5G won't fix America's terrible broadband

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/07/15/5g-is-just-fiber.html

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To be fair your cable company already does fibre-to-the neighborhood and cable for the last leg. That’s not bad considered cable to the home is ~1Gb/s sadly most of that is given over to TV.

Here in NZ the government pulled finger and we all have (or have the option in at least urban areas) fibre to the home - 100Mb/s is the lowest level of service, I like my 1Gb/s …



Some cable companies may have done that - they sure as hell haven’t where I live. On the very best days I can get 70Mbps - during school holidays when all the little darlings are streaming movies and music I get 5-10Mbps.

Comcast were not responsive when i suggested I might pay them 1/20th of their bill in turn for their providing 1/20 of the promised bandwidth.


I live in rural Aust. and this year finally got my NBN connection via fibre to the curb. Up from 3Mb/s ADSL to a steady 46Mb/s. Fibre to the home was originally planned, but the useless bastards in Canberra decided to save some $'s.
Good on NZ for doing it properly.


We’ve had fibre to the curb, and VDSL the rest of the way, for a decade or so now.

The main thing that pushed that was the government requiring the phone company owning the copper wires to allow 3rd party ISPs install their own hardware in the phone company’s exchanges … they pushed the DSLAMs into local cabinets connected with fibre with no room for 3rd party hardware.

The downside of fibre-to-the-curb (and the cable company’s fibre-to-the neighborhood, and our cabinets with VDSL in them) is that you are sharing that fibre with everyone else and, as pointed out above, your share goes way down when the local kids are on holiday.

There’s one other big advantage to fibre to the home over fibre-to-the-curb/DSL … because you’re not on an ATM switch you don’t have to wait for your slots to come around before sending your data - FTTH means you can send all your data at once which means lower latency


To be fair, that’s just not true in the US. From what I’ve read, that may only be about a quarter of the country. Although 75% of people report having “broadband,” that’s an over-reporting. Broadband in the US is officially only 25 Mbps for downloads - and some percentage of the people reporting having “broadband” have services that don’t actually even get that fast, so they obviously have low expectations of what constitutes broadband, below even the official definition. Rural areas have internet speeds that can routinely drop below 1 Mbps. One in eight Americans get all their internet access through their phones. I think a certain percentage of the US population are still counting internet speeds around 4 Mbps as “broadband,” because that’s what it was, officially, previous to 2015, and some providers are probably still calling that “high-speed.”

I live in urban California, right in Silicon Valley, i.e. the theoretical epicenter of high-speed internet choices, and it’s only in the last few years that they actually brought fiber - and real broadband - anywhere near my neighborhood.

What I’m saying is - you have no idea how terrible US internet access is.


Just build more towers!


I lived in the Bay Area for 20 years, the last 5 years designing cable settop boxes … I’m pretty sure you’ll find that Comcast plumbed fibre to your neighborhood a decade or so ago - at least by the time they rolled out channel-on-demand services, and higher bandwidth cable modems which was 10-15 years ago.


I have Comcast but I don’t want to pay their price for high speed internet so I’m at 17 Mbbs which is better than the limited 3g I had in Texas with Verizon. I do have 4g here but it’s pretty weak and I lose the signal often. Even here at the house it drops to 3g. No one will tell me when we will get 5g here, but they sure do want me to buy their phone.

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You’re correct, there is a fiber connection to the node controller which can handle 400-600 subs would typically have a 500/100 Mb/s link, but it could be as high at 10/5Gb/s Depends on what the subs on that node purchased.

FWIW, I’m getting 500Mb/s symmetric for $70/mo here in the burbs of NA. I can get faster, but I can’t imagine what I’d need 1Gb/s for that I can’t do with 500. It’s only $10 more/mo but I can’t justify it even for that small increase.


Well, all I know for certain is that the phone company sure as hell didn’t. And trying to get broadband would involve contacting a company that offered it “in my area” but, when the specific address was mentioned, the offer would disappear.


I can get a 1 Gbs connection in my area, but that just means I’ll hit my Terabyte cap in approximately 2 hours and 16 minutes, leaving me to pay double and get throttled for the rest of the month.


According to the little graphic accompanying this post, between 2019 and 2024 landline traffic will slightly more than triple, but wireless traffic will multiply six times over, or twice as much progress as landline in the same period.

Sounds like it’s a decent generational leap in wireless cellular technology to me?

Oh wait, it’s not a panacea to “fix America’s terrible broadband,” which is caused mostly by a set of business decisions made by monopolies, and their revolving-door government cronies (vs. available technology)? Color me shocked!


I’m in a remote mountain village. No cell service at home. Slow wired DSL from the local commo monopoly… 5G is meaningless here. I’m hearing First World Problems. Oh, you poor sods…


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