Broadband is in the eye of the beholder

So the FCC recently changed their definition of broadband. To those of us who think about broadband everyday that’s a big deal. But what does it mean to the regular Joe in Moorhead? Dave Peters (of MRP’s Ground Level) asked some of the Minnesota Ultra High Speed Task Force folks about that. By folks I mean Rick King, the Task Force Chair and Carlos Seoane-Quinteiro of Thomson Reuters who spent a lot of time working with the Task Force.

I hope Dave won’t mind that I’m re-posting some of his observations here:

But at the bottom of it all is whether anybody in Moorhead thinks he or she needs service faster than 1.5 megabits per second. Here are a few ways King and Seoane-Quinteiro thought that would get answered:

–You live in the Twin Cities and your aging parents live in Moorhead. As hospitals and medical clinics move toward remote diagnoses that let more people get help from the best experts, you won’t want your parents to get second class health care.

–You start a business at home and realize email and normal web browsing isn’t sufficient to meet your needs to deal with customers.

–You want to have video conversations with your son or daughter serving in Afghanistan.

–Your local government starts putting material online and making it easier to make transactions via the computer than in person

I saw another example of that “I know what I’ll need when I see it” on an email list today. Someone wrote in looking for an ISP…

…for reliable, inexpensive internet access for a home. It’s actually an apartment. This family ONLY needs internet, preferably high speed (or ‘higher’ speed) for two people simultaneously using fairly heavy access.

They didn’t know the bandwidth they needed – just the applications they wanted to be able to use; that would be high speed for them.

This entry was posted in Broadband Applications, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

3 thoughts on “Broadband is in the eye of the beholder

  1. Thanks for the link, Ann. Am wondering when/whether consumers will become conversant in the metrics of broadband. Will the day come when most people will know what 1.5 and 4 and 7 megabits per second mean in terms of what they can do? Or will that stuff remain under the hood and of concern only to a few?

  2. I think we need an “app for that”. I’ve been thinking about it and having an app that tracked our speeds as we browsed (viewed videos, uploaded vacation pictures, attended webinars) would help us be more cognizant of how much broadband we needed and when it wasn’t enough.

  3. Even with my Comcast cable modem, I get frustrated with my ability to view videos online. Providers should be required to replace their marketing phrase “up to xxx Mbps” with an “averaging xxxx Mbps.”

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