How Much Bandwidth is Enough?

How much bandwidth does a business need? As the FCC considers a national broadband plan, it's an important question. Do we really need the gigabit broadband that Google is planning to experiment with, or are the speeds already commonly available fast enough?

It is tempting to paraphrase and simply say, "You can never be too rich, too thin, or have enough bandwidth." And it's true enough; Google thinks users can fill a 1Gbps pipeline. Maybe someday, but our actual proven needs are much more modest, and achievable.

I'd like to suggest a number and defend it: 5Mbps, which is a fairly common speed that is available today, typically from cable modems. It's more than my small business has available--a speed test just found my DSL to be running at 3.5Mbps downstream and a slow 0.5Mbps upstream--but less than the 13Mbps my editor has at his home.

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Why Palm Can't Be Saved

That sound you've been hearing--that soft "swooshing" in the distance--isn't anything important. It's just the sound of Palm circling the drain. For despite having had excellent carrier support from Verizon and Sprint, as well as good products, the company has once again failed to gain any real traction in the marketplace.

Let me make this really clear: There is no reason for anyone to purchase a Palm smartphone that makes sense, save a few people who hate Apple, Android, and BlackBerry with equal passion. All three competitors are better choices than a Palm Pre Plus or Pixi Plus.

Though a sentimental favorite and hard worker, Palm faces challenges that have only become tougher since its relaunch last summer.

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FCC Study Underscores Need for Broader Broadband

The FCC reports that 93 million Americans--that's 35 percent of those over age 5--lack broadband access at home. Worse, the digital divide is getting more severe, hurting all of us--especially small businesses.

These 93 million are people who, increasingly, can't talk to us, can't buy from us, can't be our future employees, and, worst of all, will be unable to create value in tomorrow's economy.

That is the upshot of a new FCC survey and study released Tuesday that details what Chairman Julius Genachowski calls "an opportunity divide" across America.

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Why I'm Bullish on Bloom Energy

After decades of looking at new energy technologies, few have looked better to me--at least from this distance--than Bloom Energy's new fuel cells. It's being touted as a real game-changer. And it may be, in more ways than one.

Why? Because Bloom might fill a huge need for new power sources, and I trust the people who are backing it. John Doerr, perhaps the most respected American venture capitalist, is the lead investor in Bloom. Vinod Khosla, another gold-standard VC, is also in on the deal.

These guys have seen everything, and if this is what gets them to invest and put their reputations on the line, it's an excellent endorsement. Meanwhile, Bloom's technology suggests there may be other ways, perhaps better ones, yet to be discovered.

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Sprint To Usher In the Year of 4G Wireless

4G wireless--which operates at speeds up to 10 times greater than today's 3G networks--could become a reality for many businesses over the coming year. Sprint, the current 4G leader, says it will introduce its first 4G smartphone before mid-year.

Sprint introduced its 4G WiMAX network in 2008, but so far there have been no handsets to use on it. While the carrier has introduced non-phone devices, such as wireless cards, mobile hotspots, and USB modems for 4G, phones have waited as the network was built out.

That makes sense, considering the small footprint of Sprint's 4G network, which today reaches about 30 million people in 27 markets. By the end of the year, however, the addition of Houston, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington will expand the footprint to include 120 million people.

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Google Remorse and the Buzz Privacy Backlash

Macworld contributor Kirk McElhearn is suffering from a massive case of what I call "Google remorse," and he's not alone. McElhearn's column, "Why I'm Dropping Google," is part of a much larger backlash I'm seeing against the search giant.

Kirk's complaints--essentially that Google doesn't care enough about privacy, knows too much about him, and is just too big--aren't unique. He says Google is violating its core value, "Don't Be Evil," with "alarming frequency of late."

Yes, Google has fallen to earth in recent weeks. Buzz, Nexus One, the mess in China, and CEO Eric Schmidt's absolutely true, but unfortunate comment about privacy, have demonstrated that the company is, in fact, a collection of human beings, who may create Android, but aren't droid's themselves.

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Microsoft Unfairly Blasted for Charging for Windows Phone OS

M

icrosoft is right--and well within its rights--to expect handset manufacturers to pay for its new Windows Phone 7 Series operating system. Have you seen it? The OS is gorgeous, putting even the iPhone to shame on looks alone.

Silicon Alley Insider has a post calling Microsoft's decision to charge for the OS the "joke of the week." The item says that since the OS isn't likely to generate more than $300 million-a-year in revenue than Microsoft shouldn't bother charging at all. (Ars Technica is also writing about this issue today.)

I think the real joke isn't Microsoft, rather those blowing this issue out of proportion. If handset vendors are willing to pay, as they seem to be, Microsoft should charge for the OS. If the smartphone makers were not willing to pay, Microsoft would, presumably, have made a different decision.

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