What could be nicer than a megabit to the home? Telewest knows. Today, it announces that most of its Blueyonder broadband customers will get an extra 50 percent bandwidth, absolutely free. 512kbps becomes 750k, one meg becomes one and a half, and those lucky rich kids on two megs get a stonking three.
As a happy one-meg punter, I should say "thanks, Telewest!" and go about my business humming cheerful hymns to my benefactor for bestowing a T1 link upon me. Of course, I am grateful -- but not grateful enough. All three speed upgrades are downstream only, so we're still left with 128k up for 750k down and 256k up for the faster options. That means the three meggers will have more than ten to one speed difference between downloading and uploading -- a massive disparity.
The reason is clear enough: Telewest doesn't want people running popular web, filesharing and game servers at home. You want that, you buy the big business deals. Fair enough, if that was the only legitimate use for fat pipes leaving the house. But I already run several services on my machine, which I use for moving stuff between work and home, connecting back to base when I'm away in richly networked foreign parts, and moving multimedia files about between friends and family. It's dead handy for that, but it's darned sluggish when doing any real work.
Perhaps I'm just jealous. A savvy pal tells me today about the IT manager of a certain very large Internet company in the UK, who is also whinging about his personal bandwidth. You see, the poor chap has chosen to live out in the sticks, where the trees are green, the rivers sparkling and the fastest connection he can get is eight megabits per second. In both directions - apparently, he rather enjoys online gaming. The reason for his misery, though, is the knowledge that if he moved back to the smoke he could indent for his own fibre and a juicy 100 megabits per second.
(Oh, for bonus points: which northern comedian/actor has so taken to Xbox Live that he can be frequently found indulging in five hour shoot-em-up sessions at the head of a gang of like-minded lads? I'd like to say "reader: I shot him", but I lasted for less time than I would on stage at the Glasgow Apollo.)