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The May 23, 2005 Issue Provided by System Dynamics Inc.
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Briefly Noted: Updates, Observations and Trends

Each month, we collect miscellaneous happenings, studies, trends or observations that you might have missed. This month we feature a study on broadband usage reflecting "media meshing," some thoughts on the emergence of the "prosumer," some broadband statistics and much more.

Media Meshing

Yahoo! and Mediaedge:cia have released a study done by Forrester on broadband usage and behavior patterns. The study finds that users of high-speed Internet do not consequently use less of other media. According to the study, 64% of broadband users watch TV or read magazines or newspapers while online, and 71% of high-speed wireless broadband users do the same. They conclude that old and new media are "meshing" to provide a fuller, richer experience. ( ) ( ) ( )

The "Prosumer" Has Arrived

In the early days of online services, people discussed the potential for the emergence of the "prosumer": consumers who are also producers of digital content for their own use and for others. Many people now use Weblogs to publish content on the web and reach an audience.

Today's prosumer is moving from text-based content into multimedia. "Prosumer" digital cameras and camcorders provide many features of professional models at a price somewhat above consumer models.

A recent Google announcement ties into this trend. Aspiring video prosumers are invited to sign up for the beta Google Video Upload Program, an experiment in "video blogging." Then "pending our approval process and the launch of this new service, we'll include your video in Google Video, where users will be able to search, preview, purchase and play it." Contributors are asked to add metadata about their video to help users search for and find it. This will be based on technology Google is already using to search and catalog programs on PBS, Fox and others.

Other companies are taking note of this trend. At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show, Verizon Communications CEO Ivan Seidenberg asked for broadcasters' help in getting content. He went on to say that such cooperation is vital to everyone's reinventing themselves in a digital age where technology has turned "consumers into broadcasters and everyday life into reality TV."

More on the Muni Wi-Fi Story

There has been a lot of fallout from the media attention focused on Wi-Fi projects like the one in Philadelphia. Leaders in other cities have felt pressure to tell their citizens what their plans are. Recently, Minneapolis unveiled their plan to launch a privately-owned municipal WiFi network, estimated to cost $15 to $20 million to build and offering data service at speeds from 1 to 3 Mbps. City officials expect to sign contracts later this year, and have service start about 12 months after the contracts area awarded.

The telcos have not been happy about this turn of events and have encouraged state legislation to limit municipal Wi-Fi. A bill has been moving through the Colorado legislature which, if passed, would make it difficult if not impossible for municipalities to provide broadband to their residents. Variants of the Colorado ban have been passed in more than a dozen states.

Now some industry and public advocacy groups are rallying against these moves by state legislators. For example, the Media Access Project (MAP); the Consumer Federation of America (CFA); and Free Press, have made public reports, studies and papers supporting municipally-sponsored and joint-ventured broadband access. These documents focus on rebuffing arguments asserting that such government efforts are economic failures.

The story is far from over. Stay tuned for the next act.

ITU Statistics on Broadband Penetration

The most recent International Telecommunication Union (ITU) statistics on broadband penetration by country have been published. They indicate that the top three are (in order) Korea, Hong Kong and the Netherlands. The U.S. has dropped from 13th place to 16th, with France and the UK following just after. ( )

US Fiber's Growth

Render Vanderslice and Associates released new statistics, indicating that the number of homes passed by FTTH in North America topped 1.6 million in April, an increase of more than eight times the 189,000 reported in March 2004. The number of US communities where residents receive FTTH service grew 83% since October 2004, according to Fiber Optic Communities of the United States (FOCUS). Service providers range from large incumbents like Verizon, to municipalities like Jackson TN and CLECs like SureWest Communications. Despite this growth in North America, other countries including Japan are still ahead. ( ) ( )

Broadband Video at 35,000 Feet

Singapore Airlines is scheduled to begin delivering in-flight IP video to viewer's laptops, using the Connexion by Boeing satellite-based in-flight broadband service. The Connexion service costs $30. It is not clear whether there will be an additional charge for the IP video service, which initially will include the English-language version of EuroNews, content from BBC World, Eurosportnews, CNBC and MSNBC. ( )

Wi-Fi Too Slow?

If your Wi-Fi is too slow, check out WiFi Speed Spray --but keep your sense of humor ready!