"What power users need is faster upload speeds, but the AT&T Broadband service only does 384 kbps in that direction. Going above 1.5 mbps is important for voice, music and video applications, or if you have many users sharing a connection (for example, via a WiFi access point). But AT&T isn’t thinking about those situations. Until high-speed service providers understand their customers, we won’t see much innovation in broadband services."
Absolutely. In France circa 2002, France Telecom has the guts to market their 512/128 ADSL service as "broadband." When my girlfriend uploads new book covers to our ftp server, I have to manually throttle down the bandwidth allocated to eDonkey (a P2P program with hashing support and several dedicated sites, thus preempting most attempts to load it with fake files), and when I use Windows Messenger with my webcam, I almost need to stop it altogether. Don’t even think about running a multi-point web conference from such a lousy connection. My bandwidth will cap long before my RAM and CPU. Can you say "bottleneck," not just for our own PCs, but for a whole industry.
Some French cable companies, as well as DSL providers in countries such as Portugal or Australia, actually cap the amount of upload and/or download bandwidth you can use, charging you by the extra megabyte. Hello? A megabyte is a nano unit as far as digital data is concerned. 1 minute of lossy mp3 already takes 1MB. 1 minute of DV video takes 200 MB, for chrissakes, while divx still requires about 5-10MB per minute for acceptable results. We own a broadcast-grade prosumer camcorder, yet the amount of downgrading we have to do on the signal to share it online is laughable. For practical purposes, who’s sharing anything but low-res pictures?
Another thing these ISPs don’t understand is latency. If I need 100ms to ping a gaming server, the lag makes the whole thing worthless. Gaming has driven hardware upgrades for two decades (NVidia probably wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for gaming), so you think marketers would have gotten a clue by now. And the people who get excited by console-based network gaming are missing the point that those are the games who have the most vibrant communities (just look at the countless mods for Quake or Unreal Tournament.) Did I just say "user-created content?" Yes, that’s more need for upload speed.
Reality check: "broadband" ISPs are selling a premium service that turns us into second-class citizens. You’re on dial-up? I guess you hardly feel like an "online citizen" at all. I wouldn’t even dream about blogging on a 56K (fact check? my ass at these speeds).