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Future imperfect: A UK broadband retrospective
Saturday, 17 January 2015 21:00

Feature It's astonishing how fast the world changes. It's not so long ago that my internet connection at home was a 64k KiloStream, with an ISDN line that was used for backup, or channel bonding if I wanted to download something at a whopping 128kbps. It was fearsomely expensive, but since I was writing about the net a lot back then, it paid its way.

For most people, though, always-on internet only really became a reality at the start of the 21st century with the launch of BT's ADSL service. Between 2003 and 2008, I wrote a series of articles

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Virgin, Qualcomm, back 600-satellite space internet plan
Friday, 16 January 2015 18:31

WorldVu, an outfit that last year looked to have Google and Elon Musk backing its vision for a fleet of broadband-beaming low-earth orbit satellites, has scored backing from Virgin and Qualcomm.

Now operating as OneWeb Ltd but still helmed by former Google man Greg Wyler, the plan now calls for 648 satellites instead of the 700 mentioned last year. Virgin Galactic's nascent LauncherOne program has been picked as the launch vehicle – Branson says he has an “order” from OneWeb.

But the numbers aren't adding up on this one, for several reasons.

For starters, LauncherOne is yet to fly. Virgin's

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NBN's basement-dive begins in earnest
Monday, 19 January 2015 10:14

NBN Co, the entity building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has started identifying which apartment blocks are to get its fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) rollout, with 43 blocks totalling 6,000 premises on the current plan.

Around 2,000 of the premises in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney (the latter receiving the bulk of the initial rollout) are expected to be ready for NBN Co's proposed launch of commercial services in March.

The remaining 6,000 will be ready for service by the end of June.

With only a short cable run from basement to apartment, and frequently relatively new infrastructure to work with, the trial

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Simple Directional WiFi Antenna
Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:01

Back in 2007, [Stathack] rented an apartment in Thailand. This particular apartment didn’t include any Internet access. It turned out that getting a good connection would cost upwards of $100 per month, and also required a Thai identification card. Not wanting to be locked into a 12-month contract, [Stathack] decided to build himself a directional WiFi antenna to get free WiFi from a shop down the street.

The three main components of this build are a USB WiFi dongle, a baby bottle, and a parabolic Asian mesh wire spoon. The spoon is used as a reflector. The parabolic shape means …read more

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So: Will we get net neutrality? El Reg decodes FCC boss Tom Wheeler
Friday, 09 January 2015 11:11

Analysis FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has set off another frenzied storm of net neutrality speculation.

At a packed session at CES on Wednesday, Wheeler was interviewed about a range of issues but most significantly over how the FCC plans to classify broadband: something that will have huge implications for internet access across the US.

Wheeler was not precise in his comments, talking instead about what he hoped to achieve – some aspects of which appeared contradictory. But overall, given that the FCC only really has two choices, it would appear that it will vote on regulating broadband under an older

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Broadband isn't broadband unless it's 25Mbps, mulls FCC boss
Friday, 09 January 2015 08:38

US comms watchdog the FCC wants to increase the minimum speed ISPs must deliver in order to label an internet service as broadband.

Chairman Tom Wheeler hopes to scrap today's minimum of 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up, and instead require carriers to provide 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up if they want to claim broadband internet service in the US.

The proposal is part of an evaluation the FCC carried out for its Annual Broadband Progress Report. According documents seen by The Register , the basis for the redefinition is a belief by Wheeler that bandwidth speeds have not kept up

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