F2C Day 1 Part 1: More bandwidth please

If I were to summarize the most important message from Day 1 of the Freedom to Connect conference down in Washington DC yesterday, it was the need for more bandwidth.

One speaker said that between the number of emails he was receiving and the size of the emails due to attachments, the bandwidth that he was using had increased eight-fold while his bandwidth had only doubled. This is probably compounded by the number of people on home networks growing rapidly as well. It was said that we have dropped from number one in broadband to around 20th, and there is no indication of the slide stopping.

Folks from Speed Matters pointed out that the definition of high speed is too slow. On the chat, one person quoted this article:

“This year, the average broadband speed will increase to 75Mbps per second,” Dr Chin Dae-Je, South Korea’s Information Minister, told a delegation of global policy leaders at a meeting of the OECD earlier this year, before adding: “I have 100Mbps in my home.”

While we aren’t seeing a lot of people working to build networks that run in the 50 Mbps to 1 Gbps range, we are seeing some initiatives. The first speaker was Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont. He spoke about why ubiquitous broadband access was essential to Vermont’s well being, with stories about Doctors from Massachusetts saying they could ski in Vermont because there was no cellphone coverage, or small companies not being able to do business in Vermont because they needed to place orders over the Internet. He spoke about the need for a doing more than just incremental changes.

In the chat backchannel, there were discussions about efforts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island to lead the way in Wireless. Others mentioned the Connect Kentucky effort.

Later in the day, Sanjit Biswas of Meraki Networks spoke. They are working on a project to build wireless mesh networks, based on the Roofnet project at MIT. They provide a $50 mesh wireless router and talk about “bringing Internet access to the next billion people.” In the chat it was briefly compared to FON touching on geeky discussions of OpenWRT and dd-WRT.

If you think this covered a lot of ground, it was nothing compared to the discussion of what we could be doing with better bandwidth, which I hope to get to in a later post.

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