A modern environment's need for broadband

February 2, 2007

I have an embarrassing confession: my home Internet connection is still a dialup 28.8Kbps PPP link. (Back when I first set it up, this was only slightly behind the times, as 33.3Kbps modems had just come out.)

For a long time this was fine, because all I really did with it was text-based stuff, mostly sshing to my machines at the university; while I did do some web surfing, pretty much all of the sites I visited regularly were mostly text. As time went by, along with webcomics and streaming Internet radio and big PDFs and so on, things got more awkward. But I could still make do, and I'm both stubborn and lazy so I stuck with my PPP link.

(I run both ends of my PPP link myself, so it does exactly what I want it to. This matters a lot. Also I can defer bandwidth consuming things until I'm at my office machine.)

Then recently I moved to a modern Linux version with a wide package selection that got frequent updates (ie, Fedora Core 6), and it rapidly became obvious that dialup just doesn't cut it any more. Modern environments really need broadband; there are just so many things that assume you have abundant bandwidth.

(Fedora is particularly bad, because the index files yum downloads are over a megabyte per repository. This makes 'yum check-updates' one of those things that I have to plan ahead of time.)

I can limp along for now, using various baroque coping strategies, but it's clear that broadband is in my future (and no later than Fedora Core 7; I don't want to think about trying to upgrade without it). And you just can't experiment with the huge package selection in Fedora Extras over a dialup link, which is no fun.

(Due to local circumstances, broadband for me means DSL, which means I have to pick which local DSL provider I want to deal with, since the local pseudo-monopoly provider is not suitable as they have recently introduced a (relatively low) monthly transfer cap for new customers. Which is a massive headache, since there are so many choices and options and whatnot.)

Comments on this page:

From at 2007-02-05 16:49:46:

It's really surprising to hear that you still have that. I kind of thought that everyone in the country had cable now.

By cks at 2007-02-11 12:36:43:

Some Googling suggests that about 20% to 25% of the Internet users in the US and Canada are still using 'narrowband' Internet access at home. (It's a bit hard to find useful current numbers; most of them come from market research companies that want you to pay for the good stuff.)

I don't know how much of that 'narrowband' is true dialup and how much of it is low-speed DSL, though.

Written on 02 February 2007.
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