FCCs RFC for the Definition of Broadband

Bill Stewart nonobvious at gmail.com
Tue Aug 25 16:41:02 CDT 2009

It's not a technical question, it's a political one, so feel free to
squelch this for off-topicness if you want.
Technically, broadband is "faster than narrowband", and beyond that
it's "fast enough for what you're trying to sell"; tell me what you're
trying to sell and I'll tell you how fast a connection you need.
<ul><li>If you're trying to sell email, VOIP, and lightly-graphical
web browsing, 64kbps is enough, and 128 is better.  <li>If you're
trying to sell wireless data excluding laptop tethering, that's also
fast enough for anything except maybe uploading hi-res camera video.
<li>If you're trying to sell talking-heads video conferencing, 128's
enough but 384's better.  <li>If you're trying to sell internet radio,
somewhere around 300 is probably enough.  <li>If you're trying to sell
online gaming, you'll need to find a WoW addict; I gather latency's a
bit more of an issue than bandwidth for most people.  <li>If you're
trying to sell home web servers - oh wait, they're not! - 100-300k's
usually enough, unless you get slashdotted, in which case you need
50-100Mbps for a couple of hours. <li>If you're trying to sell
Youtube-quality video, 1 Mbps is enough, 3 Mbps is better.  <li>If
you're trying to sell television replacement, 10M's about enough for
one HD channel, 20's better, but the real question is what kind of
multicast upstream infrastructure you're using to manage the number of
channels you're selling, and whether you're price-competitive with
cable, satellite, or radio broadcast, and how well you get along with
your city and state regulators who'd like a piece of the action.
<li> If what you're trying to sell is "the relevance of the FCC to the
Democratic political machines", the answer is measured in TV-hours,
newspaper-inches, and letters to Congresscritters, which isn't my
problem.  </ul>

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