Monday, August 26, 2013

Pew Internet survey flawed by badly outdated, retro perspective

With the relentless pace of Internet bandwidth demand growth to support multiple services including video, voice and Web-based services as well as a portable devices used in the home, there is near consensus that only fiber to the premises infrastructure will be able to accommodate the demand going forward.

That’s why I’m taken aback to continue to see surveys such as this one issued today by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that take a decidedly retrospective view of telecommunications services with their late 1990s distinction between narrowband (dialup) Internet connectivity and “high speed” broadband connections. 

Dialup service is obsolete and can no longer be considered a useful form of premises Internet connectivity. Had this survey been done in 2000 when the distinction between narrowband and broadband was still relevant, the distinction might have meant something. In 2013, it is a distinction without a difference. 

The other major contextual problem with a survey like this is it concentrates only on computer-based services such as Web browsing and email. That’s also a major flaw in the survey. The Internet now delivers video and voice services including applications such as online learning, videoconferencing and telemedicine – none of which are truly usable via a dialup service.


Andrew said...

I prefer to talk about "little broadband" and "big broadband." "Little" broadband is the typical residential or small business connection that is widely available today, via DSL or cable modem, and is typically just a few megabits of bandwidth. "Big" broadband starts at a minimum 100 megabit connection, and jumps to the increasingly common Gigabit connection, with the availability of a fully symmetric connection (equal upload and download bandwidth). I agree that dial-up is equivalent to "no broadband."

Fred Pilot said...

British Telecom is phasing out dialup this month.

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