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Hard-Copy Journal

March 2000, Volume 16, Number 3

By Norm Gibonsl

Would You Want DSL Enough to Broad Jump into Broadband?

This is a story about new software, DSL dreams, and how to make broadband work for you. My sources are the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) pages B6 and B8, for Thursday, 02/03/00, and the 02/04/00 E-Mail update from updates@zdemail.zdlists.com, Updates Weekly Newsletter February 3, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 5 from http://www.updates.com.

The Editor-in-chief of Updates, Jim Tyminski, wrote in his editorial about his dream of DSL. He decided to go broadband. That means DSL to Jim and to most of us. A moment of reality set in when Jim discovered that he could not, may never, have DSL at his home. Apparently Long Island, NY, like many other residential locations, has DSL-dead areas. He wrote that broadband access to his home is not available, that his is one of the few areas in Long Island, NY where these services were not provided.

The editor of Updates continued, saying that DSL may never be available in his part of Long Island, NY. The nearest central office is too far away from his home, and that there appears to be a maximum distance from “...one of these buildings in order to get DSL. And the farther away you are from one of these temples of speed, the slower the connection.”

Mr.Tyminski says he has explored alternative ways to achieve higher internet speeds. “Satellite came up in a conversation, but the upload speed is still only 56k.”

This was an eye-opener for me. Gullible me, good old Norm, I thought that satellite service would be faster than 56K. My ignorance conjured satellite speeds of T1 magnitude, fast enough for government work, as they say. Nor did I imagine that DSL would be effective only in high density telecommunication traffic areas. Are the Illinois towns of Mt. Morris, Gurnee, Romeoville, Sycamore, and Des Plaines, all dense enough for residential DSL?

Others have had experiences like Editor Jim Tyminski. A Wall Street Journal article, 02/04/00, page B6, tells about C. Scott Frisbie and his dream home in California. “He told realtors he would only buy a house in a community that had DSL Internet access.” Then he discovered that his high-speed DSL line “...often slows if more people are on the same system.” This experience has no happy ending.

Some readers may doubt these notes about satellite communication speeds. Here’s some info I received through AOL Personal Finance stock data: “(Westbury, NY, Feb 4, PRNewswire) DCS Marine Data offers” “...a high-speed, 64Kbps communication link via COMSAT's Inmarsat-B satellite,...” So we may conclude that satellite communications today have an upper limit of 64K bps ((if that high).

And about stock market opportunities: “ANNAPOLIS, Md. Seth Hettena, AP-NY-01-28-00 2001EST. . .” Lockheed may acquire an additional share in Comsat. You win some and you lose some. My meager stock market experience suggests a wait-and-see attitude.

Wheels within wheels! Remember the song about how the hip-bone is connected to the ankle-bone?

Now we all know that adversity is another word for opportunity. Kip McClanahan and Kenny Van Zant, College roommates, have started BroadJump, Inc., according to the Wall Street Journal, 02/04/00, page B8, “BroadJump Speeds ‘Broadband’ Installations,” by Gary McWilliams. This business recognizes the complexities of DSL installation. Where the service (DSL) is available, installers are faced with a two-step, time-consuming process for DSL installation. “A key problem: Installations typically required dispatching one technician to test and tune the high speed lines, then sending out another [tech] to set up a customer’s personal computer.”

So BroadJump started supplying software for managing DSL installations. Their first program “...allows homeowners to configure their own PCs for broadband services.” Then they “...developed a program for the customer’s PC that provides a two-way link with service providers.”

Phone and cable companies can’t keep up with demand, and appear hungry for the BroadJump software. Increases of productivity due to BroadJump software on the order of five times have been reported, according to the WSJ article. Installation costs have dropped by $80 in the Austin, Texas, area. BroadJump expects sales of $10,000,000 for year 2000.

BroadJump’s opportunity grew out of “the stiff competition between telephone and cable companies to sign up new customers for their lucrative high-speed services, which cost $30 to $50 a month.” This market is expected to reach 44 million subscribers by 2003.

But BroadJump’s success is contagious. Many of the telecommunication players have the in-house talent and the profit ambitions to launch competing software. This is a game where all your energy may be enough only to keep you on your feet. BroadJump is trying “to win over local operators unwilling to wait for their service partners to deliver the goods.” The WSJ article suggests that BroadJump may seek to partner with a large cable company.

Business means you look at all possibilities. New areas of software are being planned. BroadJump saves local providers as much as $400 a customer, according to this WSJ article.

Here’s another opportunity. We need two new entrepreneurs, college roommates or not, who will figure out how to keep DSL speed up in a high-density area when too many users are concurrently active. Oh, yes, and a way to supply DSL (or another discipline of reasonable speed) to our isolated editor in Long Island, and our executive in California. What will we call high-speed access in the year 2030? Not DSL surely, and probably not LSD. (Timothy Leary would tell you in the 1970s, that LSD is Lycergic Acid for drug highs, but you and I know that LSD is DSL spelled backwards). #

Norman Gibons, B.S. Math (1966), B.A. English (1999), is a retired Computer programmer, a teacher, a public speaker, the originator of the © Comedy Seminar, and an entertaining storyteller to children and adults. Gibons also writes imaginative fiction, has been a CCS SIG leader, and is a leader of writing groups. You can E-Mail Norm at NGibons@aol.com. :

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