You have the right to broadband

John C. Tanner
17 Nov 2009

Still, it's becoming increasingly clear that broadband users are starting to expect more bang for their buck. Two months ago, a South African company decided to call attention to the dismal 1-Mbps ADSL speeds from government-owned incumbent telco Telkom SA via a publicity stunt based on an old IETF April Fool's Day joke called IP over Avian Carriers (IPoAC). In essence, the company hired a carrier pigeon to carry a 4-GB micro-SD card from a branch office in Howick to its head office 70 km away, while the same data was uploaded to the same location via ADSL.

The pigeon won handsomely.

Granted, ADSL uplink speeds in any market aren't stellar, and if the benchmark had been latency - or if the pigeon had had to fly to Beijing - the results would have been different. But the real point of the whole exercise was to complain that South African broadband delivers very little speed for the price.

All of which is why Finland's 1-Mbps seems piddly to me. If we're going to declare broadband a legal right, and we're going to set a benchmark at where that legal right starts, surely we can do better than a speed that, with today's web, might as well be dial-up.


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