Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Today's Bandwidth Hog is Tomorrow's Mainstream Internet Customer

Scene 1: We spent the long Thanksgiving weekend close to home, nursing the tail ends of colds and mourning the passing of 50% of our IRA. My wife -- the very same person who a decade ago said, "Why email somebody when you can call them and talk?" -- was in the mood to watch movies. She started pulling down full-length movies from Netflix. We watched the first five minutes of several, chose one and watched in full-screen mode. Later on, we watched another. The next day, we did it again.

Alert: My wife, not a bleeding-edger, not a geek, finds it perfectly normal to watch legally obtained, full-length, full-screen movies over the Internet. If my livelihood depended on the old TV paradigm, I'd be quaking in my boots.

Scene 2: I checked into the hotel last night, and sure enough, the Wi-Fi sucked. Then I realized what I was doing: trying to download who-knows-what RSS feeds, a YouTube video and my email. Probably everybody else in the hotel was doing the same.

Hotels, it is time for a 10x bandwidth upgrade. Might as well make it 100x while you're at it.

We gave up the NY Times five years ago when it was just easier to get more information online. The local paper went two years back when we found google alerts did a better job informing us than the once a week paper. Last year we gave up cable TV. I don't watch much and my wife is a Netflix and Hulu fan. The important stuff (Jon Stewart, the Colbert report and some PBS shows) are all available online these days..

For my wife to have given up on TV means the world has changed.

Three years ago people would consider you an outcast if you told them you have given up on conventional tv. Mow they think and say
"hmmm .. maybe we could do that too..."
I found this blog just a few days ago but I have been using your original article about the Stupid Net for eight years already. I was a research worker, docent and professor of Technical University Helsingfors (Finland) but now farmer on my home farm which has been in the family for 700 years. I am a Swede (like around 6 % along the coasts) and long ago I started using the net to keep in touch with Swedish newpapers, radio and television.

With Internet there are no borders any more. The capacity, however, must be increased drastically and while Sweden is the next best in the world (after Japan) then Finland has been waiting for the "market" to build a fast net for eight years. Nothing has happened and now the Finnish government (being upset by a British investigation about net quality where Finland was on 15th place - after Russia) has initiated a program to get 100 Mbit/s to every houshold by year 2015.

I have been working for fiber nets since year 2000 and our village has had 100 Mbit/s for five years already but I'm sceptical HOW the will implement that decision. If they sit and wait for seven more years then we will be behind Sweden with 15 years ...

The wireless alternative is no alternative - it seems the people do not know about Shannon's theorem. There will never be any invention which could make it work. But it is a nice complement, though.

People are already buying HD-screens and the pressure to download videos with HD quality will increase for each year. But we have no infrastructure that even could start to handle that much information.

I'm in a government working group about network standards for open nets. It is nice, but the operators have not a clue what "open" means.

I wrote a short paper "The Only Really Open Net Is The Really Stupid Net !" which can be downloade from


Click on "Filebox". It is just a draft. Comments appreciated.
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