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For The Love of Broadband

2/21/2012 1:07 PM

Gobs of data last week about broadband usage and trends: AT&T’s blog about network strain; Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index; fresh data from Oolaya about video streaming; and even a kerfuffle between Korea Telecom and Samsung over connected TVs and broadband usage.

Whatever the relationship, it seems the week of the love holiday now coincides with a lot of observations from a lot of places about how we’re using broadband.

And that’s not counting the rapid rise of in-the-background, machine-to-machine computing that’s going on within your machine, even as you read this: Software updates, anti-virus activities, cookie-passing.

Again we ask: Is there a need for some sort of Energy Star-ish focus on broadband usage, to at least establish best practices for machine-to-machine computing? Clearly, this trend of ridiculously fast growth in wired and mobile broadband usage isn’t going anywhere but nutso.

Let’s take them one by one. First, AT&T senior executive vice president John Donovan posted a dramatic Valentine’s Day blog, citing a 20,000% increase in wireless data usage over the past five years.

“Running year-end numbers that show the same results as previous years is typically a sign of stability,” Donovan wrote. “But when the year end numbers show a doubling of wireless data traffic 2010 to 2011 - and you’ve seen at least a doubling every year since 2007 - the implications are profound.”

Cisco’s ongoing work to quantify broadband usage is predictably fat with data. Highlights: More smart phones than humans on earth by the end of this year, consuming an average of 2.6 GB per month; video will represent two thirds of the world’s mobile data in four years.

Then there’s Ooyala, which describes its work as “video analytics technology that measures viewer engagement in real time.” It also posted a meaty usage update last Tuesday. Upshot: People are watching more video on more screens for longer periods of time. The bigger the screen, the longer the dwell.

Meanwhile, over in Seoul, Korea Telecom got so bent out of shape by the high broadband usage amongst Samsung’s connected TVs, they cut off access. “KT insists smart TVs share the costs of quality maintenance of the Internet as they tend to hog the networks, while TV makers argue they have no obligation to do so,” reported the Maeil Business Newspaper.

The Samsung/KT scuffle is by far the most interesting of the bunch. Imagine the uproar, if any service provider here were to cut off any device, on the basis of usage hoggishness!

Nonetheless, even with all this video connectivity, to all these screens, we are still a distracted bunch. Ooyala’s data showed that tablet users were “45% more likely to complete three-quarters of a video than viewers who watched on a desktop.” So if you’re preparing anything in video, don’t bury the lead.

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