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August 2010
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October 2010

The real problem with broadband

How times change. It seems like only yesterday I was tramping around our Perthshire village collecting signatures to persuade BT to give us a slot in the broadband rollout. Fortunately, BT were able to expedite the mass rollout and here we are today with a luxuriant 6 megabits to the door. On a good day and at a quiet time. In common with lots of communities, we have learnt what 'contention' means. The more users, the lower the speeds. So, the demand for the existing bandwidth peaks at different times; early morning dips followed by late afternoons and early evenings; all drained as businesses, young people and iPlayers fire up.

That's fine but for one thing. The focus of bandwidth is always 'download' speeds. The issue is always viewed from the consumers' perspective. Yet, for me; the main problem is 'uploads'. I produce material and I wanted to upload big multimedia files. Inherent in the whole physics of broadband bandwidth is asymmetry.  For a variety of  reasons; you can download faster than you can upload and it will be thus for evermore. It was particularly poignant this week. Fiona Dalgetty and the young musicians from Fèis Rois are in London preparing for a Big Lottery Awards Show with John Barrowman. I recently completed some videos with Angus Mackenzie for Fiona as a series of tin whistle tutorials in both English and Gaelic. Paul the webmeister is in South America but is managing the site on his travels. So my frustration was spending 3 full days just uploading the videos to the Fèis Rois YouTube channel.  I wanted to do it so Fiona could stand there and know some of her bright ideas ( Angus was one ) were out there. We got there in the end and everything is fine...but if I had bite my nails and worry that the upload wouldn't time out.

In another life, the music will remain the same but  I will come back and alter the laws of physics as it relates to network speeds.