MY TAKE ON BROADBAND throughout Ireland often comes by looking at speed tests, watching wireless broadband signals on my mobile phone, and wishing for more joined-up thinking about best ways to use the infrastructure. While I'm looking at statistics, I know that people respond to numbers (engine displacement on cars, departure reliability with airlines, third level entry scores with schools). There is an Irish sensitivity about League Tables and top standings. And there is a homeowner interest in that people want to know how their own broadband scores when measured against a Quality of Service standard. If a well-defined scoring system had some sort of standing through a local authority's seal of approval, people might start to understand the sort of broadband connectivity they have around their homes. When local authorities take over an estate, planners could issue the broadband certification in a simple alphanumeric system where higher numbers are better. Give a letter grade to the certification that correlates to upload speed and download speed. In my case, I would say that I live in a 1C-10A home. I can get a little more than one megabit per second of internet connectivity down to my home from eircom but I won't get more than a half a megabit per second upstream service. If I could get symmetrical digital internet connectivity, I would have a 1A broadband certificate. I also live in an area that could get me 10 megabits per second of internet connectivity, potentially getting me a 10A certification.
A lot of gaming applications (and Second Life) will fail when if you cannot connect and hold a 1 Mbps. So in my case, operating on a 1C connection, my Second Life experience could be unsatisfactory since I'm not certified to get 1 Mbps of upstream service. I also know that certain online video conferences that I hold in my home office occasionally degrade when internet speeds throttle back between my home and the local phone exchange. These are important numbers and I think they should be rounded down. In my case of 1.6 Mbps (as shown in the graphic), I still hold only a 1C certification.
I think people need to have their homes certified for broadband capability and some sort of awards standard should be championed by the government. The Department of the Environment is already rolling out energy certification for homes so people will be looking for ways to document efficiencies in operations. Broadband, like electricity, is a utility. It deserves some universally accepted standard of measurement. Like electricity, people pay for their broadband. They should know what they are getting because sometimes what comes through the data cable isn't the same speed that is invoiced on the bi-monthly bill.