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MONDAY, APRIL 07, 2014

Businesses that rely on high-speed Internet leave major cities to get cheaper, better service;

While some rural areas continue to lack broadband access, a new trend is emerging among businesses whose survival relies on faster Internet speed. Several are closing up shop in metropolitan areas and heading for smaller cities and towns that offer high-speed, fiber-optic cable connections at better prices and better availablity, Kate Murphy reports for Personal Tech.

In the U.S. only 7.7 percent of broadband subscribers have fiber connections, which are 100 times faster than wired or wireless service, Murphy writes. Surprisingy, some of the best places to get fiber is outside major metro areas. That has resulted in businesses in places like Seattle, Los Angeles and Denver relocating to towns like Lafayette, La., Chattanooga, Tenn., Wilson, N.C., Kansas City, Kan., and Mount Vernon, Wash.

"These digital carpetbaggers aren’t just leaving behind jittery Netflix streams and aggravating waits for Twitter feeds to refresh. They are positioning themselves to be more globally competitive and connected," Murphy writes. With optic fiber "web pages load instantly. Video and sound are more realistic. And giant amounts of data can be transferred at the speed of light."

While companies save money on fiber, small towns are benefiting from an increase in economy due to the new businesses, Murphy writes. Wilson, whose economy has suffered after the loss of North Carolina's tobacco and manufacturing jobs, has seen its economy grow from offering fiber, with one Los Angeles company relocating to Wilson, where they now get fiber for $150 per month, compared to $1,500 to $3,000 per month around Los Angeles.

Another business owner, Eric Blank, moved his 20-employee information security firm from Seattle to Mount Vernon, Wash., where his cost of service not only dropped from $985 a month to $250 a month, but the connection is much faster, Murphy writes. Plus, small town life is easier for the business. Blank told Murphy, “The fiber connection is the only reason we are in Mount Vernon and the customer service isn’t bad because all you have to do is walk down the street and knock on the door at City Hall.” (Read more)

Digital media consumption is eating our time

Today’s digital consumer is a terrifying, distracted content monster that knows no saturation point. At least that’s one takeaway from Nielsen’s new Digital Consumer Report it released this morning, a detailed amalgamation of research produced from twelve of its regular company surveys into our media consumption.

Digital media use took another 17 minutes from each of us in 2013. Taken over the full year, that equates to an extra four days plugged into our devices. Just when we thought we needed to detox a little from the digital realm, we went in and re-upped at a higher level.

Nielsen’s finding that we’re spending over an hour less each week tied to a desktop computer and watching live TV is not surprising. Today the idea that you have to be in front of a screen at a set time of the week to watch anything is as laughably old fashioned as an old rotary phone.

But we’re not using this gain in time to get out and smell the flowers. The average digital media consumer spent about two and a half hours more on their smartphones, according to Nielsen.

As has been repeated ad nauseam, we’re becoming rapidly more mobile in how we consume our media. But for every one hour of traditional media consumption we’re being saved, the mobile platform is taking two in return. And with almost half of the audience plugged into a second screen – 84 percent of people with a smartphone or tablet are on them while watching something else – it makes the traditionalist in you wonder if the whole thing is degrading the viewer experience and appreciation.

We all have a myriad of ways to connect now. The average American household has four digital devices. A high definition TV was the most ubiquitous of these, in 83 percent of homes, closely followed by a computer in 80 percent, smartphones in 66 percent and digital video recorders and gaming consoles in nearly half.

Smartphone use in American households tripled between 2009 and 2013. HDTV’s are in twice as many homes. Digital video recorders are in half of all homes compared with a third four years ago. Tablets are in 30 percent of all households now, up from just five percent.

Things are changing quickly but the wonderful toys of old are fast becoming old news. DVD players backslid by 7 percent between 2009 and 2013. The number of American homes with an Internet-connect computer is comparatively stagnant, likewise the presence of gaming consoles.
Nielsen’s statistics on social media use will be fuel for anyone wanting to cluck about its destructive influence. Social media is not a sometimes thing anymore. Almost two-thirds of people on social platforms are there daily.

The size of the mobile audience appreciated markedly in 2013, as did the areas of our lives where we’re comfortable logging in. Forty percent of 18-24 year olds use social media in the bathroom and 44 percent of them use social media sitting at the table in a restaurant. But the warning signs ricochet through different demographics. Nielsen found that almost half of mothers with young children checked into social media platforms while in the car with their kids. And the more you earn, the more likely you are to be on Facebook at work.

Whether the changes are good, bad or just different is a subjective gut check on how you feel about the invasion of digital media into every area of our life.

What is for sure though is that we’re moving away from old-media touch points while consuming media at higher and higher rates. We’ve never been more reachable, round the clock. So, what’s bad for the sociologist is great for the marketer, I guess.

ON FEBRUARY 10, 2014

[illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]

Today’s iPhone is more useful than $3,000 worth of gadgets from a 1991 Radio Shack;


January 31 at 9:45 am

Buffalo writer Steve Cichon dug up an old Radio Shack ad, offering a variety of what were then cutting-edge gadgets. There are 15 items listed on the page, and Cichon points out that all but two of them — the exceptions are a radar detector and a set of speakers — do jobs that can now be performed with a modern iPhone.

See story HERE


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