education, technology, and everything else

Posts Tagged ‘bandwidth’

Living on the last mile

Posted by Miranda on November 14, 2009


The Last Mile

I’m writing this at the Latham Library/, no, I cannot tell a lie, I’m writing this at home to post later at the library.
Our phone line has been getting noisy lately and yesterday it finally became unusable.

We have dial-up.

Most of the time we connect at a fairly good clip for dial-up, anywhere from 49000 to 52000 kbps and before you tell me to eat cake that’s all we can get at the moment.
I live in a little hollow in the hills in Thetford, VT. There is no cable. There is no DSL I can’t get satellite reliably enough to justify the expense because the hill at our back – to the Southwest – blocks that most of the time. We get satellite TV when the leaves are off the trees. The TV starts to go in May and comes back in, well we started testing in late September and I believe in was mid-October when we finally got the Daily Show back. (Tangentially, I really think that works out perfectly. It’s like a higher power is telling us to get outside and enjoy in the spring when we lose TV.)

I live on the last mile and brother let me tell you it isn’t pretty out here. Our local town consortium, ECFiber is out there plugging away trying to get a loan to put a fiber network out here and to 26 other towns but it’s been an uphill slog to do that. It will be two years at the least I’d guess before it gets down Picknell Road.
There is a possibility, just a bit of a one, that I could now get wireless access. WaveComm has put up a tower on a large pine tree at the Gove Hill Retreat, a Baptist camp on top of Gove Hill. We aren’t really line of sight to it but we hear that a house halfway down our road is, if they put a repeater on their house we might be able to get that. I’ve been meaning to call WaveComm for the last couple of weeks to see if I could set that in motion.

But I haven’t and this morning it is taking me five to ten minutes to send a plain text email.

Our dial-up connection generally runs around 49000 to 52000 kbps. My son and I have an older Apple Airport that has a modem in it, we use this to share our connection and although we can’t both download anything at the same time it serves well enough for email and most things. (Airports with modems aren’t manufactured anymore. We had to buy this one on EBay after the original one died) But this morning there is so much noise on the phone line we are connecting at 18000 to 24000 and at that rate Outlook Web Access just times out. I use a plain text email client from Dartmouth – Blitzmail – and even that is now almost impossible.
FairPoint, the little phone company that bought all the lines here after Verizon decided it couldn’t make a big enough profit here, is in bankruptcy court. I wonder how responsive the support line will be today…..

nb: when I called them from the bank parking lot, using my son’s Tracfone they were actually quite responsive, or at least understanding

So spare a thought for those of us living on the last mile. When you send us photos, remember that 100 dpi (dots per inch) resolution is plenty unless we want to print them out and frame them. Don’t send us links to cool videos; it only makes us feel left out. When you create your website, go easy on the Flash, puhleeze!

AutoZone are you listening?

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enough is enough

Posted by Miranda on January 20, 2008

That’s it. I am removing CoolCatTeacher from my blogroll. I just can’t spend the time to download her blog over my dial-up connection. The new format is just way too time-consuming no matter what she has to say.

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Cassandra speaks again

Posted by Miranda on January 13, 2008

Cassandra, as you may know, was one of the daughters of Priam of Troy. She was cursed by Apollo in a very creative way. He gave her the gift of prophecy. The curse was that no one would believe her. I always felt a great deal of sympathy for Cassandra and many years ago, when my mother took me to Troy I sat on the wall there and tried to establish mental contact with her. She didn’t answer.

These days I sometimes feel like Cassandra though. I read so much enthusiasm in the edu-blogging world for technologies like video, Skype, social networking.. all sorts of new things. Perhaps it is because my town still has only dial-up and so many of these new technologies are unavailable to me that I feel less than hyped up. Could just be jealousy I suppose.

But then again it could be that because I work on the IT side and have a better understanding of how bandwidth works that I feel a sense of impending… not doom, that’s too strong. But I am beginning to believe it’s all going to fall. Articles like Net gridlock by 2010 – BBC, YouTube Comprises 10% of all Internet Traffic – WebPro News or Information Super Traffic Jam – Forbes have been catching my attention.

I’ve also been having personal experience with a traffic problem that in my opinion, already exists. I volunteer as a tech for a large discussion forum, the server for which is located in Miami. Over the last several months (since school started) our users have been having trouble getting to the forum at times of high traffic. We’ve been doing some informal studies, asking our users to send us results of traceroute from their home computers. The Washington DC, Atlanta GA, Miami FL corridor is a huge bottleneck. Signals can bounce around down there for quite a while. We are planning to move our forum to a server located in the UK.

The Forbes article says:

One solution suggested by network operators is to prioritize traffic based on service tiers and use revenue from content providers in the premium tiers to subsidize the high costs of infrastructure deployment. The crowd denounces this solution for creating Internet fast lanes and relegating everything else to the slow lane.

I believe this is just what will happen and it will start happening soon. Money talks and everyone else will be walking. Education will be a low priority and companies that can pay will get the bandwidth.

Sure there’ll be improvements to the global infrastructure. But they cost. Someone will have to pay and it will be you and me. Before those improvements take place, we are going to see some major slowdowns. and after they take place there will be rationing. It would be nice if the rationing was according to merit or usefulness but I fear that won’t be so.

Bandwidth isn’t infinite. But like Cassandra, I don’t expect anyone to pay attention.

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Bandwidth Hogs

Posted by Miranda on December 8, 2007

The topic is bandwidth this week at my school. The technology department had been working on a presentation about bandwidth for the last couple of weeks when what we might call a teachable moment occurred. The network has been getting slower and slower this year with the amount of data our students have been pulling down over our 3 Mbps. Faculty have also been expressing concern over how much time students have been spending on Facebook, YouTube etc during study hours. Tuesday evening the Director of Technology made a Packetshaper class for Facebook, MySpace and YouTube and cut bandwidth down to it.

Well we nearly had a riot. Students insist that they need Facebook to communicate with far flung family and friends that they need Facebook to collaborate on homework.
There was a considerable amount of hate mail.

It was what you might call a perfect storm type of thing. We did our presentation yesterday at the all-school meeting and it went over alright. No one threw anything. The one thing I wanted to get across is that bandwidth is shared, that using large amounts of it means that everyone else gets less and I think the students got that. I know some of the faculty did. One of them said to me
“I used to go and watch YouTube like it was eating a french fry. Now I know that to be a good citizen of this community I need to think about that a little more”


I have seen reports of a study in WebProNews that says that 10% of all bandwidth world-wide is used by YouTube. 10%! Of the bandwidth on the planet!

Does anybody besides me find this scary?

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