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Superfast Broadband and the FOURTH LAW OF THE INTERNET – It’s All Hype #digitalbritain

Some of you might remember the book “Masers and Lasers; How They Work, What They Do.” (1964, M. Brotherton. The McGraw-Hill Book Company). In my well thumbed copy page 5, talks about laser beams and uses the term “superhighways” for communication.

The January 3, 1983 issue of Newsweek: talked about “…information superhighways being built of fiber-optic cable will link Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D. C. in a 776-mile system on the East Coast.”

In the December 19, 1991 issue of the Christian Science Monitor Senator Al Gore called NREN the “information superhighway” – a catalyst for what he hoped would one day become a national fiber-optic network. Clearly in 1991 normal channels (TheRegister et al) were not around to make these announcements so he had to make do with the Christian Science Monitor.

I’ve already blogged that by last year BT in the UK had 11 million kms of fibre in the ground. I would expect that Al Gore might consider the Information Superhighway to well and truly have arrived.

Actually he would be reasonably right for a good proportion of internet users. This post though is not a rave about the digital divide. It is actually about marketing hype.

The latest political buzz-phrase seems to be “superfast broadband”. I personally think these hyped up phrases have had their day. Politicians across the ages have obviously latched on to them in their own messaging and marketing campaigns.

I wish people would just stick to the facts. In this case max possible speed 40Mbps, min 15Mbps, probably 25Mbps on average, certainly if we are talking FTTC. Clearly I will never make it in the marketing game.

I have though invented two Laws of the Internet.

The THIRD LAW OF THE INTERNET says that cups of tea always go cold before you finish drinking them when surfing. It’s a proven fact with a lot of laboratory research to back it up.

The FOURTH LAW OF THE INTERNET says that marketing hype accelerates faster than Moores Law. They are completely unconnected – I know that his will be a difficult concept for some to grasp (bit like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity but different).

The practical implication of the FOURTH LAW is that we will soon have to invent new words to describe how fast a connection is.

Today it is superfast broadband. Tomorrow it is going to have to be “this broadband is so fast you won’t be able to touch your router because it is so hot”. It’s a fact. It’ll give politicos a problem though – not a quick soundbyte phrase.

Ah well. My thanks to the internet (phrase circa1996) for access to Wikipedia for the historical stuff. Marvellous.

PS the FIRST and SECOND LAWS OF THE INTERNET have yet to be discovered.  They might not even exist. Scientists tell me we will need better search engine technology than is available today to find them.

PPS if someone else already invented different third and fourth laws, for clarity these are trefor davies’ third and fourth laws of the internet.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

3 replies on “Superfast Broadband and the FOURTH LAW OF THE INTERNET – It’s All Hype #digitalbritain”

your third law is spot on.
First : ‘Broadband’ is an always on connection to the internet.
Second : Adsl and any copper solution is simply a stop gap, normally called 1st generation broadband.It has been the reason so many of the country are using the internet. It was great while it lasted. Now it is obsolete and can’t cope.
Third : tea always goes cold
Fourth : Politicians and journos do not know anything about physics so use spin and moores law to report on any internet issues regarding broadband access, speed or quality.
Fifth: countries who do their homework will rule the digital world, and digitalbritain won’t be amongst them on an ‘up to 2megabit USC’
Sixth: Superfast broadband is what Korea has. 1000megabits for a tenner a month.
Seventh: until a real network is built to deliver ‘broadband’ using fibre optics to every home we can NOT say we have superfast.

Re : TIL3 + Tea
Perhaps you need this –
Just stay away from those poxy immersion heaters.

My bovine fecal matter detector screams when I hear “fast broadband” or “superfast broadband”. The number I want to hear is minutes-per-CD-ISO (700 KB equiv.). Multiply by seven to get the DVD number. Of course, my grasp of marketing blather is limited due to my being an engineer. And when a sales guy blows smoke up my ass I respond with –
Ich moechte keine Schwartzwaldershinken heute.

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