Broadband Bits

Broadband Options for Rural America

BWA Research Group recently authored a white paper discussing the broadband technology options and financial implications of deploying broadband networks for rural communities.  

You can request a copy of the paper by completing this form.

firefoxLaptops vs. Desktops.

Laptops have long been a staple of corporate America but increasingly consumers are making the switch to portable PC's.  The crossover took place sometime in 2008, when laptops outsold desktops.   By 2011, research firm IDC expects portable computers to comprise 66% of all corporate PCs sold, up from 40% in 2006, and 71% of all consumer PCs sold, up from 44%.  

Laptops will continue to do better than desktops. IDC figures portable shipments should grow next year by 15.3% worldwide versus a decline of 6.7% in desktops.

A new category of small portable devices has stormed on the scene.  These devices with 6-10" screens labelled "netbooks" by some and "Small, Cheap Computer (SCC's)"  by others, are expected to have generated unit sales of 11 million in 2008, up from 182,000 in 2007,  taking share from the laptop and desktop categories.  Asus America, one of the top SCC manufacturers, told BusinessWeek that 10%-20% of SCC buyers would have bought more expensive notebooks or desktops if netbooks hadn't been invented. Another SCC vendor, Acer America,  puts the number at 8%-10%.  SCC's are expected to get an even bigger boost from device subsidies by ISPs and Cellular Providers looking to lock in new customers with multi-year contracts.

How Much Bandwidth is Enough?

The U.S. Broadband Stimulus plan has the objective to bring broadband to all American households but also ignited the discussion around broadband connections speeds.  The FCC currently defines broadband as 768Kbps (DL) and greater which is equal to the lowest tier DSL service.  Then there is the issue of advertized speeds and real live speeds. Recent research published by Ofcom shows that at present average speeds in peak hours are more than 30% below off-peak speeds. As would be expected, speeds and other performance metrics are at their worst just when people most want to use the internet.

U.K.'s Minister for Communications Technology and Broadcasting, suggests in a report that broadband should be subject to a ‘Universal Service Commitment’ (USC) requiring suppliers to provide a minimum of 2 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream speed throughout the UK.  While initially dismissed as insufficient, analysts like Point-Topic argue that 2Mbps combined with a 99.9% quality-of-service guarantee will give end-users a much more satisfactory experience with most applications. 

Broadband Access

According to the latest statistics, some 20% of American households have no internet access. Seventy percent of thouse not having access have no tool to access the internet (PC) while the  other 30% have a PC but no internet access.  The arrival of small cheap computers could provide a viable alternative for those households without PC's.

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