You Want Fast? You Got Fast...

New Edge  If you feel the need, the need for speed, you’re in luck: broadband speed offerings to the average consumer continue to increase at a rapid pace, and the actual speeds delivered by broadband providers generally meet, or exceed, those advertised.

These are just part of the findings of the FCC’s sixth “Measuring Broadband America” report, released December 1.

While the report shows broadband speeds available to consumers continue to grow, there is a marked difference according to technology. The overall median download speed is up 22% from a year ago, from 32 Mbps to 39 Mbps. Since 2011, the average speed has nearly quadrupled. The average annual increase in median broadband speed by technology was 47% for cable and 14% for fiber, while DSL speeds have remained virtually unchanged.

The actual speeds achieved by the vast majority of consumers meet or exceed advertised speeds. “All ISPs using cable, fiber or satellite technologies advertise speeds for services that on average are close to the actual speeds experienced by their subscribers,” according to an FCC release. “Fixed cable and fiber broadband customers experienced speeds that were 100% or better than advertised. However, the actual speeds experienced by subscribers of some ISPs satellite technologies were lower on average than the advertised ‘up-to’ speeds for their respective providers.”

It's That Time of the Year . . Again


  Two things happen this time of year: (1) my email is inundated with notices from vendors who will populate the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and (2) my browser reveals to any other user of my computer what I have seen on either the "Deals" page or any other site where I have checked in to check out gear.

CES begins just after New Year's with an extended media session this year. The media day that existed in past years has been expanded to two days (and in Las Vegas, the "days" mean the nights, as well). This New Edge blog earns me the right to attend as an industry analyst, which gets me in the door for the media events, so I now split my time between wearing down the soles of my shoes on the expo floor and hopping from media session to media session.

DirecTV Now Courts Cost Conscious Cord Cutters

New Edge  On paper, it’s a deal too good to be true: 100 streaming channels for $35 per month. Yet that’s exactly what DirecTV plans to launch tomorrow. Dubbed “DirecTV Now,” the new service will allow parent company AT&T to aggressively target the one in four American households that do not currently subscribe to any cable or satellite TV service.

DirecTV Now subscribers will be able to stream movies and shows over an Internet connection, without set top boxes or other equipment—similar to Netflix or Hulu. And while the $35 price for the 100 channel package is introductory (and will increase to $60 at some unspecified point in the future), AT&T has said that those who lock in that $35 price will be able to keep it for as long as they are subscribers—save for the seemingly inevitable content-related price increases.

Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

  SInce the New Edge mark generally denotes tech oriented content, I spent part of the weekend asking myself how I could possibly present one of my favorites of Abraham Lincoln's works in this forum. And then it hit me.

In a previous job, I habitually photocopied Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation and taped it to the outside of my office door each year. It was the analogue equivalent of a blog. It was a message I enjoyed sharing, but it did not merit a direct-push email to everyone on my contact list. (For historic context, please see Rick Schadelbauer's post from last week.)

According to this history, the first blog emerged in 1994. The term "weblog" was created five years later, and within ten years, there were rougly 50 million blogs worldwide.

At this point, I should note that I have never  photographed my food or "checked in" on Foursquare. Most of the web-based writing I have done, whether here or elsewhere, has focused on tech-related matters. Today, however, I will pause to virtually Scotch tape Lincoln's remarks to this virtual door. Enjoy, and have a good Thanksgiving.

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

# # #

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

NTCA to Host Rural Telehealth Seminar (and, Today is National Rural Health Day)

  Today is National Rural Health Day. And, in fewer than 30 days (December 15), NTCA’s Foundation for Rural Service and Smart Rural Community will host a rural telehealth seminar that will feature a deep dive into rural health issues as well as an opportunity for participants to test-drive telehealth devices. “Rural Health at a Digital Crossroads: Improving Care with Telehealth” will feature academics from the University of Virginia and the University of Southern Maine who will address public health issues and the role of broadband; tech developers who will demonstrate technical solutions; and NTCA’s own IT experts who will discuss network security issues implicated by telehealth.

The conversation could not be more timely or necessary. Telehealth promises beneficial results for rural America. Residents of rural areas experience greater incidences of chronic and other conditions as compared to their urban counterparts. When combined with distance from or lack of access to physicians and health care facilities and prevailing socioeconomic challenges, obstacles to the acquisition of affordable health care arise. Broadband-enabled applications can shatter these barriers and result in improved healthcare at lower costs, benefiting rural users while lowering national healthcare costs.

Pass the Mashed Potatoes, Please...

New Edge  With the election season in our rear view mirror and the holiday season looming ever closer, it is once again time for Americans to celebrate that uniquely American holiday that combines food, football, and family: Thanksgiving. In her new book Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience, Hudson Institute senior fellow Melanie Kirkpatrick details the history of the holiday, and how it came to be the occasion that we share today.

The first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts wasn’t exactly the inspiring celebration that latter day artists would come to depict. For one, only four of the eighteen women who had made the trip across the Atlantic had survived to see that day. In addition, the Pilgrims were likely outnumbered by the native Americans by a three-to-one ratio, and there was palpable tension between the two groups. Yet the holiday survived and was celebrated in various forms over the subsequent years, including what was known as “Forefather’s Day.”  And while President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving proclamation (despite considerable opposition from the states), his successor Thomas Jefferson steadfastly refused to do so, on religious freedom grounds.

Big Data, Big Lessons

  Late Tuesday night, a friend who is in the network security business (see his recent article rating the presidential candidates’ information security cred) posted, “I assume is having a huge amount of pollsters uploading their resumes. As most of them will be out of work and looking for a new job by morning.”

Our Long National Nightmare is (Mostly) Over

New Edge  Today is Election Day across this great country, mercifully ending one of the most contentious and nasty campaigns since Abraham Lincoln disparaged Stephen A. Douglas’ diminutive stature a century and a half ago.

The eighteen month-long campaign leading up to today’s election undoubtedly impacted the way people interacted with each other—at cocktail parties, over the dinner table, and on social media.

According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, more than one-third—37%--of social media users surveyed are “worn out by how many political posts and discussions they see.” Twenty percent report that they “like seeing lots of political posts and discussions,” and 41% “don’t feel strongly one way or the other.”

Silver Bullets, Silver Buckshot

  Over the past several years, I have had the privilege and good fortune to work with and learn from several respected academics who study telecom and rural issues. If there is one idea that I draw from their inquiries and conclusions (and even their tentative conclusions), it is that there is no silver bullet to address rural America. There is, however, silver buckshot.

Looking Closer at 5G

Cisco recently released a white paper titled Cisco 5G Vision Series: Laying the Foundation for New Technologies, Use Cases, and Business Models that lays out their vision of how the cellular industry can migrate from 4G to 5G. It’s a highly technical read and provides insight on how 5G might work and when we might see it in use.

As the white paper points out, the specific goals of 5G are still in the process of being developed. Both 4G and 5G are basically a set of detailed standards used to make sure devices can work on any network meeting the standards. Something that very few people realize is that almost none of the supposed 4G networks in this country actually meet the 4G standards. We are just now seeing the deployment around the world of the first technologies – LTE-Advanced and WIMAX 16m – that meet the original 4G standards. It’s been typical for cellular providers to claim to have 4G when they’ve only met some tiny portion of the standard.

And so, long before we see an actual 5G deployment we are first going to see the deployment of LTE-Advanced followed by generations of improvements that are best described as pre-5G (just as most of what we have today is pre-4G). This evolution means that we should expect incremental improvements in the cellular networks, not a big swooping overhaul.