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Dave Burstein does a virtuoso interview on the near-term developments in cable, DSL broadband performance over at BroadbandReports.com: Karl Bode interviews the veteran broadband analyst Burstein about the major telcos and cable companies' deployments. Burstein explains how VDSL2 isn't really much faster in its first version than ADSL2+, how fiber will reach millions of homes, and how many of us will still be stuck with speeds not much faster than today for some time.
It's pretty clear from his coverage of the field, that a subset of U.S. homes will be able to get much faster speeds -- 10 to 20 times faster than the average speeds available today -- through cable or DSL. But it's only a subset and it will probably be uneven.
Many of the fastest DSL speeds require fiber to the neighborhood and then higher-speed DSL variants that work over just 500 to 1,000 feet. On the cable side, as we've written here months ago, DOCSIS 3.0's deployment probably starting next year will bring much larger pools of bandwidth making 20 to 30 Mbps service downstream to the home more widely available on those systems.
Burstein isn't a wireless expert, and, unlike so many others, says so. But he thinks that the current speeds for WiMax and other variants aren't enough to impress once the wireline speeds start ramping up. And he's right. WiMax has to hit sub-T3 speeds (5 to 20 Mbps) to be truly useful, and it's becoming clear that those speeds will only be available across a mile or two.
Connecting to multiple hotspots can be cumbersome for users: Part of the problem is that practically everyone along the value chain wants to deliver an easy user interface because that's one place they can differentiate their products from the competitors. But right now chip makers, product vendors, software developers like Microsoft, and hotspot service providers have all developed user interfaces aimed at making it easy for users to get on. Either they all need to get together on developing a single, easy way for users to get connected or one of them needs to make the perfect solution that everyone will naturally gravitate toward. Until then, users will be faced with so many "easy" tools for getting connected that they'll continue to be confused.
Nice introduction to Wi-Fi in the LA Times (free registration req.): The article walks through the basics, dispenses with meaningless terminology handily, and addresses how to get set up. The RealVideo on setting up Wi-Fi is friendly as well, as is the PDF graphic.