Category Archives: internet

National broadband is anything but a failure

Railroad construction: what a waste of taxpayer money, am I right?

Railroad construction: what a waste of taxpayer money, am I right?

Telecom consultant Mark Goldberg had some fun the other day in slagging suggestions (like mine) that the Canadian government might want to get more directly involved in the country’s broadband and wireless markets. He pointed to an article by Jeffrey Eisenach, an economist for the American Enterprise Institute and professor at the George Mason University School of Law, that criticizes Australia’s efforts to build a super-fast government-owned National Broadband Network.

With $7.3 billion being spent so far to connect just 260,000 premises – about five per cent of the nation’s households, representing a cost of $28,000 each – it’s “a failed experiment” that never should have happened. The best way to get great services and prices, Eisenach argues, is to continue letting companies compete against each other. “As the Australians… have learned the hard way, however (sic), there is nothing romantic about pouring billions of dollars down a broadband rathole – especially when, as the U.S. experience has amply demonstrated, the real path to better broadband lies in letting the market work.”

Where to begin? Perhaps it’s best to start with some background. The AEI is a well-known conservative think tank that has received funding from many of the biggest U.S. corporations including GE, Kraft, Ford and, of course, the AT&T Foundation, according to Right Wing Watch. Its board has included executives from the likes of ExxonMobil, American Express and Dow Chemicals. If there’s a pro-big business position to be taken, the AEI has probably taken it. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 12, 2014 in australia, government, internet


Broadband status quo strengthening digital divide

subdivisionsOne of the first things I did before putting in an offer on a new home last summer was call my internet provider. I wanted to know what kinds of speeds I could expect if I ended up living there. Fortunately, I got the all-clear – the fastest connections were indeed available – so my wife and I went ahead and ultimately bought the house.

It turns out I’m not some weird tech nerd with mixed-up priorities. A home’s internet connectivity is becoming an increasingly vital selling feature, like a big backyard or a new roof, to the point where houses without good access are being valued up to 20 per cent lower, according to real estate experts in the U.K.

Buyers are now typically considering fast broadband the “fourth utility,” after electricity, water and gas.
“The more demanding buyers now want fibre-optic superfast speeds as, whether working from home, streaming entertainment or managing the stack of equipment that now relies on this, a property needs to have 21st-century connectivity,” property expert Henry Pryor told The Guardian. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 4, 2014 in comcast, internet


Canada’s third-world upload speeds visualized

canada-uploadsIt’s more fun with maps today as we visualize Canada’s broadband upload speeds, which is perhaps a timely effort given that rural and remote infrastructure will be part of the federal government’s budget announcement on Tuesday. In the map above, I’ve matched the average upload speed that internet users receive in each province or territory with the corresponding average upload speeds of individual countries. All of the numbers come from Ookla’s Net Index, which ranks Canada’s national upload speed average of 5.2 Megabits per second poorly at 53rd overall. That’s below the the global average of 7.5 Mbps and the G8 average of 8.7 Mbps. As the map above indicates, Canada is very much a developing country when it comes to upload speeds. Upload capability is important for everything from cloud services to sharing photos and videos on Facebook and YouTube. In the remote parts of northern Canada, poor upload speeds essentially mean that business simply isn’t happening on the internet.


Posted by on February 10, 2014 in internet


Mapping Canada’s internet speeds

net-speeds-canadaA really quick post today – just the above image, actually, which is part of something bigger I’m working on. Students of geography will recognize this as a map of Canada; I’ve added in average download and upload speeds from Ookla’s Net Index. On its own, it’s an interesting snapshot of what kinds of speeds Canadians are experiencing around the country. More on this soon…

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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in internet


It’s 2014: Why is hotel wi-fi still so terrible?

    Novotel St. Kilda in Melbourne has some of the worst wi-fi in the world, according to Nearly $30 a day, with a data cap and throttling if it's exceeded.

The Novotel St. Kilda in Melbourne, Australia has some of the worst wi-fi in the world, according to Nearly $30 a day, with a data cap and throttling if it’s exceeded.

If you’ve ever stayed at a hotel, you probably know that hotel wi-fi is uniformly atrocious despite sometimes costing a relative arm and a leg. Last month during the Consumer Electronics Show, for example, I stayed at a hotel on the Las Vegas strip where my connection topped out at 256 Kilobits per second. That’s right – kilobits. In 2014. And that’s despite paying a “resort fee” of $19.99. I travel a lot and I only wish I could say that was unusual. Unfortunately, it’s commonplace.

West-coast news site Marketplace recently touched on the issue, asking why some luxury hotels charge for wi-fi while more down-market chains don’t. The simple answer is because they can, but it really has more to do with price sensitivity.

“The type of people that are going to be staying [at a luxury hotel] are typically there on business, which generally means that someone else is paying for it,” says one expert. “A $20 fee on a $400 room… is probably not a big deal when they’re paying $400 for a room,” says another. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on February 3, 2014 in internet


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