Business & Finance
Commentary
9/22/2006
12:21 PM
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Broadband On A Budget

In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Broadband On A Budget
2. Today's Top Story
    - Democrat Wants HP CEO To Testify On Leak Scandal
    Related Story:
    - UPDATE: California AG Says HP Investigation Ongoing
3. Breaking News
    - Mobile Phone Industry Aims To Reduce Pollution
    - AOL Redesigns Search Page
    - Mac Virtual Machine Update Runs Vista
    - Yahoo Confirms Flaming Laptop On Campus
    - 'Hactivism' Group Launches Anonymous Browser
    - Amazon Gives Ex-Microsoft Exec $12.8 Million Incentive
    - Nasdaq Launches Delisting Proceedings Against Dell
    - FCC Chairman Martin Favors Dropping Wi-Fi Ban At Boston Airport
    - Industry Renews Call To Study Nanotechnology Risks
    - Aussies Seek Software Developers
    - U.S. Government Names New Interim Health IT Czar
    - Symantec Prepares For Shift To "Security 2.0"
4. Grab Bag
    - More Pentium 4 Price Cuts Coming (Ars Technica)
    - Some Hot Recorders For Those Cool Podcasts (NY Times)
    - A Laptop At Every Desk (BusinessWeek)
5. In Depth
    - Product Review: Wide-Screens Appeal To Multimedia, Business
    - Miniature Storage Arrays Deliver Space-Saving Punch
    - Review: Ajax's Hidden Security Threat And How To Fix It
    - Product Review: AppWorx Enables Smoother Processing Of Business Apps
6. Voice Of Authority
    - Do-It-Yourself Security Token
7. White Papers
    - Using A Hybrid/Self-Service Approach To Reduce Computer Maintenance Expense
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote of the day:
"Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards." -- Aldous Huxley



1. Editor's Note: Broadband On A Budget

High-speed broadband has finally overtaken dial-up Internet access. According to a recent report by JD Power and Associates, 56% of residential ISP customers are now using broadband connections for applications such as Googling for the latest on Cameron Diaz, viewing online videos, and blogging about their pet dogs' latest tricks.

Actually, I'm surprised that the number is so low. Judging from the number of tech toys that are planned for the coming holiday season—and the hopes that many vendors are pinning on a 2006 buying frenzy—it's clear that vendors expect that anyone who can afford a computer is, or should be, on something better than dial-up. But there are still many people who can't afford, or feel they can't afford, anything more than dial-up—and yet would in the end spend less money with a broadband connection than they're now spending on dial-up.

For example, consumer VoIP services such as Skype still offer free phone services over the Internet—at least, to other Skype users and (until the end of the year) to landline and mobile phones within the United States and Canada. That alone is a huge savings.

High-speed connectivity also saves time on research, allows access to free applications such as Zoho Writer and Gmail, and increases communications abilities by allowing immediate access to e-mail and instant messaging (so you can, for example, get right back to that HR person the moment he or she expresses an interest in your resume). The list is a long one.

Many longtime dial-up users still have the impression that dial-up is less expensive than broadband. In most cases, it isn't. In my area, for example, Verizon Wireless is offering speeds of up to 3.0 Mbps for $30 a month; a slower connection, up to 768 Kbps, can be had for $15 a month. This is equal to or better than the cost of a typical dial-up connection (I recently spoke to somebody who was still paying about $35 a month for their dial-up.) There are some costs involved in the initial purchase, of course, but recalcitrants have to be convinced of the long-term gain.

However, let's be realistic. Many of the remaining 44% of dial-up users are households that can't afford a broadband connection because it's hard enough for them to afford the rent each month and to keep the kids properly dressed and fed. The people in these circumstances—and especially the children—are quickly falling away from the kind of services and information that keeps the rest of us in the swim of the American mainstream. Want to find a job? Use the Internet. Teacher wants research done? Find it on the Internet. Need to find car insurance? A doctor? The nearest Legal Aid office? All the information you need is immediately at your fingertips—on the Internet.

A persistent connection to the Internet—and we're still talking broadband here—is vital if the children of these families are going to have a fair chance to compete in the classroom—and later, in the world at large. While some can find access to computers and the Internet through school programs, public libraries, and other facilities, that still puts these people way behind those of us who can sit down any time and immediately have access to the huge number of resources available online.

There are many solutions in the pipelines to provide high-speed Internet access to low-income people. Several companies are developing inexpensive computers, and many cities are working on free Wi-Fi zones. Several of these zones are working today. But time is of the essence, and we need to look to the IT community for innovative ideas that can address this issue. After all, we can't expect young people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps if they're walking around in their socks.

What do you think? Are there other ways to bring computing and the Internet to people who don't yet have access? Or do you think it's totally up to them to find their way to the digital dimension? Let me know at my blog post.

Barbara Krasnoff
bkrasnoff@cmp.com
www.informationweek.com


2. Today's Top Story

Democrat Wants HP CEO To Testify On Leak Scandal
Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, on the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee looking into the media leak scandal, said there's some evidence that HP chief Mark Hurd "knew what was going on."

Related Stories:

UPDATE: California AG Says HP Investigation Ongoing
The California attorney general says he doesn't yet know whom to indict, one week after his office said it could file charges against individuals in HP, as well as outside contractors, within a week.


3. Breaking News

Mobile Phone Industry Aims To Reduce Pollution
The group has agreed to reduce energy consumption, stop using some hazardous materials, increase the number of phones collected through take-back schemes and recycled, and give consumers more environmental information about products.

AOL Redesigns Search Page
On the left-hand side of text results, AOL added links to other content, such as video or audio. Clicking on the link provides a new list of results focused on the chosen content.

Mac Virtual Machine Update Runs Vista
Enhancements to Parallels Desktop for Mac include support for the recently released multiprocessor Mac Pro tower, equipped with 3.5 Gbytes of RAM, as well as the developer build of Mac OS X 10.5, code-named Leopard.

Yahoo Confirms Flaming Laptop On Campus
A spokeswoman declined to give details, but confirmed in an e-mail sent late Wednesday that a laptop caught fire in the company's California offices.

'Hactivism' Group Launches Anonymous Browser
Dubbed "Torpark" and based on a portable version of Firefox 1.5.0.7, the browser will run from a USB drive so that it leaves no installation tracks on the PC.

Amazon Gives Ex-Microsoft Exec $12.8 Million Incentive
A stock award gives 400,000 shares to Brian Valentine, who just prior to leaving Microsoft had headed Windows Vista development.

Nasdaq Launches Delisting Proceedings Against Dell
Dell has requested a hearing before the Nasdaq Listing Qualifications Panel, which stays proceedings against the company until the panel makes a decision. In the meantime, trading on Dell stock continues.

FCC Chairman Martin Favors Dropping Wi-Fi Ban At Boston Airport
Martin reportedly wants to allow Continental Airlines and other Wi-Fi providers—both actual and potential—to use their own Wi-Fi services at Logan.

Industry Renews Call To Study Nanotechnology Risks
Some are concerned that the expected growth in nanotechnology could be stunted by concerns over environmental and safety factors.

Aussies Seek Software Developers
Applicants with expertise in certain tech categories, including Java, C++, and Oracle, are fast-tracked into the country and given bonus rewards, according to the Australian Visa Bureau.

U.S. Government Names New Interim Health IT Czar
The national coordinator of health IT is a sub-cabinet position that was created by executive order in 2004 by President Bush. That year, Bush also set out the goal for most Americans to have electronic health records by 2014.

Symantec Prepares For Shift To "Security 2.0"
Symantec will venture into the areas of system availability and performance management, CTO Mark Bregman says.

All Our Latest News


----- The latest research, polls, and tools -----

The Challenges of VoIP
Learn the three most cited challenges companies face when installing VoIP beyond the pilot stage in this recent report by InformationWeek Research. Use this report to streamline your organization's VoIP strategies and examine how security concerns may affect your deployment.

New From InformationWeek: Get Your News In A Flash—Literally
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4. Grab Bag

More Pentium 4 Price Cuts Coming (Ars Technica)
With the introduction and successful reception of the Core and Core Duo lineup, the Pentium 4's status as an evolutionary dead end has become ever more glaring.

Some Hot Recorders For Those Cool Podcasts (NY Times)
Forget tape or discs. These models use the type of flash memory found in digital cameras.

A Laptop At Every Desk (BusinessWeek)
As more school districts seek to equip each student with a computer, Apple, Dell, and other makers vie for the lucrative contracts.


5. In Depth: Product Reviews

Product Review: Wide-Screens Appeal To Multimedia, Business
Wide-screen computer displays are becoming more popular because they're better suited for certain business applications and for multimedia and entertainment purposes. We look at two new wide-screen displays, one from Philips and one from ViewSonic.

Miniature Storage Arrays Deliver Space-Saving Punch
You might think storage using miniature drive cages isn't fast enough and has insufficient capacity to be practical. But you'd be wrong, says columnist Eric Hall.

Clean Up Ajax Security Problems: A Comparative Review
These solutions can help developers mitigate the vulnerabilities posed by Ajax-based Web applications.

Product Review: AppWorx Enables Smoother Processing Of Business Apps
Scripting large jobs is very expensive because it requires scripting experts, developers, and operators to determine the execution paths. We reviewed AppWorx's job scheduling software, which is designed to reduce scripting complexity.


6. Voice Of Authority

Do-It-Yourself Security Token
Your PC's been pinched, you've lost your laptop, and some nitwit made off with your notebook while you were tying your shoes after getting the Magic Wand treatment at airport security. You're screwed.


7. White Papers

Using A Hybrid/Self-Service Approach To Reduce Computer Maintenance Expense
Harried CIOs can reduce support costs by using a hybrid approach that reduces reliance on technology vendors by combining specialist third-party services with in-house staff to control costs.


8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek

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