High speed broadband – it’s the uploads!

December 20, 2005

Om Malik is wondering just how much speed we need when it comes to broadband.

After years of being stuck in the slow lane, the US consumers are finally going to get a massive speed upgrade and taste the true broadband for the first time. From a 512 Kbps world to 6 Mbps, then 8 and soon 15 Mbps…. it seems the future has finally arrived. And with that, the question…. how much speed is enough? Can we the consumers really tell the difference between 15 and 30 Mbps? Or is it just a way for the broadband operators to get us to pay more… for something which we might use less.

After a couple of months on Verizon’s FIOS service (coming from Comcast), I have to say that I agree — to a point — with Om’s position.
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Apple Broadband Tuner – Free Speed!

December 1, 2005

I kind of had my doubts about the new Apple Broadband Tuner — I’ve seen a lot of this type of thing over the years (mostly on Windows systems), but few of them made any noticable improvements, and some of them caused a rash of problems.

I’ve been playing with it on my FIOS line for the last couple of days, however, and I can say that it makes a vast difference on some stuff — particularly loading web pages that have a lot of connections to different objects, like pages full of images, etc. Even better, I’ve noticed no complications with anything, either.

If you are a Mac user on a relatively high speed connection (Cable, Fiber, etc.), it’s worth taking a minute or two and downloading this to give it a try. It’s free, and there’s an uninstaller if you decide it isn’t worthwhile.


The Broadband Tuner allows you to take full advantage of very high speed FiOS based Internet connections that have a high latency. The installer tweaks some system parameters.

There is an optional uninstaller that can be used to restore the settings that were in effect at the time just before the system parameters were changed.

What does the Broadband Tuner do exactly?

The installer increases the default values for the size of the TCP send and receive buffers. With larger buffers more data can be in transit at once. A startup configuration file is also updated so that these changes will persist across restarts.

Apple Broadband Tuner

Verizon FiOS Internet Details

October 29, 2005

After all of the fooling around getting the order in place, the installation of 15/2 FiOS went pretty smoothly yesterday. The tech arrived and had everything installed and running within the scheduled window, and was cheerful and pleasant — a new experience with Verizon, and (knocking on wood) maybe the way things will go from here.

The equipment installed was a little different from what I’d expected. There are essentially three components, one mounted at the service entrance, one mounted inside (that requires a power outlet) and an off-the-shelf consumer broadband router (a D-Link DI-604).

The inside component is strictly a battery backup, and as such, it needs to be mounted physically very near the outside gear at the service entrance; a heavy-gauge cable is run between the two. The battery backup consists of a housing for a gel-cell battery, with a set of status lights and alarms, and an external power supply that’s mounted next to the unit and plugged into the wall.
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FiOS TV in Plano Soon?

October 27, 2005

When I first started down the little multi-month donkey-ride to get FiOS service, I wasn’t paying any attention to their TV play.

In the meantime, Verizon has launched their first FiOS TV customers in Keller, TX, and information on their service lineups and pricing has started to come out.

They’ve also petitioned for and received PUC approval to roll out cable service in other TX neighborhoods, including mine (Plano).
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FiOS Fiber & Comcast

October 27, 2005

Things are actually looking promising for my FiOS install scheduled for tomorrow; a tech is out in the yard at the moment running the fiber from the hub in the alley to the service entrance of the house.

I have to admit that I got a kick out of Comcast in this whole deal — since my Comcast (internet, no TV service) coax is buried in the same path, they were required to come out last week and mark where their cable is buried so that Verizon doesn’t cut it when they bury the fiber.

Just before they did this, a Comcast salesman came to the door “just to let me know they’d be working in the yard” — this took 25 seconds, and then he launched into a full-tilt pitch trying to get me to sign up for Cable TV service. Of course, it was just a coincidence that he had all of the material with him for their offers and “deals”.

I suspect that with the FiOS TV launch now imminent, this is standard operating procedure every time they come out to mark off for a FiOS install. Verizon has not sent out any promo materials on TV yet, since they just got regulatory approval a couple of days ago, and so new FiOS Internet customers may well not know what’s coming.

Since people who are already on-net with FiOS are the obvious first target to pitch FiOS TV to (all they have to do is hook up set-top boxes at that point), it is very definitely in Comcast’s interest to lock up as many of these people as possible with a cable TV commitment beforehand….

Hawking Broadband Booster – Improving VOIP Quality

July 15, 2005

Hawking Broadband BoosterThis looks like it’s going to seriously rock. Tom’s Networking has a review up for the Hawking Technologies Broadband Booster.

I abandoned my local telco about a year and a half ago, and went with VOIP from Vonage. It’s saved me a pile of cash over that time, and I seriously like the features and the call quality — most of the time.
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Gassy Internet

May 12, 2005

First it was DSL over phone lines, then Cable Modems and Broadband Over Powerlines—now Red Ferret Journal is reporting that a San Diego company wants to offer broadband access over your natural gas pipeline. We’ve now hit the point where if it comes to your house, somebody wants to offer data over it—I’m waiting for Jehovah’s Witnesses to start showing up at the door with oodles of DAT tapes neatly tucked into the pockets of their Saturday bests…

Nethercomm’s technology requires no modification to existing natural gas distribution infrastructures and can carry enormous amounts of data by simply making use of the entire spectrum buried within the existing natural gas pipelines. The technology delivers connectivity over the last mile of broadband networks without interference or degradation of other wireless transmissions. By not consuming or sharing costly spectrum, and not requiring installation of last mile cable or fiber, Nethercomm is prepared to make broadband substantially more affordable while increasing end-user bandwidth to unprecedented levels.

FCC denies states ability to force unbundling

April 3, 2005

Apparently the FCC isn’t going to allow states to force telcos to provide unbundled DSL—which means that they can continue along their merry way, forcing customers to buy voice services (and I suppose whatever else they want to require) in order to get DSL.

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Download Mangers Rock…

November 11, 2004

I vaguely remember download managers, back in the bad old dial-up days.  At that point they were usually tools to resume downloads if your connection died before it all trickled in (a not too uncommon occurance).  I’ve ignored them since then.

The other day I happened to run into Speed Download 2, a download manager for OS X.  For some reason, I looked at it long enough to figure out that it actually rocks for broadband users.  By opening up simultaneous connections, it downloads large files much faster than normal—right to the edge of the connection speed, if the pipeline in between can be driven that fast.  For a test, I downloaded an hour-long MP3 from the BBC site, and it managed to come in at about 4 megabits per second—which isn’t bad on a cable connection rated at 3 megabits.

Speed Download 2 plugs into FireFox and Safari and intercepts downloads of filetypes (well, MIME types, actually) that you choose.  By default, it includes all of the common compressed formats.  It took about 2 seconds to add MP3 to the list.  When you click to download one of these file types, Speed Download is launched and takes over the download instead.  It also provides a nice little download management front end, prioritization and queuing, restarts, history, etc.  It even will automatically share a download folder via Rendezvou for you.

Very nice, and well worth the $20 registration fee.  Check it out. 

Really Broadband

July 20, 2004

Talk about your “mixed feelings”—apparently fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) is about to be a reality in some areas, including mine—5-30Mb/s down, 2-5Mb/s up, starting at $35-$40 per month (depending on whether you want to take phone and cable from the same provider.)

The bad news?  The provider is Verizon

The worse news?  At these prices and speeds, it’s a no-brainer to do this versus Comcast.  I’ve just got to add back into my schedule an extra 40 hours or so a year on the phone with them for trying to get it fixed when it’s screwed up…

“Jus when I thought I was out… They pull me back IN!”

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