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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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March 12, 2008 11:53 AM

Wireless Still Chugging Along...New Peaks for Both Wired and Wireless...

Seeing as how late last week I broke through the 5GB monthly bandwidth cap on my wireless service, I decided to keep forging ahead into this brave new world.

So far? No change. Even though I'm not up over 8GB in data I've sent and received this month, I've not seen any drop in performance.

In fact over weekend I hit a new high water mark for speed with my wireless card: 2.75Mbps.

Even my less than techie friends are blown away by this number. They understand that it's twice as fast as most DSL lines. While they may not known specific bandwidth requirements for apps, they do know that you can do a lot with 2.75Mbps.

The problem, though, is that my wireless connection is highly inconsistent. At night it routinely tops 1Mbps, but during the day I'm ecstatic if I break 500Kbps, and too often it'll go through periods where the connectivity drops below 200Kbps, making activities like watching video nigh impossible.

Even more troubling, though, is that these speeds vary dramatically from one moment to the next. I can have 1Mbps, and the next second only get 150Kbps. The problem with this up and down is that it renders some Internet applications unusable. For example, I would never rely on my wireless connection to do a live videocall. Even putting aside wireless's upstream limitations, I wouldn't want to deal with watching a live video that runs great one moment and stutters the next.

On the wireline side of things I've also got some good news: last night I plugged in to download a big file and broke the 20Mbps plane for the first time.

That's the funny thing about cable broadband like I have. I often lament over how you don't get what you pay for since it's a shared network where your neighbor's use impacts your connectivity. But at the same time, I'm certainly not paying for 20Mbps.

True, I do have Comcast's fastest residential service that's available to me, and I know they're pushing the bursting capabilities of their network, where very fast speeds can be realized for short periods of time.

But even still, it was remarkable to see my gauge jump all the way to 23Mbps+. And boy did it download that file fast! I think it was a 50MB file I was downloading that finished in what felt like seconds.

It's interesting that my wireless and wireline peaked on similar days, especially since the two peaked relative to each other by a factor of ten.

Now I've never looked into this to confirm a specific ratio, but I think it's safe to say that wireline capacity stays ahead of wireless by at least a factor of ten.

Just look at the numbers: the latest wireless broadband is touting 1-3Mbps; the latest wireless broadband 10-30Mbps.

It'll be interesting to see how this trend evolves over time as both are realizing lots of investment but both also have a lot of uncertainty when it comes to competing technologies and slow adoption rates.

In any event, at this point as a user I couldn't be happier. Both my wireless and wireline connections are getting faster without me having to say or pay anything.

That said, they both still have a long ways to go until I consider them to be big broadband connections that can support all the wonderful bandwidth-intensive applications the Internet makes possible.


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