When Consumers Cry the Blues

This was a after thought to yesterdays post about crapy Internet Hosting companies here in Canada, as most ISP of the highspeed genre are cutting back services, they still want that top dollar out of your pocket. On campus, I indulge myself by going to the computer science labs and catching up on the latest technologies and ideas that the profs proudly place on display. I had told one of the more veteran profs about my experiences of finding the perfect ISP for my website and he gave me several suggestions. However, when we went off tangent from our subject and started talking about the state of highspeed providers, I noticed a sense of “concern/pity” in his voice. So, naturally, I quizzed him on this subject, because I am also having a beefs with these companies. He explained that the problem stems from so many people now downloading movies, music and other types of large files that overloading is the number one problem. The problem is so bad that entire cities were down from overloaded systems and bandwidth, and the halting the system for periods of time was the only way to keep things on track. Vancouver had such a disruption in the last week when all fiber optic service from the States was interrupted and data had to be rerouted back to Calgary, only to move at a snails pace.

On campus, one of the labs has a spacial top of the line modem that is by far unique to everything else. It’s connection, to a 19 inch rack, that looks more like a server-rack then anything else, with a row of four green LEDs flickering back and forth and a single power switch, it looks so antiquated. This modem is connected to a 5/8 coaxial cable that does not plug into the wall, but directly hangs from the ceiling, out through a make-shift hole cut into the wall, then up to a 36 inch satellite dish. This is the receiver. Although this is a prototype, the data transfer rate is already at half a megabyte per second, and is rated to hit a whopping 5 MB per second once all the tweaking is done. The deal is, you can download at incredible rates, however, if you want to upload, then you must use the phone service, a special connection is made to the service provider that uploads your data. The catch is, this service is expensive. It is limited and yet so versatile because you do not need to drag any cables around–this is true wireless technology.

So, I asked weather it was true that everyone downloading larger amounts of data via cable and fiber optics was really causing the problems, or was this really just another money crab for the poor services due to more competition. His answer was mixed. On one had you have the serge of people downloading at never-before rates while on the other hand, you have maintance and upgrade costs that are going through the roof. Then, ultimately, you have the threat of new competition hitting the market that could spell doom for the land-line ISPs when higher bandwidth become a commodity rather than a service. Satellite Internet may change the way we are connect within weeks as the system in now world wide.

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