Gridline Communications - Consumer Broadband

Gridline Communications - Consumer Broadband: "Gridline Communications, a Broadband communications company, has one simple goal. To utilize our broadband transport networks, deployed for Smart Grid services, to provide communities and their businesses and residents with reliable, cost effective, broadband access to communications, online services, and information."

Electricity lines used in new broadband pilot

Electricity lines used in new broadband pilot: "US firm Gridline Communications has joined forces with Electricity Northwest, which controls the grid in the Shap area, to bring broadband to the 1,000 or so residents in the village."

Millions of Americans Lack Access to Broadband's Economic Benefits

"America may have invented the Internet, but more than 100 million American lack access to broadband and its accompanying economic benefits, according to a new report from the Federal Communications Commission.

Some 26 million Americans in largely rural areas across the nation lack high-speed connections to the Internet, the FCCs Broadband Progress Report to Congress found, cutting them off from broadband-based jobs and other economic opportunities."

Millions of Americans Lack Access to Broadband's Economic Benefits: As reported in AOL Wallet Pop.

Sen. Sanders: Satellite Should NotBe De Facto Cable Competition

"Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wants the FCC to disallow satellite service from qualifying as effective competition to cable service in his home state."

Sen. Sanders: Satellite Should NotBe De Facto Cable Competition - 2011-05-25 01:48:41 | Broadcasting & Cable

Great Blog to Follow: Cassandra Heyne's Rural TeleCommentary

A wealth of detail on current discussions in rural telecomm regulation, policy, etc., from someone who 'gets' the value of rural broadband:
"Yet, people do live in these areas, and they deserve quality and affordable broadband. I have long argued that these are the people who need broadband the most, because broadband has the potential to transform their lives in ways that it cannot in urban areas simply by opening up the entire world of education, health care, finance, business and culture to individuals who would normally have to drive 300 miles to reach the nearest 'city' to conduct business or even purchase everyday goods and services." -- Cassandra Heyne

Give Back a Bit: Fixing the "Read More" problem in Blogger posts

I just found a problem in Blogger with the Read More jump feature, then I fixed it thanks to some helpful souls out there on the internets. You can see the thing I'm talking about if you view this post on the home page of the blog. The first part of the post appears on the home page of the blog but the rest of the post is not visible until you click the link that says "Click here to read the rest of the story..."

This was just not working on this blog before I fixed it today. The link, referred to as a jump and often denoted by More or Read more, did not appear, so there was no easy way to get from the home page to the rest of the story (you couldn't even see that the rest of the story existed).

Apparently this problem exists with some Blogger templates and not others. Using Google I found a solution and it is listed below the jump on this story. I wanted to thank the person who wrote the fix but his blog seems to have disappeared, so I am repeating the fix and thanking "swathipradeep," whom I assume is Swathi Pradeep, for coming up with this code and sharing it.

If you are having this problem with your Blogger blog then here is how you fix it (instructions created by Swathi Pradeep):

1. Back up your template code by downloading it: Go to the Design tab and select Edit HTML, then click Download Full Template. Save to your hard drive. This allows you to get back to the original template if something goes wrong.

2. After backing up your template, click the Expand Widget Templates check box (or tick the tick box if you're a Brit). Now scan your HTML for the following snippet (I used the Ctrl-F shortcut for Find):
Once you've located that code, paste the following snippet directly below it:
<b:if cond='data:post.hasJumpLink'> 
<div class='jump-link'>
<a expr:href='data:post.url + "#more"'><data:post.jumpText/></a>
</b:if >
As I have said before and will probably be saying again: I feel like I don't give back enough when it comes to the zillions of tech tips like these that I need/find/use to do my work/play. So I'm going to try to do better. I came up with GeeBaB as an acronym for Give Back a Bit and I will endeavor to geebab more useful tech learnings in the future.

Ironically, I ran into a problem trying to present the above tip because of Blogger's rather primitive display of code text. How did I get around the problem? I read about a dozen web pages offering solutions and decided the best one was these boxes to display code, as described in this post at BlogKori, Thanks!

Satellite Internet Whitepaper Downloaded Hundreds of Times Already

The launch of the RuMBA whitepaper addressing satellite Internet's suitability for rural broadband access has been going very well  with hundreds of people downloading it already. Here are some of the places on the web that the paper has been hightlighted:
You can download the whitepaper here.

Satellite Broadband Little Help To Rural Areas, Report Says

The new whitepaper is getting some traction in the press. You can download it from here. The following is from an article at

"Given the limitations of satellite Internet service detailed in this report, RuMBA cannot consider satellite a viable solution for rural communities who are increasingly cut off from mainstream America by the lack of access to affordable broadband service," said Luisa Handem, founder and Managing Director of RuMBA USA.

As reported by Consumer Affairs

Reasons Why the Word Broadband Matters: #17 Satellite is not broadband

With over 610,000 subscribers, HughesNet is the largest supplier of satellite Internet service in America. The billion dollar company that owns HughesNet is Hughes Network Systems, LLC, which routinely describes itself as "the world's leading provider of broadband satellite services." You can see this on the company website and in the company's reporting of its first quarter 2011 results.

The problem is that broadband satellite is an oxymoron. The Internet you get from a satellite is not broadband. Just ask anybody who has used both satellite and cable, DSL, or fiber. The broadband functionality that DSL/cable/fiber users take for granted just doesn't work, or doesn't work well, over satellite; we're talking core functionality like automatic software updates, VoIP, VPN, NetFlix movies, website hosting, online backup and shared cloud storage services like Dropbox.

Who says such functionality is not there? The satellite Internet companies themselves, including Hughes. This fact is made clear in a 22-page report just released by the Rural Mobile and Broadband Alliance. Conveniently known as RuMBA USA, this non-profit group seeks to expand the availability of affordable broadband access in rural America.

Although I recommend reading the full report (disclaimer: I wrote it) you really don't have to look any further than the HughesNet website to see what I mean when I say that...

...the word "broadband" matters. The title of the website is: "HughesNet Hi-Speed Satellite Internet Provider." And the site describes a variety of services, all of which are described as high-speed Internet. None of them are described as broadband.

Now switch to the Hughes website and you will see a video titled "Consumer Broadband: A Thriving Market" and plenty of other "broadband" messaging. So why does Hughes talk "broadband satellite" on its corporate website and "hi-speed Satellite Internet" on the HughesNet consumer site, the site that actually sells the satellite service? The answer might be as simple as "truth in advertising."

You can't really fault HughesNet for saying "Enjoy easy, convenient high-speed Internet anywhere, anytime, Get High-Speed Satellite Today!" Based on 2 out of 3 critical speed factors used to describe Internet connectivity, HughesNet satellite Internet service can perform faster than a dialup modem. Indeed, adverts for the service often stress that is it faster than dialup. Headline upload and download speeds offered by the satellite service are certainly higher than the 56Kbps at which a dialup modem maxes out.

Where satellite Internet is not faster than dialup is the time it takes for a single bit of data to get from one computer to another across the network. This is known as latency and it has a big effect on things like signing into your online account and other secure services over the Internet (basically any web page URL that starts with https://). That's because encrypted connections require a "handshake" to take place in which a lot of small pieces of information are exchanged back and forth between the web server and the web client.

You can read more about security handshakes in this 2002 USENIX security paper. But latency affects more than secure connections. The time between sending a request for a web page or a change on a web page and the time that the request reaches the server that is serving up the page is always going to be longer over satellite, about 10X longer than on a true broadband connection. See this early paper that references the problem: Data Coomunications Protocol Performance on Geo-stationary Satellite Links (Hans Kruse, Ohio University, 1996).

As Kruse states, the one-way trip for a data bit to a geo-stationary satellite takes 250 milliseconds (that's 500 for a round trip into space and back). And the laws of physics dictate you can't shorten that time, unless you can get data packets to travel faster than the speed of light. Add some ground station and Network Operations Center overhead and you get a best case satellite Internet latency of around 600ms. This might not sound like a long time but it can mean that logging into a secure site can take minutes, not seconds.

Other activities, such as a typical remote employment task like writing code, are also impacted. Consider this programmer's complaint about cable Internet being slower, at 80ms, than DSL at 20ms. Now compare that to 600ms, which is the best I've seen on satellite, where latency can average 1000ms, or 50 times slower than DSL.

So, satellite is not broadband, and that matters because the federal government has given tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to satellite companies to provide broadband service. As the Hughes Annual Report of 2010 proudly proclaims: "Hughes Wins $58.7 Million Under U.S. Recovery Act Broadband Program." Except it just isn't broadband.

Satellite Internet Service: Amazing technology but not broadband (and why that matters more and more)

A new report on satellite Internet service has just been published by the Rural Mobile and Broadband Alliance, or RuMBA (clever name, huh!). This free whitepaper, full of table, illustrations, and extensive references, is worth reading if you are:
  1. A nerd or geek like me
  2. Ever wondered how this satellite Internet thing worked
  3. Have an interest in computer security
  4. Live in a rural area
  5. Care about the future of rural America
  6. All of the above
Disclaimer: I wrote this paper (all 22 pages of it) in my spare time, as a way to help rural communities like the one in which I live. So there is an agenda in my plugging this white paper, but no financial incentive. RuMBA is a not-for-profit group (and for the moment I'm a fairly unprofitable person).

As I say in the paper, the fact that satellite Internet service works at all is a major technological achievement. I just have a problem with the idea that satellite Internet service is being touted in some quarters as a way to provide rural communities with access to broadband.

I don't want to give anything away, because I really do want people to read this paper, but satellite Internet is not and can never be a substitute for proper broadband service. By "proper broadband service" I mean something that can support a data center or at least deliver a high-availability, low-latency, uncapped connection at speeds of more than 10Mbps.

Satellite might have a role to play as the connection of last resort for people living in truly remote areas far from paved roads and other infrastructure, but I see no good reason why homes and businesses that already have telephone service should not also have broadband connectivity. For example, it makes no sense to me that a village on a state highway less than 50 miles from the capital of New York should not have broadband, especially when it is just a few miles from the nearest broadband connection point and already has a fiber optic cable running right through it. And there are hundreds of examples like this.

As a technologist who also pays taxes I am also very concerned that the federal government has seen fit to give tens of millions of dollars of broadband stimulus money to satellite companies who clearly, according to the definitive and categorical conclusions of this 22-page report, do not deliver broadband.

If you agree with me that broadband access is important for farming families and the people who live in rural areas to support them (doctors, nurses, teachers, merchants, and so on) then please bear in mind that things are only going to get worse if we don't act now to deliver genuine broadband to these folks. Every metric out there points to a coming boom in Internet video and other rick media as a way of interacting with consumers, businesses, schools, and healthcare providers. If communities are hurting right now because they only have dialup or satellite, and I believe they are, there are really going to be hurting a year or two from now.

For example, a Cisco report last October indicated that the average traffic over a broadband connection increased 31% in the previous 12 months, generating 14.9 gigabytes of Internet traffic a month. If that trend continues, and a recovering economy strongly suggests it will, the average traffic number will reach 20 gigabytes a month by the end of this year, way more than most satellite Internet users are allowed (without substantial added cost or inconvenience).

BTW, there is a lot of information on this subject over at the Rural Mobile and Broadband Alliance website. I encourage you to check it out. You may also want to follow RuMBA's founder @HandemRuMBA on Twitter and tune in to the Rural America Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio