Monday, August 29, 2011

Wideband...Broadband on Steroids

There has been a flurry of advertisements on TV and print lately touting new higher speed access to the Internet. Cincinnati Bell offers a new fiber based system which is very good and robust and provides both very high speed Internet access and high definition TV service. They promise Internet speeds up to 100 mbps. Unfortunately, they do not yet provide this enhanced service throughout the region. Time Warner Cable has been pushing what they call Wideband. According to the ads, the new service can provide up to 50 mbps. To put this all in perspective, the regular turbo RoadRunner runs at about 3 mbps.

Time was when most of us only used the Internet to send and receive emails which, for the most part, were made up of text and, on occasion, a few pictures. This required very little bandwidth and many of us used our regular telephone lines to make the Internet connection. You may remember the term “dial up.” Today we use the Internet for tasks that were unheard of just a few years ago. Watching high definition video, making video calls to persons around the world and connecting our smart phones to the cloud all require a great amount of bandwidth. The big question is what speed is right for your situation.

Watching the new TV commercials for Time Warner’s Wideband can give the impression that we all need super high speed services. This may be a bit of a stretch and can also be very expensive. For sure, if you are going to use the Internet to download full length high definition TV programming, the higher speed is a good idea. A ten page text email uses less bandwidth to download than one second of HD video. The fact is that, so far, few use the Internet as the primary way of watching TV programs.

Some people are confused about the advertisements because they blur the lines between watching TV via the Internet and watching TV via digital cable. You need the Wideband speed only if you watch programming via the Internet from services like or If you are a digital cable subscriber you don’t need Wideband to watch TV.

I find it interesting and somewhat disingenuous on the part of Time Warner with their commercials promoting Wideband. The ads show a family happily playing games and watching movies. All of these activities require Wideband band service. Then the commercial cuts to a graphic with large text, “Starting at only $29.99 a Month.” Of course, when you investigate further, you will find that Wideband is much more expensive and will cost as much as $99.99 per month. The $29.99 per month has fine print indicating this rate is for a 2 to 10 mbps service. The remaining 40 mbps will cost you a bit more. Caveat Emptor!

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home