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Ultra Size Your DSL

The broadband fiasco comes down to putting the cart before the horse By Stephen Schleicher
One thing that you have probably figured out by now is that I and many other DMN staffers have broadband in some shape or form, and we love it. When we lose our broadband access, we get very upset and cant understand why we have to suffer in the dial up wasteland. Having opened the DMN Central Division in recent months I have been forced to be in that wasteland (figuratively and literally) many times, and it got me thinking, has broadband been forced down our throats? Is the world really ready to accept broadband in all its glory?

A recent report by emarketer.com found that currently less than eleven million people nationwide subscribe to some kind of subscriber broadband service. For our purposes well define subscriber broadband as DSL, cable modem and broadband wireless. The emarketer.com report went on to forecast that by 2004 a little more than thirty million people would have broadband service. For a country of our size, this seems like a drop in the bucket, and leaves one wondering, why havent more people switched?

I think the root of the problem isnt that people arent willing to switch--it is that they are not aware of the true potential of broadband. One analogy might be to think of the Ultra-Sized drinks that you can buy at your local fast food place. In the 80s a large drink was roughly 12 ounces of fizzy fluid. In the late 80s and early 90s the Super Size drink was introduced with a bladder-filling 32 ounces. Now that we are in the new millennium, the large drink of the 80s is now a medium size, the Super-Size has been reduced to normal size, and a large is now 64 ounces of caffeine madness. This new Ultra-Sized drink has become an accepted norm.

The same progression should have happened with broadband--dial-up, ISDN, and finally broadband is a natural progression that would have prepared the customer for everything broadband has to offer. Instead, the telcos and service providers ignored or passed on ISDN in the 80s and 90s but were more than happy to increase phone charges for those needing to access an ISP over dial-up. The industry skipped the Super-Size speeds of ISDN and jumped immediately to the Ultra-Sized DSL.

Many people have not adjusted their bladders to 64 ounces of fluid, and likewise many have not gotten adjusted to the faster speeds of broadband. I see this every day among the people I talk with in this mid-sized rural community in Western Kansas. No one really understands the benefits of an uber-fast connection and the potential of streaming media. This is also very evident in the many companies that had been delivering broadband services and have since gone out of business or been sold. Companies like iNEXTV, AENTV, and others had for many years been generating content for the broadband entertainment market and were surprised to find that the market was too small to sustain their growth. The viewer wasnt ready, and thus there were fewer and fewer viewers.

A new way of thinking about delivery needs to happen. Webcasting doesnt have to be all about broadband.

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Related Keywords:broadband, narrowband, narrowcasting, webcast, digital webcast, Stephen Schleicher, DMN Central Division, DSL, eggy, Victor Schnee


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