Is It Time For An REA for the Internet

The death of Senator Bryd at the age of 92, had me thinking about the technical advances he saw in his life time. That the fight to get those advances to the most people was being fought then and continues to be fought today. The battleground may have changed, but the arguments often repeat themselves. Today, the battle is over what is the best way to get broadband to the most people. In the 1930’s it was electricity. While 90% of all urban residents had electricity by the 1930’s only 10% of rural residence did. Electric companies of that time said it was too expensive to supply electricity to sparsely populated rural areas, that they could not justify the cost. Rural residents who were lucky enough to have electricity paid rates two times as high as those in urban areas. This was at a time when items such as refrigeration, the radio and the telephone, all which depended on electricity were coming into their own. Without electricity, rural areas were falling further and further behind their urban counter part.

Despite their unwillingness to build in rural areas, utility companies and their supporters fought against any kind of government involvement, They insisted that the free market would take care of the issue. By 1935 it was clear that the free market system was not working and that something had to be done to get electricity to the rural areas. To deal with the problem the Roosevelt administration, created the Rural Electric Administration. The REA supplied incentives in form of loans to private utilities to build the infrastructure to provide electricity in rural areas. In those areas where private companies could not or would not participate, the government encourage the formation of cooperatives which were established to provide electricity for coop members. By law these electric cooperatives could not compete directly against private companies. By the 1950’s nearly all rural areas had electricity either thru cooperatives or private industries.

My question is is it time for something similar to the REA to get high speed Internet or broadband to areas that are not being covered by private industries. Just as electricity was the backbone to much of the innovation of the 20th century, broadband will be the backbone of much of the innovation of the 21st century. As more and more business and communication is done on line, those who have no or slow Internet connection will get left further and further behind. Do we continue to depend on private industry to provide the broadband or do we consider other alternatives similar to the REA. What do you think

GNC-2010-05-21 #577 Live from the Homestead!

Ok had a great visit at Ford Motor Company, videos coming next week but I give you my run-down on the event and my perspective. Show recorded from the kitchen of the home I grew up in. There will be a very special insider for those of you that have signed up to be a insider. For those wanting to meet, there will be a meet-up on 5-22 @ 6pm EST at Applebees in Coldwater Michigan please RSVP. Special version of Geek News Central Insider coming be a Insider!

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Listener Links:
Scientist create Artificial Life.
Viagra may lead to hearing loss?
Seven reasons Android 2.2 Froyo beats the iPhone.
Copy Machines with Hard-Drives.

Show Links:
Google TV 1
Google TV 2
Google TV 3
Google TV 4
Google TV 5
Cuban on Google TV
ISS Battery Replacement.
Russian Module added to ISS.
Facebook sharing our data with Advertisers.
US Regulated to 3rd Word in Broadband Speeds.
Google Versus Amazon S3.
Mars Rovers on the Roll.
Firefox still beating Chrome.
Google WebM to the Rescue.
Steve Jobs thinks WebM Sucks!
Apple selling more iPad than Mac’s!
Google Leapfrog Apple?
Bloggers making FTC Nervous!
Tethering is Carriers choice on Android.\
Seagate to Launch SSD/HD Variant.
Google Froyo versus iTunes.
Clean your Hard-Drives Boys.

Send in your stories to [email protected] and be sure to provide a link to your websites!

A Personal Reality Check for Bandwidth Caps

Over the years of GNC, I’ve heard Todd rail on about broadband bandwidth caps and while I’ve enjoyed his rants, it’s been low priority topic for me.  Why? Because I think I’m a power user with a good selection of podcasts, a fair bit of online TV viewing, some (legal) music downloads. However, in a single month, I have never got anywhere near 50GB.  I think 30-something gigs was the most.

And then came the email from my service provider telling me that if I continued as I was going, I would exceed my bandwidth cap shortly.  Although I wouldn’t be cut-off, daytime bandwidth would be throttled.  I was a bit surprised but when I checked the firewall logs, it was correct – if anything, they were under-measuring by a few GB.

So, looking back, why the surge in data usage?  Well, I’m going to blame Todd and the Tech Podcast Network coverage of CES.  It was so good, I downloaded every single one of the videos, watched a few of them on-line, just couldn’t get enough.  I even downloaded some of the them twice, once for my PC and once for my Palm Pre!

Removing tongue from cheek, yes, it was the coverage of CES that bumped up the stats but it showed me that a bandwidth allocation of 50GB per month doesn’t actually go that far once you start getting into video.

Recently, I’ve also bought an Archos media player that can go online and stream content direct to my TV.  I’ve been pretty impressed by the viewing experience, even with only a wireless connection.  Although I can do the same with my laptop, having a dedicated appliance is far move convenient.

I don’t have any doubt that online distribution of films and TV programmes will take off in a big way, especially when it comes built-in to the TVs.  As an aside, a built-in media player is far more attractive to me than 3-D!  It’s also clear to me now that the telecoms companies are going to have to up their game to cope. If they’re smart, it’s an opportunity to make money and the competition for broadband services in the UK is pretty healthy. 

For consumers like me, it’s time to start looking for deals with caps bigger than 50GB.

British Broadband Tax

In his pre-Budget report, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer has confirmed that there will be a 6 GBP tax on all households with fixed-line phones in order to setup a fund that will be used to ensure that even the uneconomical parts of the UK will get fast fibre connections.

Note for readers – the incumbent UK Government is Labour, who come from a socialist or left-wing background.  The Opposition is the Conservatives (aka Tories), who come from capitalist or right-wing background.  For a good few years, it was hard to tell which policies came from which party but now the economy is down, they’re reverting to type.

While the aims of the Chancellor may be laudable, I think he’s completely wrong to setup a broadband fund.  All it will do is line the telecommunication companies’ pockets and it’s not as if they’re short of a penny.  In each of 2007 and 2008, one of the major British telecoms companies, BT made 2.5bn GBP (before tax) on 20bn GBP.  Ok, things are bit tighter in 2009 so far but they’re still making millions.

If the past 30 years of technological advancement has taught us anything, the pressure on technology to make things smaller, faster or cheaper has come from competitive pressures, not by throwing subsidies or government money at companies.  These companies ought to be trying to figure out how to make the uneconomic parts of the country into economic parts, by delivering more efficiently or delivering differently.

Around 30% of households are believed to be in this uneconomic category but that’s only for fibre connections – the figures (and Government) totally ignore the possibilities of wireless technologies.  Rather than let the best technology win out – and it’s for the market to choose what “best” means – the fund will be used to connect up with fibre whether it’s appropriate or not.

And even if the property is miles from anywhere why not simply charge the customer the true price of bringing fibre to their home.  That’s what happens for electricity – if you choose to build your house two miles from the nearest electricity line, the utility company will bill you the cost to install the cable to your house.  For a non-essential service to be given this kind of subsidy seems bizarre.

And I’m sure an extra side effect will be increasing numbers of people dropping their landlines in favour of mobiles and VoIP.  I’m definitely thinking harder about it – if I didn’t have ADSL broadband I would have done it years ago.

GNC-2009-09-25 #514 Get the show while its Hot!

This is a hot one folks fresh off the hard drive! As usual I have lot of fun in the show and cover a wide swath of tech. The question today is when will the AT&T network crash as the MMS services are turned on. Have you watched the Video of the show? If not I have a link for you in the show notes.

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Listener Links:
FBI does not need Fingerprints anymore?
More UK File Sharing Discussions.

Show Links:
Shuttle makes Safe Return to Florida.
Android Hacker get C&D.
Ballmer admits Windows Mobile 7 Mess up.
Windows 7 Boots in 2 Seconds?
New Fonera Web Device available in US.
Intel 10gbs Home Network.
Blue Mikey!
How much Broadband is enough?
Twitter a 1 Billion dollar evaluation?
Google Apps and Trust.
Scoble how to route around TechCrunch.
Congrats To Scobles on New Baby!
Baby Center!
What is it Freezing or Melting?
Injury Under Reporting?
India Tech Sector hurting as well.
AT&T MMS Crash Coming?
See how Malware sites suck you in.
Windows 7 Easy Upgrade!
Safer Lithium Batteries
** HD Video from Edge of Space!
Google forced to close Gmail Account?
No Source protection for Bloggers!
Sidewiki Useful or Evil?
Intel gets chips to 22nm.
Will you be Killed by Electric Car?
** Symantec shows Dangers of Short URL’s
Google Chrome frame for Internet Explorer.
India puts 7 Sats in orbit.
Sydney in massive dust storm.

GNC-2009-09-04 #508 Podcast Awards Call for Help

For the past 4 years Geek News Central Listeners have helped be the judges for the Podcast Awards. As always we are seeking out nearly 40 volunteers to help us judge the entries. We will need your help in the middle of October. If you can help out please email me at [email protected], sorry no podcasters can participate in the grading process. I have a jammed packed show for you tonight full of all the top tech and science news.

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Show Comments please call 1-619-342-7365 or e-mail [email protected]

Listener Links:
Amazing Article on how New York Times uses Blogs
Shuttle Rainbow
End of a Era
Spaceport Hawaii?
New Jersey Solar Initiatives.
Only in Hawaii hang my head!
Catch Phrases!
Twitter makes German Politicians Mad!
Be careful of that Garage Sale.

Show Links:
Is Basecamp Data Safe?
More App store silliness.
Podcasters don’t get sucked into Unlimited Hype
BackBlaze Pod (Best Article this year for a Geek)
MMS on Sept 25th bet it’s day AT&T gets Crushed?
Sony Walkman #1 in Japan!
Vonage / Dual Sim for iPhone.
Zune HD is Coming!
New Space Radar to track 600,000 objects!
Windows Taskbar for your Mac!
Google Surveys bye bye SurveyMonkey!
Keep your Windows PC Clean
Apache Foundation Hacked!
YouTube turns music back on in UK!
Windows 7 Launch Party!
YouTube to do PayPerView?
Twitter Scores Feedburner CEO
Microsoft Word Sales gets stay of Execution!
The Next 40 years of the Internet?
Patch Tuesday to be big as Ever!
Buy followers on Facebook?
Telcos want Broadband defined to slower speeds?
Men Loose there Minds!
MPAA wants Broadcast Flag rights!
Netflix voluntarily refunded money!

GNC-2009-07-28 #497 Late Night with Todd and Tech News

Late night recording here folks lots of tech as usual ton of email and some voicemail comments as always. Huge thank you to all our sponsors, support them the best you can and be sure to get a free trial to GotoMeeting it will change the way you do business online.

You supporting the Show Sponsors keep the lights on here, Thank You for your Support!
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Listener Links:
Taser can bring down 3 at once!
Apple Tablet and New Business Model!
United Airlines should not have broke his Guitar!
USS Normandy deploys to Atlantic
German Stealth Fighter WWII
Palm Pre Review #1
Palm Pre Review #2
GNC Ringtone get it Now!

Show Topic Notes:
More ads coming to a Movie near you!
Charge a Laptop in 2 Minutes?
Top Movie Torrents for July!
Walk like a Astronaut!
Dumber and Dumber
Vaccine for Colon Cancer Possible!
Do you ignore PC Security Warnings?
AT&T under Attack.
Broadband Speed claims not met!
UK Mars Rover to Launch 2018.
A 6500km wall to contain desert?
Skilled Immigrants Leaving the United States.
Microsoft and Amazon big Losses in Q2
Twitter Site Showdowns and Callouts?
Micorsoft Mobile App will it Matter?
Apple makes Music industry Happy.
Sleep on the ISS and other Info.
Blue Food Dye could stop Paralysis!
Emergency Patch Tuesday Today!
Shuttle / ISS Picture against the Sun.
CO2 Scrubber fixed on ISS!
Wifi for all Verizon Fios/DSL Customers!
Bio Fuel Breakthrough?
Skin Cells to Mice?
Is the AP even relevant?
Power Utility says Solar Customers show pay user Fee?
Google Voice iPhone Apps kicked out of App Store.
Smart Milk Jug
iPhone Image Tricks
New Storage Shelf
Would you share your Myfi connection?
Ten things you did know about Apollo 11
31 Stunning National Geographic Images!
31 Business Ideas for Facebook.
Live Video Streaming Suggestions.
Sprint Pissed off the wrong person!
Teens in Tech Critcized.

GNC-2009-06-12 #485 On the Road again

This will be like the US Tour de Todd as I will be all over the place over the next week. No meetups as I will have little time between each stop. I will have another early live show with hopefully no issues on Monday around 9pm Eastern

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Show Comments please call 1-619-342-7365 or e-mail [email protected]

Show Topic Notes:
Six-Core Intel Nehalem
Zeo’s Sleep Coach
Linux get USB 3.0 Drivers First!
Sharp LED Light
Amazon EC2 Outage Issues.
Virgin Mobile in US to sell Prepaid Mobile Broadband Cards!
Sad Stats on Low Income Broadband Penetration.
Outlook Users can now Sync to Google
Scoble Building43 Info
Get your Facebook Username Saturday at 0000 EST
How to remove Google Penalty.
Microsoft Money R.I.P.
Data Centers Behind the Scenes
Microsoft Anti-Virus Program for free?
Periodic Table to get new Element
Japanese Crash a Spacecraft into the Moon.
Endeavor launch count underway!
Fair Use Defense thrown out in New P2P trial!
UK P2P users largely ignore warning letters!
Class Action Suit against RIAA?
DJ’s Greed lands them in Jail
New Chinese PC’s can be Hacked Easily!
Trojans targeting Mac’s
Doom for your iPhone (I’m in)
Digital TV day of Doom is here :)
Earth to play bumper planets.
Technicians find bad stuff on PC get ready for Jail.
Play Free Poker 😉 watch the fed banking lock down.
Student Programming work can be posted online. (This case may be Unique)
Fake User name in Texas may become Illegal.
Sirius / XM bills going up to pay Artist
Elsevier Reveals more on Fake Journals
DVD Jon gets over on Apple Big Time!
Teen figures out longtime illness on her own!
When your time is up your time is up!

Time Warner Cable in battle to protect their Monopoly!

The stakes could not be in higher now in North Carolina where communities are sick and tired of being sick and tired of paying ridiculous prices for Internet, TV Programming and Telephone services are in a battle to save a local broadband services from being shut down by Time Warner.

Several towns have formed private companies in North Carolina to roll out their own service packages. Not at all surprisingly they are offering some amazing data, television, and telephone services that Time Warner is not happy about.

Wilson, North Carolina asked Time Warner Cable for more bandwidth a lower prices. TWC was unwilling to do so, Wilson, NC invested 28 million dollars to roll there own.


A comparison of services from various providers. The local service, Greenlight, both provides the most affordable bundle option for its speed, and offers an unmatched 100 Mbps option. The success has cable providers trying to outlaw the service. (Source: IndyWeek)

What is ironic here is that every time I have examined a city or town doing this it is a big win for the residents. Even more amazing if you look at the chart. They offer a 100mps symmetrical connection for $300.00 a month.

Almost makes you want to pack up and move your business to the Wilson, NC area.

Here is the kicker Time Warner has used its lobbyist and strong arm tactics to get a bill introduced in the North Carolina legislature that would actually outlaw what the city of Wilson did.

There is a huge battle going in in this state and if you don’t think it could happen in yours you are sadly mistaken. If you are a resident of North Carolina you better pick up the phone today and support Save North Carolina Broadband

Defining “Broadband” and “Underserved”

$7.2 billion in stimulus money has been earmarked by Congress for spending on broadband service and underserved areas. Thus is born a conundrum that is becoming virtually unsolvable.

What exactly does “broadband” mean? According to ATT, it’s anything not dialup. To others, like the Communications Workers of America, it is anything over 3 mb. And since our median “broadband” speed in this country is about 2.3 mb, while Japan boasts an median of 63 mb and Canada about 7.6, what are we truly talking about when we talk about broadband?

And what is meant by “underserved” areas? Is it rural areas with no access to broadband? Or is it broader than that, applying to any area that can’t get 3 mb or more, which includes both urban and suburban areas?

This is what the FCC is trying to figure out, and is open to comments through April 13th. The acting chairman of the FCC, Michael Copps, believes his agency is up to the challenge of defining these terms for the purposes of deploying the stimulus funding. But he notes that President Obama’s long-term goal is to get broadband deployed deep into the country, which could place rural deployment of broadband at the top of the list.

I’m all for that, since I’ve been craving a move to the country for some time. But I also want to see fatter pipes, to the tune of at least 10 mb, if not more. I realize I’m very blessed at this moment to have a realistic 8 mps down and 3 mb up on a regular basis, but I’m living in an area where the majority of people are using dialup, and if I were to move even one more mile further away from the main metro area, I would lose any type of broadband altogether. I’m also one of those that believes true broadband (I subscribe to the better-than-3mb club) should be a basic utility, just like gas, electric, and phone service. To me, it is no different.

You can submit your own comments to the FCC, through April 13th, on this important determination. Visit for more information, or take this link to go directly to the comment instructions (PDF file).