African Spurred Tortoise by Alexey Krapukhin
African Spurred Tortoise by Alexey Krapukhin
Photo credit: Alexey Krapukhin

Ars Technica covered the story that AT&T and Verizon say 10Mbps is too fast for “broadband,” 4Mbps is enough:

AT&T and Verizon have asked the Federal Communications Commission not to change its definition of broadband from 4Mbps to 10Mbps, saying many Internet users get by just fine at the lower speeds.

“Given the pace at which the industry is investing in advanced capabilities, there is no present need to redefine ‘advanced’ capabilities,” AT&T wrote in a filing made public Friday after the FCC’s comment deadline (see FCC proceeding 14-126). “Consumer behavior strongly reinforces the conclusion that a 10Mbps service exceeds what many Americans need today to enable basic, high-quality transmissions,” AT&T wrote later in its filing. Verizon made similar arguments.

In contrast, Comcast says that about 47 percent of their subscribers get at least 50Mbps. The cities (including San Leandro) that have gigabit access show no signs of slowing their subscriber base.

An intriguing table in the article, FCC 2014 Household Bandwidth Scenarios, shows a single user in a “low use household” using at least 4 Mbps to watch/record one standard streaming movie, one voice call, a little browsing and syncing. A single user in a “high use households” needs at least a 10Mbps download speed to watch/record one super HD movie, make one HD video call, move files to/from the cloud, and check for email. The truth is that households are rarely one user and one device, and since we’re talking home use, demand times tend to be concentrated into parts of the day when people are home. Also note that the focus of this table is on “consuming” (downloading) and not “sharing” (downloading and uploading) as an Internet of Things will require.

As our health, energy, and communications technologies advance, so will the data requirements for coordination and management at home and away. AT&T and Verizon don’t wish to meet the needs of the present or be a part of the future. That would be fine if they weren’t the only provider in many areas. It’s the job of the nation’s policymakers to rightfully aim higher and redefine broadband with an eye toward the future. We encourage you to let the FCC know your thoughts on minimum broadband speeds, AT&T’s and Verizon’s claims, or other matters affecting your Internet access by phone, email, letter, or otherwise.


San Jose Mercury News has a great story by Rebecca Parr:

San Leandro entices tech startups, entrepreneurs

SAN LEANDRO — This small town between Oakland and Hayward is coming out of the downturn like few places around, attracting tech startups, artists and brewers to a onetime traditional industrial hub.

“San Leandro is embracing change for the first time in decades,” said Deborah Acosta, the city’s first innovation officer.

The boom is the result of a happy convergence of action and resources — available long-vacant or underused manufacturing sites; a businessman who financed a fiber optic loop in city-owned conduit and the city jumping into a public-private partnership with him, the first of its kind in the Bay Area; and using broadband to lure tech firms.

Here’s a link to the full article (San Jose Mercury News), and also here (Inside Bay Area Business).

Photo from The Gate: Espen (Type A Machines) and Dave (The Gate)
Espen Sivertsen CEO of Type A Machines a company that makes desktop 3-D printers and David Holley property manager of The Gate innovation center, from left, pose for a photograph in San Leandro, Calif., Friday, July 25, 2014. San Leandro is looking to turn things around with the new innovation center that has attracted tech start-ups, artists and a brewery. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

The radio program Marketplace ran a nice story by Aaron Mendelson about San Leandro in their Tech section today.

Wannabe tech cities need angel investors, too

The suburb of San Leandro sits just east of Oakland, California, within striking distance of San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Underneath the city lies a loop of ultrafast fiber optic cable known as Lit San Leandro. Data speeds through these cables about 2,000 times faster than a typical internet hookup.

The cable exists because of one guy: Pat Kennedy.

Kennedy runs OSIsoft, a company based in San Leandro. A few years ago, he was looking to expand, but he wanted the kind of infrastructure he saw in towns like Palo Alto. So he put down $3 million of his own money to make it happen in his backyard.

“The reason I did it is that I’ve actually been a 40-year resident of San Leandro,” Kennedy says.

It became clear to him that industrial cities like his were never going to be top picks for things like broadband or fiber. “We’re really going to suffer as a result,” Kennedy says.

Here’s the link to the full story and broadcast.