"I smell a trend here. Anybody who has broadband probably has a second or third PC – and the logic then follows that they probably have them hooked up together – to share their broadband access – which means they have a Home LAN. While we’re at it – they also probably have some devices as well."
What have you got when three people use their shared "broadband"[*] connection at the same time? Narrowband. You can’t use VoIP reliably and send big e-mails or share video at the same time. It’s even a problem on a single multi-tasking PC. Home LANs underline the severe lack of bandwidth. Having 0.5Mbps is like getting 500 watts to serve your whole home. If you plug in the iron but forgot to turn off the light, the fuses will blow. Oh, and don’t set the iron on its highest heat capacity, that’s for professional dry cleaners only.
Here’s VoIP on typical "broadband" experience: "Hello, hello, I can’t hear you… Sorry pal, I was uploading some files to my ftp server, and the pipe got clogged." Vonage requires 90kbps (each way) to work (there’s a 30kpbs codec but of course it’s a quality trade-off.) Typical ADSL in France is 128kpbs up (512kbps seems common in the US.) Isn’t it a common scenario to have two or three phone conversations going on in a family home? You do the math.
So-called broadband Internet is sold as some sort of cutting-edge technological breakthrough ("10x times as fast!") Hello, your trickling bandwidth can’t even deliver TV-like full screen color video (visually speaking, a quite low standard to start with), something people have been getting for free for decades. And there are people to wonder why broadband isn’t mainstream yet. What’s wrong with you?
This is smoke-signal grade bandwidth (puff – p u f f – puff puff puff), my only hope is my daughter will be able to find it unbelievable by the time she’s a teen. "Daddy, you mean when I was a toddler you had to stop listening to music to be able to make a phone call? And most people still went to stores to buy those ugly CDs that are gathering dust in the basement? And grandma didn’t even have an Internet phone?"
[*] the typical 0.5-1Mbps downstream, 0.1-0.5Mbps upstream, cable or ADSL "consumer" service. Notice how we’re supposed to be "down", the language itself is revealing about where service probiders see users in the food chain.