I just love the title of this one. ;) Hey, Google Fiber still qualifies as broadband!

#broadband #fcc #dsl

FCC Redefines Broadband As 25 Mbps, Angering Broadband Industry Perfectly Happy With Previous, Pathetic Standard | Techdirt
For a few months now, the FCC has been hinting that it was preparing to raise the base definition of broadband, and now it has officially made it happen. Voting 3-2 along party lines (because having goals is a partisan issue, you know), the agency…

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The Need for Speed: Behind What You’re Really Speed Testing

 What’s your broadband speed? There has been much said lately about measuring the speed of broadband connections, especially as relates to the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. The FCC has even placed two different tools on their website in an attempt to provide consumers with information regarding the speed and quality of their broadband connection. Both of these tools, one from Ookla, and the other from Measurement Lab (founded by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, the PlanetLab Consortium, and Google) have their methodologies published on the FCC website. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said that “Transparency empowers consumers, promotes innovation and investment, and encourages competition, and it seems that placing these test on the website is an attempt to foster that idea.

Business customers need to be aware, though, many factors come into play that can affect the results of these tools when trying to test the speed of a broadband connection. Starting with the computer that is actually performing the test, there is the possibility that it is resource constrained. For example, if the computer has other software running during the test, such as a screen saver, email application, antivirus application or business applications, these other programs could limit the resources available to the testing application and the required Java environment, which can affect the outcome of the test. And let’s be honest, that’s a very common occurrence.

Moving away from the focus on a single computer, there could be additional business traffic on the network in your office or store. For example, if the broadband speed test is being performed while other users are active on the network — for example, downloading inventory reports, watching training videos, or receiving email — again, the results of the test can be affected.

The type of network the computer is on can also affect the test. For example, if the computer is connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, delay can be introduced into the test results and affect the test, as the wireless path can be degraded by various types of interference.

And then there are many issues that come into play with the architecture of the Internet, and the technology of the connection you are using. There are very different physical characteristics between DSL, Cable, T1, Ethernet, Fiber, Satellite and 3G Wireless networks. Each of these network technologies, by definition, can affect the results of the test. Also, as you can see from the methodology descriptions, the test makes use of TCP and DNS, which can affect the results. The tests make a best guess to determine the location closest to your networks physical location, based on IP address look ups; these are educated guesses, but they can still be wrong, and you may find yourself testing against a site that the test thinks is logically close, but due to the complexity of Internet traffic routing could actually be far from your network.

These speed tests are trying to measure a changing, dynamic environment, and the two endpoints of the test (your computer and the test server) may not reflect the path your business traffic actually travels. There are many points along the path the test packets take, starting with your computer and your local network, and including your service provider’s network, the other networks your service provider peers with, content delivery networks that can sit as on overlay on these networks, the path the DNS server look up takes, the access network the test server sits on, and the test server itself, which could be resource constrained by the number of simultaneous tests being performed.

The net-net of bandwidth and business broadband speeds
Business users need to know that they are getting the bandwidth they require to communicate with their customers, partners and employees. Performing these tests on your broadband connection will give you one data point when you are making a decision on upgrading bandwidth, but there are many other factors that you need to take into consideration. What is the nature of the traffic you need to move across your network? What business applications are you running? How many users will be sharing the same connection? At what time of day do you need the best network performance? Is your network traffic secure? Does your network provide Quality of Service to make sure that your voice traffic has priority over the emails and web traffic moving across the network?

For consumers, the results of multiple speed tests over time, and performed at different times of day, will give them some information regarding the performance of their home network connection. When performing a test, they should make sure to be the only user of the network (i.e., the kids can’t be watching YouTube upstairs), and be sure to close all other applications on their computer. Businesses, though, should work with their Managed Service Provider to make sure that broadband speed test results are one data point taken in context with all of the other complexities involved in operating a next generation business network.

Posted on the MegaPath Connectivity Blog.

10 Topics for 2010

With the end of the year coming up fast, it seems like it is a good time to take a look at what 2010 has in store for us. Several trends in business connectivity have developed over the last year, and will continue to further evolve in 2010. Here is a list of 10 topics you should take into consideration as you do your planning for next year.

SIP Trunking – VoIP really exploded this year, due both to the increased functionality and the cost savings it offered to so many companies. In 2010, combining SIP trunking with MPLS and security is going to really take off.

Managed Security – Everyone knows that security is vital in today’s business climate. In fact, in many instances it is mandated. More SMBs and small enterprises, who don’t necessarily have dedicated IT staff, will be outsourcing this function to a partner whose 24/7/365 NOCs will monitor and ensure that communications integrity is maintained.

Extended Workforce – Several events over the last year, including the H1N1 flu pandemic and various disasters, highlighted the need for the workforce to be able to access corporate communications from their home offices. Telecommuting will see large scale adoption in 2010. Make sure you work with a partner who can reach your team wherever they are, and with DSL, Cable, Satellite and Wireless options.

Enterprise Social Networking – Facebook and Twitter exploded in 2009, and the communication capabilities they offer will invade the workplace in 2010. Look for various offerings in both internal and cross-company social networking in 2010, and make sure your network has the security and connectivity necessary to meed the demands of these applications.

Cloud Computing – We’ve been hearing about this one for a while, but I expect 2010 will be the year many companies move to adopt this technology. With Google and Microsoft both prepared with web applications, and with many companies having broadband connectivity in place, it seems like this is the year this might all come together.

Business Ethernet – Ethernet has always been a simple, high speed bandwidth option used for the LAN. In 2010, we will see large scale adoption of Business Ethernet for the WAN by SMBs and Enterprises due to the new economics that allow you to leverage these large pipes for a low cost.

Enterprise Video – Telepresence, Video Conferencing, Video Surveillance and Video Training will all see a major push in the next year, as businesses leverage these technologies to save costs, increase revenues and keep their workforces up to speed. It is vital that your network partner be ready with QoS enabled across many bandwidth options so you that you can be sure the video gets through loud and clear.

Extended Enterprise – People now work wherever they happen to be. In 2010, we will see more adoption by Enterprises of systems and policies that allow people to access anyone, from any location, on any device, at any time. Managed SSL VPNs will enable businesses to realize such a goal, while lowering costs and ensuring the security of sensitive data at all times.

Wireless Data – The application of wireless technologies to business communications will continue to grow. For years now, businesses have leveraged wireless voice applications to great success. In 2010, we will continue to see more deployment of data applications across wireless networks, both 3G and 4G. Wireless data technologies can enable rapid provisioning of communications to a store, offer an excellent option for backing up wireline communications, and can be used by your mobile workforce to access corporate data on devices such as Netbooks.

Payment Card Security – Securing credit card transactions will be the focus of a great deal of activity in 2010. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) will continue to evolve (PDF), and changes in areas like wireless networking will need to be implemented in 2010. All levels of merchants should be working with a PCI DSS Validate Service Provider (PDF) payment card extranet partner to make sure they are ready for the changes in the coming year.

Posted on the MegaPath Connectivity Blog as “10 Topics for 2010.”

Broadband – The Next Generation

The FCC has posted a draft version of a broadband study that was made by The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University (PDF). This very interesting report states “the United States is a middle-of-the-pack performer on most first generation broadband measures.” There are countries analyzed in the report with higher broadband penetration rates, who have higher capacity lines and who have faster and more ubiquitous wireless networks.

One of the most interesting findings is that those nations who have embraced “open access” policies are among the most high performing when it comes to broadband. The evidence seems to suggest that in countries such as Japan and South Korea, which have networks the report states are half a generation ahead of those in the U.S., have benefited from having policies that open not only their fiber infrastructure to competition, but also their wireless networks. Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are all also pushing things this direction, and their broadband performance has been improving. Countries such as Switzerland and New Zealand, which had resisted “open access”, have now changed course.

The FCC is looking for comments (PDF) on the Berkman Center study, and wants to know if the study accomplished its purpose, if it complete and objective, and how much weight they should give to the report, among other things. With the current Net Neutrality debate going on, it will be interesting to see the responses to this from the cable, telephone and competitive communications providers.

The report also points out that the $7.2 billion stimulus investment that the U.S. is making is mostly higher than similar investmants made by other countries. However, many of the leading countries have made long term strategic public investments in their broadband infrastructure, via expenditures, tax breaks and low cost loans.

I am excited that the U.S. is breaking out of the pack, and to the leading role we will play in the Next Generation of Broadband. It is a great time to be working in this industry, and I look forward to making sure businesses are connected and enabled with advanced voice, data and security capabilities so that they can stay in constant contact with their customers, partners and staff around the globe.

Posted on the MegaPath Connectivity Blog as “Protecting Your Mobile Workforce from Sheep (Firesheep, that is)”

The Summer of Broadband

Wired has an good story about how we are currently living ‘The Summer of Broadband.’ Specifically, the story speaks to the focus the new administration, through the FCC, is placing on America’s IT and communications infrastructure. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has been busy this summer, meeting with just about everyone to discuss the development of the National Broadband Plan. He has been quoted as saying that Broadband is this generations National Highway System. With the various stimulus work underway, and the upcoming workshops on broadband, there is definitely a push to more widely implement the transformational technologies that can increase productivity, lower costs and increase our ability to communicate.

Now is a good time to review the way that your business is taking advantage of broadband technologies. Whether you need to process payment transactions, lower telephony costs, secure your critical data, get closer to your customers and suppliers, or keep your employees more productive, it is in your best interest to review and update your technology initiatives. One call to the right partner and you can get the help you need examining which solutions can both lower your costs and increase your profits.

Posted on the MegaPath Connectivity Blog as “The Summer of Broadband.”

U.S. Launches

The FCC has launched a new website,, where it will place information relative to the US National Broadband plan. One of the items on a site is a list of the advantages of broadband. If you are involved in running a small business and haven’t implemented broadband, I think you should check this page out for some good information.

The site will contain important information about workshops and other data items relative to the development of the plan it needs to deliver to the President next February.

Posted on the MegaPath Connectivity Blog as “US Launches”.