup like they claimed.

    What did i get. Faster webpage load times, and faster software update downloads, occasional web radio and movie trailers. Hardly worth the cost of the cable modem OR the fustration of setting it up.

    Broadband providers need to step-up their support and mean what they say in their advertising before they can even think about getting more users.

    But in the end, i felt like I *EARNED* it =) So i'm keeping it. Hopefully something decent will come along that will really put the speed to good use.
  • Who Cares?.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr_Marvin_Monroe ( 550052 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:14AM (#4311721)
    This is not a troll against the original post, just an observation that too many people are acting like "broadband" is the cure-all for poor television, lack of web content, and if you believe Congress, our weak economy.....this is hogwash!

    I also keep seeing this statement about the "chicken and egg" problem of broadband, but nobody has explained precisely WHY it's a problem. What new content is going to magicly be available? What compelling reason could our Congress or even your city council have for getting you on the net faster. They work for you and should be FOLLOWING your wishes, not trying to ram broadband down the public's throat.

    Perhaps people are happy enough with what they've got! The option of moving up to broadband is always out there, there's simply no reason for most.....why is that a problem?

    The industry wants to get everyone hooked up and locked into big monthly bills....remember the AT&T comment (here previously on slashdot)about the targeted $300/month bill. This "get everyone on broadband" thing is ASTROTURF by the media players....

    If you buy into the current "broadband" push, it will only be a one-way stream. Starting at RIAA/MPAA headquarters and ending at your wallet! This push for "broadband" by Congress is NOT about getting more choice, it's about building Hollywood's pipes at taxpayer expense.

    I'm really not too interested in seeing "digital convergance" either if it means that I've got to live with Paladium and turn my computer into a worthless "set-top box"....that I'm going to have to keep replacing every time MS comes out with a new version of "Windows Set-Top-Box edition"...

    We should stop worrying about how many people adopt's their own business. It certainly doesn't warrent the government or anyone else getting involved. Perhaps we should just let the marketplace figure this one out on it's own....
  • by ChaosDiscordSimple ( 41155 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @11:23AM (#4311803) Homepage

    Quoth the article:

    Almost all U.S. families live in areas where a high-speed Internet connection is available...

    On the other hand, relatively few U.S. families live in areas where there is competition for high-speed Internet access. Even fewer have competition beyond their single cable modem provider and their single DSL provider.

    Cable companies and phone companies have fought like mad to protect their monopolies and their investments are now paying off. High-speed internet access is unlikely to to see big growth until customer have real choices, encouraging lower prices and higher quality service.

  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @12:10PM (#4312155) Homepage Journal
    Keeping dialup firmly entrenched is actually a good thing for the Internet as a whole. For one thing, it keeps web sites from getting unreasonably bloated -- if suddenly they decide that everyone has bandwidth to spare, how long will it be before your average web site spews a megabyte or more at you when you visit the home page?

    The other thing that's good about dialup is that it keeps America Online strong while they finish perfecting their broadband business model. Say what you want about America Online, but they're the largest obstacle preventing Microsoft from completely taking over the Internet. If AOL finishes moving its users over to Mozilla in a timely manner, it'll prevent Microsoft from burying non-IE browsers. It's easy to imagine Microsoft dropping JavaScript, for example. And what about those .NET apps embedded in web pages? Dontcha think Microsoft would love to have webmasters assuming that "everyone supports .NET applets because everyone has IE"?? Once AOL completes its transition to Mozilla, Microsoft won't be able to do that.

    Dialup helps AOL and AOL helps the non-Microsoft world survive. These are fundamental truths.
  • Canadians pay less. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Monday September 23, 2002 @12:33PM (#4312316) Homepage
    The average broadband cost in Canada is 35$ CDN, or about 20$ US a month. Everyone has it, except for people who can't have broadband due to being out of service ranges.

    There are lite (sic) packages which go for 20-25$/month, and provide up to 7k/s down (twice an average 56k for a little more than the 20$ separate line might cost), regular packages hovering around 35-40$, special introduction schemes, etc! The only problem is that there aren't any "pay more for more" high-end packages around. My ISP only offers one, which is about 140$ US a month for 300k/s down, 80k/s up.

    A lot of places do meter the access a bit, but mainly in provinces other than the one I'm in.

    And the result of all this? Much, much higher adoption rates than in the US. Plus, Canadians have been enjoying broadband since late 1996, so we've had a bit of a head-start in terms of mindshare.

  • by Shadow99_1 ( 86250 ) <theshadow99@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Monday September 23, 2002 @03:22PM (#4313565)
    "Almost all U.S. families live in areas where a high-speed Internet connection is available, but many see no compelling reason to pay extra for it."

    Sure that's a nice thing to say, but it's not true... In my area (North Western PA) less than 10% of the area is currently capable of getting any good form of broadband (sure satellite is possible, but sat sucks so I'm not including it). Cable & DSL are almost non-existant... Verizon owns all the phonelines & care only about college business & broadband is done by cablevision (which is part of aol-time warner) who don't care about broadband at al... Adelphia is also in certain limited areas (mostly a chunk of the city of Erie the biggest city within 100 miles in any direction), but they are tiny locally...

    I'd sell my mother for broadband, but no ones offering... I've tried to buy a T1 & no one would install one... Verizon won't even support ISDN over the local CO... I've looked into WISP's & other wireless sources (since wired conenctiosn are owned by 3 companies in total that I already mentioned), but none exist & unless we can get something higher than a modem here it's not ever coming... Eventually I found someone who would specifically run a T1 conenction, but they would charge $2000 to run the line & then $800 a month... I was seriously considering it even though it's slower than the versions of DSL offered by Verizon (where you can get it) & is hugely more expensive...

    I'm not the only one either, with PS2's & Xbox's (as well as Gamecube's eventually) being able to go online (but only really with broadband) the local market demand is increasing... But no one bothers to care if we'd buy it or not...

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"