presumably 1080p class streaming on some titles.
presumably 1080p class streaming on some titles.
Results for last year - nearly $275M collected...
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Most people who use desktop video conferencing don't pay any attention to audio or video quality. (I can't say I'm careful, but I know better). There are any number of things you can do for audio quality (a good podcasting microphone or better can be had for $100 or so), but video quality often comes down to lighting.
Here is a DIY on the cheap project using $26 worth of kit ...
There are a number of problems with this - it is over all service plans and includes home links to the end user computer (usually wifi), but Netflix believes this more or less averages out and the relative ranks are meaningful. I've seen several more detailed studies and the relative ranking isn't too much of a surprise.
Of course the rub is you can rarely get more than two providers in any region and sometimes it is one or even none ... But if you are thinking of switching ISPs it may make sense to see if there are big differences between those you have available.
This sort of testing should be encouraged and at a level where direct numerical realistic performance characteristics are measured. It would be a useful tool for competition. And, of course, it makes sense to do this internationally.
A correspondent notes that Netflix requires at least 2 megabits per second for standard definition movies to play without long pauses for buffering - so if your ISP is not better than that, the quality of your experience will suffer. It is embarrassing to see so many numbers this low.
I'm sure this will be met with comments suggesting Netflix isn't measuring properly, but let's have some transparency and have proper regular monthly measurements for all of the providers in all of their regions.
Perhaps this is the only way we get service improvements.
Mobile service in the US is handled by a small group of providers that are an effective oligopoly. They bundle services including voice, text messaging and a connection to the Internet (and a few others). These are marketed in bundles, the components of which do not necessarily directly relate to the cost of providing the service. Over time the components of the larger bundle are shifted around to reflect the current state of marketing.
Text messaging, by itself, is enormously profitable. But people value it and pay what seems like a huge amount of money given the amount of data exchanged (over $1,000 per megabyte in some cases), but the pricing is an artificial number and just one of the components of the bucket. It is possible to avoid most or all of your carrier's text messages by using Apple's iMessage service, WhatApp, or any of a number of free services that use the Internet connection of the phone for the link.
Some of these third party messaging apps are much more flexible than conventional text messaging and in some parts of the world are becoming common. As they become more common in the US, rest assured the carriers will readjust the bundles in their offered service plans to preserve their profits.
WhatsApp is interesting as it caught Firms like Facebook sleeping. Facebook didn't offer a competing service, while WhatsApp has grown to nearly a quarter of a billion mobile users in a few years - capturing users Facebook and others would have loved to have.
We'll be moving into more of a world where voice is carried over the Internet and the need for regular phone service will begin to fade. The carriers will make an adjustment for that too. It is too bad you can't buy individual services - just as it is too bad you can't unbundle your cable service. These marketing devices exist to protect some very high profits and, rest assured, if unbundling was forced, the component prices would be very high - largely due to nature of oligopoly. I'd be in favor of making carriers offer nothing but an Internet connection and a conventional dial tone service -- but to make that work you'd need real competiion and the bar for doing that is too expensive in infrastructure as well as in Congress. (although some work-arounds are emerging) Part of the problem is artifical $pectrum $carcity and there are ways around that with time and some change of thinking among the regulators. I'm not terribly optimistic.
In the meantime you can enjoy a bit of arbitrage and ditch your text messaging plan.
I'm a friend and fan of Susan Crawford - some of the more sensible thinking on bandwidth policy (even if getting from here to there is messy). Sadly I have almost no hope that we'll move in a good direction,
A recent piece of her's appeared in Wired. (she references a paper by Diffraction Analysis - worth the read .. I know those guys and they do good work)
But the most important step New Zealand took was reducing the risk of up-front investment in fiber networks by financing the building of basic networks itself. The final connections to homes are built by private partners, who then buy back the basic network those homes connect to. As the government’s investment is returned, it can then invest released funds in additional infrastructure – all while stimulating private investment. The New Zealand government has also set wholesale pricing for fiber so it’s attractive for people to move from copper to fiber connectivity, and lots of retail fiber providers are showing up. The result: Very fast adoption of competitive fiber-to-the-home.
Similarly, if we wanted ultra-high-speed connectivity in the U.S., we could:
Most fundamentally, America should be planning for this communications utility in the same way we plan for water and electricity – ensuring that conduit is everywhere. With a functioning wholesale marketplace, competitive retail providers could keep us from being stuck with operators that can harvest additional revenues solely because of their physical market power over basic pipes and wires (think Comcast making 95% margins on its broadband product).
Found on the BBC R&D blog ... comments on a small internet of playthings get-together and apparently one of their foci.
This is an area where amateurs are likely to add a lot. I was involved in some of those efforts in the 90s and it appeared to be one of those areas that was just waiting for the right training wheels to make it easy for people who have ideas, but perhaps not an extremely strong tech background. One of those areas where a lot of cross fertilization, connecting the dots and play is required.
I'm not particularly happy with my choice of wireless providers as there is no LTE in my area and there haven't been any improvements to my service in the past six month despite enormous amounts of advertising telling me how good the service is. Locally Verizon would be the better technical choice, but I find the company difficult to deal with...
and now there is this...
One has to question a company that charges over $1,000 a year for service and sells information about me to other customers. Other companies probably also do it, but it seems wrong. Just who is your customer and do you respect them?
I'm also disturbed by the business models of Facebook, Google and Twitter where you are the product. The end user is not the real customer, but merely something that generates information that can be sold. You are a cash crop. There is no such thing as "free". One wonders how much people would pay for these services if the model was the end user being the customer. And would the services work better for the end user?
I've done some surveys and found most people would not pay very much. For Facebook it works out to pennies per month and Google is a few dollars per month ... not as much as you are worth as a cash crop, so I wouldn't expect much of a change.
For what its worth I could imagine paying $10 to $15 a month for a "clean" Google and $0 a month for a clean Twitter or Facebook. What would you pay?
A couple of primers on the type of cellular data connection you probably want... My
My new iPhone 5 does LTE, but even though I live in the densely popular Northeast, my provider doesn't offer it yet. Hopefully sooner than later... If you are getting an LTE capable mobile, you probably should check out detailed coverage maps of the areas you're likely to use before making your carrier choice. There is a lot of terminology confusion in the market as well as some other issues that aren't well advertised.
There is a lot of marketing smoke and mirrors . 4G, in theory, means something but in marketing speak is pretty meaningless. Look at the LTE coverage maps in areas that are important to you and ask friends for their recent experiences. At the moment Verizon is the runaway winner, but hopefully they will get better competition if AT&T accelerates their LTE buildout.
A source of personal frustration since 1995. Back then I was giving a background talk on some simple basics of the Internet to some business executives at the company I was with. Someone asked about Metcalfe's Law - something I was unaware of.. I had to ask what it was and was told that it stated the value of a network increased as the square of the number of people in the network. Standing at the whiteboard for 30 seconds I was able to come up with how they got it and also a big flaw in the statement...
Since then there has been a huge amount of blind belief in Metcalfe's Law and Reed's Law leading to some rather spectacular valuations on building out fiber and and new network connections in the late 90s along with companies that were just looking for users - forget the little issue of being profitable and, more recently, in social networks.
More recently people are wondering about the network effect and the value of investments with the non-performance of some social media companies...
A bit of background is probably in order..
There are three "laws" involved (they really aren't laws, but the people who invoke them treat them as if they are solid truth - usually without understanding what they are based on and what they imply)
• Sarnoff's Law - after David Sarnoff of RCA fame in the 20s and 30s. It implies the number of possible network connections increases as the number of users. It usually speaks of broadcast networks where a message is sent via radio or TV and anyone with a receiver can "tune in" ... The implication is the more viewers, the greater the value. Note that nothing is said about the strength or value of the individual connection. Note also that it could be newspaper or magazine subscriptions...
• Metcalfe's Law - after Bob Metcalfe, inventor of ethernet. It is the number of pairs that can be made in a group. For n members, it is possible to assemble n*(n-1)/2 distinct pairs. If n is a large number, this is very close to n2/2, which is the normal statement of the "law" - people also say it increases as n2 ... Since we are used to thinking about communication connections between a pair of people, this is a natural way of thinking about the number of connections on something like a telephone network, but it ignores group conversations. Note that it says nothing about the strength of the connections - just that they are possible.
• Reed's Law - after David Reed, an MIT prof who is also something of an Internet boffin. David talks about the number of distinct subgroups that can be formed in a larger set of members. For a group of n members it is possible to have 2n distinct subgroups, but n of them have just one member (themselves) and it includes the group with no members (null set). So the number of subgroups that have at least 2 members is 2n - (n + 1). As n gets large, the first term dominates and the number of subgroups gets close to 2n. It says nothing about the value of these subgroups to their members, but is just the mathematical limit of the number of possible subgroups.
They aren't wrong - as long as they are carefully restricted to their specific domains, but somehow people interpret these as the value of networks and likelihoods rather than limits. Additionally Reed's and Metcalfe's "Laws" are frequently confused.
When talking about these it is probably important to mention Dunbar's Number. The assertion is the maximum number of stable and persistent social relationships you can manage is determined by some cognitive limit and for humans this is about 150. This determines effective organization size, the scale of your meaningful social network and so on. It is highly debatable, but it is clear the number of relationships is finite - people don't have 1,000 close personal friends and certainly not 10,000,000 (a few Facebook phenoms have millions of "friends"). More careful analyses suggest we have layers of friends and other social connections and the average limit is on the order of 100 to 300 people. We usually only have a handful who constitute close personal relationships and maybe a few dozen we might trust.
Back in 1995, and how these "laws" are used today, the question was "what is the value of the network?" Here one can immediately dismiss Reed's Law - if the value of any subgroup is the same, the value of going from n to n+1 members doubles the total value of the network. So if 1,000 users was worth - say $10 - 1,001 would be worth $20. Another 9 members increases the value to a bit over $10,000 and adding another 30 members increases the value by well over a billion times. It would make real sense to find those additional 20 members. It wouldn't take too many more to increase the network's value by more than the total economy of the Earth. Most of these subgroups will never exist and you need to consider their value on a case by case basis.
Metcafe's Law doesn't see such a dramatic increase, but it does increase much faster than what is observed as n becomes large. Back in 1995 I thought a bit about the problem when I was standing at the white board and suggested, half jokingly, that it probably scales as n*log(n) as so much of nature seems to follow a logarithmic increase and we clearly see more "value" than a linearly increasing broadcast network (Sarnoff's Law).
Since then Andrew Odlyzko and others have suggested a limit of value probably increases as - surprise - n*log(n) and show some fairly convincing arguments, but not a proof.
To figure out value, social effects must be included - linkages vary greatly in value. I'm inclined to believe that, but also belief there is a plateau effect going on - a manifestation of something like Dunbar's Number along with the strength of social connections. There also seems to be a burnout effect - particularly among people who begin to get real lives (although there are a large number of people who just waste their idle time or who look for ways to spend bits of time when everything else seems boring).
In any case it is complex. Sociology and anthropology are very complex subjects and there is enormous room for discovery. I suspect that the nature of electronically mediated social connections as well as hybrid connections with machines and real human interactions, will keep evolving. I think that services like Facebook and Twitter happened to offer an "improvement" over what currently existed for many - but the deep social connections just aren't there and the long term prospects (say 10 or more years) are iffy at best.
Perhaps the huge number of new services being tried are just an inefficient monte carlo-ish mechanism that, over time, will help us sort out some rather thorny sociology and anthropology.
For some people and organizations these can be useful and effective tools. For others they can be not terribly useful to wastes of time and money. There will be an evolution, but if you find something useful by all means do so and work on learning how to increase its value. But also appreciate there are limits. If you are in a situation where Sarnoff's broadcast networks are the end of the road there may be value here, but nothing is trivial.