Friday, July 04, 2008

Study examines broadband availability, price, and consumer choices

The AP ran a story July 3 by Anick Jesdanun, indicating that many consumers do not choose broadband Internet access when available. The link is here. The story appears on p A9, Business and Economy, of the Friday July 4 Washington Times.

The study was conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The report appears to be by John Horrigan and may be navigated from here.

14% of those polled said that they could not get broadband in their neighborboods. But 35% said that broadband prices are too high (despite the introductory rates) and many live in areas with only one provider, where the lack of competition raises prices.

In general, effective use of the Internet, including any kind of self-publishing or small business, tends to require broadband to get all the security updates easily. Anti-virus and security upgrade files are often large and take a long time to download at 56K. Also many software packages are sold mainly by download, often with large files. It is true that many individual websites don’t require broadband for effective viewing. Files with text only, or even text and one or two images, are usually viewed easily at 56K with dialup. WS-FTP works reasonably well at dialup speeds for files up to about 500K. But it is difficult to watch video (YouTube) at this speed. Furthermore, many ISP’s seem to be withdrawing from dialup and require an existing Internet connection.

Some people need to consider broadband availability, price and stability in areas when they move. Apartment guides often list it, but not always accurately.

Wireless connections may work for many people, but are less secure unless a high quality subscription plan with many hotspots is purchased from a relatively large and stable company.

FIOS in many areas may improve broadband quality, but will take time to reach many areas.

Broadband in many communities will (like electric power itself) be subject the hazards of frequent severe storms, as in much of the Midwest or in many coastal areas. Wireless subscriptions (for laptops) may keep people exposed to these hazards connected.

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