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Social networking - possibly the broadband demand driver
Thursday 07 April 2005 19:33:00 by Andrew Ferguson

We see people often ask about what is it about broadband that gives it, its wow factor. Some critics of the demand for ever faster services go as far to suggest that 0.5Mbps downstream and 256kbps upstream is enough for almost everyone. Dave Birch of the Observer has an interesting article over on The Guardian website, discussing this topic.

In the article Dave Birch suggests that the current 'premium' content type services you can get are not perhaps the greatest demand driver. He highlights something many people with distant relatives will have experienced, you take some video of a new-born or family gathering and want to use broadband to send it to them. Of course the problem then becomes one of, do they have the correct software to play the video, does their computer have the correct video codecs. The problems are made worse by the costs of a computer, which mean many families pass on old computers to children/relatives, but as each month passes it gets harder to support them, and keep machines running.

So as suggested perhaps the solution is channels you can subscribe to via devices like Sky+ so that data can be pushed to what is a relatively easy device for any one to use. Of course there is little point in options like this if uploading the video over a broadband connection takes hours, a few minutes of reasonable quality video can easily occupy 50MB which takes 30 minutes to send on a 256kbps upstream service. It is worse for people who have just regraded onto the NTL cable broadband 1Mbps service, which only has a 100kbps upstream, so in that case 50MB would take around 75 minutes to upload. This may change later in 2005, as new services like Home Max develop and LLU providers roll-out services that may offer 400kbps upstream speeds.

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