Sunday, April 30, 2006

How BROAD is my BAND???!!

Well there is a lot of apparent confusion on the definition of Broadband......what speed qualifies as Broadband?

I frequently get asked this question.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that today Broadband, at best, is a relative term. In technical terms (as applicable to communications theory), broadband is a signal which carries a wide range of frequencies. In this sense multiple signal streams (eg. data) are sent concurrently to effectively increase the rate of data transmission. We can contrast this to baseband where one signal will use the full bandwidth available in a medium. In simple terms, broadband: mutiple signals over one medium which effectively increases the speed, baseband: one signal over one medium.

So how fast is Broadband?

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) [] Standardization Sector (ITU-T) recommendation I.113 defines broadband as a transmission capacity that is faster than primary rate ISDN (which is 1.5 to 2 Mbit/s depending on American or European implementation).

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines broadband as 200 kbit/s (0.2 Mbit/s) in one direction, and advanced broadband as at least 200 kbit/s in both directions.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines broadband as 256 kbit/s in at least one direction.

The OECD definition is probably the most common baseline "broadband speed" around much of the world, but the puritans will likely disagree. Technically speaking an analogue modem operating at > 600 bits/s (that's 0.6kbits/s) is broadband. Higher data rates are obtained by using multiple channels on the same medium, so 2 channels @ 600 baud give 1200 bits/s and 4 channels would give 2400 bits/s and so on. Why is this (in today's terms) low data speed broadband? Because it combines multiple signal streams over the same medium - refer to the definition of a broadband signal above.

Confused? So are the rest of us.........

Unfortunately, there is no specific all inclusive gloablly accepted definition of broadband as evident by the varying definitions above from different organisations around the world. Because of this, in the internet world, ISPs capitalise on this fact and typically market anything above dial-up modem services as "broadband". Generally speaking most regulators/policy makers tend to go by the OECD definition and thus internet broadband is regarded as anything better than 256kbits/s (minimum in one direction ie. usually download speed; upload speeds are generally slower).

A point to note is that most ISPs will typically oversell the backbone bandwidth they have available. This is based on the fact that most users do not use their full link capacity all the time, and it generally works, with users being able to burst up to their link speed most of the time. There is likely to be performance degradation at peak times though if the available ISP backbone capacity is heavily oversold. Also remember that most broadband connections are asymmetric in nature eg. if you subscribe to a 256k package, this will be the maximum download speed, and the upload speed is likely to be 64k or another multiple of 64k.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I am a Cartoon!

Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking. Thank you............some have asked me where my cartoon came from. The caricature is from the good folks at ICANNWIKI

The artwork is by Rhoda Grossman and she has done some interesting stuff....have a look at her far as I know most of the stuff on icannwiki is also by her.

If you want yours done, create a page on and upload a picture. Come back and check a few days later and Rhoda should have your caricature on your page. It would be nice to build and expand the icannwiki community.........

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Wellington Blues

Well ICANN Wellington is over and done with and lets see what comes up in the coming months. Of interest is how Dot Triple-X will evolve and the introduction of Internationalised Domain Names. It will also be interesting to see how much more a role GAC will play in ICANN deliberations.....

ICANN Wellington was generally very well organised. The nightly ICANN Bar was definite hit as was the Welcome Night at the National Museum - an excellent location. There were some issues with Wi-Fi in the meeting rooms but I think this can be attributed more to delegates with poorly configured machines than anything else - too many were trying to be an AP themselves.........

I was quite impressed with Wellington as a city. Its relatively small and compact and being someone who loves wintery weather, the cold blowing winds and rain were fine with me (though I know most would prefer something else). Wellington has an abundance of eating places and just about every cuisine you could think of. We did Turkish one night at a place called "Harem". There was a lot of excitement initially in the choice of name but alas there were no topless (or nude!) dancing girls, just pide and sheesh-kabab.....the restaurant interior was quite interesting and the loo was also decorated in line with the rest of the restaurant which was interesting.......we also did Indian one night but unfortunately at a restaurant pretending to do Indian - the food was just plain terrible - maybe for someone who does not have much experience in Indian cuisine it would be passable, but really I am not sure how it won the award it claims on its front window as the best Indian restaurant in Wellington. I would suggest the people involved in judging the awards were either severely gastronomically challenged or high on something (or perhaps both!).

Nightlife was good too......we ended up at the Bristol Hotel on Cuba St (Mall) one night with our good friend from Bangalore (and wearing an ICANN hat for the week) Madan. It happened to be a Blues night and the band was pretty good. As members of the group started to doze off sometime after midnight (not because of the band - all were just plain tired), we decided to call it a night. Apparently there is a place called Boogie Wonderland or similar playing blasts from the past (amongst other things) so perhaps next time.........and if one were to traverse far enough up Cuba St one will find a lot of other colourful pursuits and things........Molly Malone's (not far from the Museum) is also
recommended on Tuesday nights when Andy Linton and his gang play a bit of Irish culture. The Brewery on Taranaki (location of the ICANN Bar) has a good sample of local brews......I prefer the dark and made good use of what was on offer.

Wellington also has a (small) zoo which isn't too bad either, complete with roaring lions, sleepy tigers, hungry giraffes and some real cheeky chimpanzees. The cable car ride to the hilltop is OK too but nowhere as spectacular as the Hong Kong version.......people are generally friendly and the ethnic background is quite cosmopolitan - from Africans to Indians to Europeans to Arabs to Pacific Islanders. Shopping isn't spectacular - Wellington lacks a decent shopping mall but has a string of shops, but its not exactly a shopping mecca........but there do seem to be second-hand book stores all over the place, one of which is run by our own Don in Newtown which we paid a visit and left with a bag full of gems.........not quite sure why the NZ parliament is shaped like a beehive though......sort of makes a point about the queen bee..........

All in all Wellington is a fine city (and I recently got told its currently the 4th most livable city in the world).......did not have time to visit the surrounding areas (I believe the Lord of the Rings trilogy was shot in the area) which I understand is quite good too.......and remember for some decent Wellington Blues, its the Bristol on Thursday nights..............