The Internet is a Utility

Router and CablesLast week, I moved to a new Internet Service Provider (ISP). Nothing particularly unusual about that except that I had been with my old ISP, Demon, for nearly twenty years. That’s almost the whole of the my adult life and I’m sure it’s the longest customer relationship I’ve had. To be quite clear, I didn’t leave Demon as a dissatisfied customer and on the contrary, I would recommend them to anyone. So why did I leave?

To answer that, we’ll have to take a little trip down memory lane. Back in the early 90s, the 486DX2 was the CPU of choice, 8 MB was a lot of RAM, 120 MB hard drives were huge and dial-up modems were specialist items. JANET, the UK’s university network was the closest thing to the Internet, and it was email, ftp, telnet, Usenet and gopher. I imagine that some readers will be thinking, “gopher?” Never heard of that.

In 1992 and in an early example of crowdsourcing, Demon ISP was setup by persuading 200 people to pay in advance for a year’s dial-up access. I wasn’t part of that group but after publicity in the leading UK computer magazine at the time, Personal Computer World, I signed up for their £10 a month dial-up service. You had to buy your own modem in those days – no freebie wireless router – but it came with unlimited email addresses, 10 MB of ftp space and Usenet newsgroups.

Demon provided their own email package called Turnpike as this was all pre-Outlook, and a certain level of skill was needed just to get on-line. The connection software was a command line program called KA9Q that was originally amateur radio software. Winsock fortunately arrived shortly afterwards, which made life considerably easier with Windows 3.

One of the great things about Demon in the early days was that the support staff were technical folk too and quickly got the measure of the caller. If you said to them that you were having problems with DNS resolving, they’d understand that you had a reasonable grasp of the problem and work with you, rather than blindly follow the procedure written in the training manual.

Since then there have been many changes in the world of technology, not least the arrival of ADSL broadband, which single-handedly changed the web from geek toy to consumer product. In the end, two things conspired against Demon. The first was free web email such Gmail and Hotmail which meant that I no longer needed my ISP to provide me with an email address. The second was video-on-demand which had the twin impacts of volume and speed. My new ISP, Sky, offers twice the speed of Demon and no data caps for less money. Bit of a no brainer, as they say.

Demon provided a great technical service for geeks 20 years ago, but as the web has become a consumer product, the need for technical features such as ftp space has faded. All that is needed is the connection. The Internet has become a utility like water, gas and electricity, always there and always ready. No understanding of the technology is needed to use it, just as turning on a light doesn’t need knowledge of volts and amps.

I’ve no doubt that Demon has a successful future working with business but I think that the future of the independent ISP in the consumer space is bleak. People will choose consumer brands linked to utilities or telcos – Sky, BT, Virgin, Orange – and get one bill for multiple services at a reduced price…as I did.

Routers and Cables 2” image courtesy of BigStock.

Three Reports Jump In Data

Three LogoSqueezing among all the CES news, UK mobile telco Three reports a huge jump in smartphone data over the past year. On New Year’s Eve, smartphone traffic was up nearly 600% in the UK compared with the same evening a year before. On 31st December 2010, 14 TB of data was transmitted.  For the same date in 2011, it was 80 TB.

A similar pattern emerged on New Year’s day, with 74 TB in 2012, compared with 14 TB in 2011. Facebook seems to have become the place for New Year’s wishes with a 20% rise in traffic between midnight and 1am.

I sometimes think people should look up from their phones a bit more often. Now I know I’m right!

GNC-2009-11-24 #530 Lots of Action on this Show!

I had lot’s of fun on this show.. Pile of things to cover. I am headed to Texas next week so will be taking the show on the road. I will be doing a Thanksgiving evening show so if your full of Turkey and still awake, I will try and knock out a show earlier in the evening Hawaii time. Drive safe and have a great holiday! Your trials of our sponsors products and feedback is greatly appreciated.

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Show Notes:
We are still here no big bang!
How GotoMyPC saved me last week!
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Serious iPhone worm for Jailbroken handsets!
Apple Exec makes excuses for iPhone App Store Process.
Is Apple Evil or Not?
Spotify no works on Symbian Phones.
Firefox and Mozilla Foundation appear to be doing good.
Roku adds Limited content from Select Partners?
Apple deals now and on Friday!
Windows 8 Roadmap.
Telcos mad at Harvard Berkman Center?
1000 Mph Speed Attempt!
Is Adobe doing enough about Security?
The Evil Empire Strikes back at Verizon :)
Man Not in Coma just Paralyzed for 23 years!
Prepare for Cyber Monday.
New PogoPlug!
AOL had some kids in for new Logo Design.
Windows 7 Security!
Intel I9 Six Cores
Drobo Goes Enterprise.
Apple makes Single Use Monitor?
ISS work goes Great!
Bing to buy Fox Traffic?
This is what I want for Christmas (Not).
AT&T Data Connect Day Pass!
Radiation repairs eyes in Blind!
Target Black Friday Ad.
Newegg Black Friday Ad.
Walmart Black Friday Ad.
Sewell Display Link Adapter good Reviews.
Altona Wireless VGA.
New Sony Pro XDCAM
Full or Partial feeds you be the Judge.
Browser Compatibility Web testers.
Chrome Extensions Coming Soon!
New Facebook Worm!
Wikipedia Loosing Free Help.
What are you doing with Ssesmic?
Smoking Voids Apple Warranty!
Gmail Creator says email not going anywhere soon.
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