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Residential Broadband Networks: Preliminary Findings from a Canadian ‘Information Highway’ Trial

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 12:14 authored by Catherine A. Middleton
There were many broadband network trials in the mid 1990s, but most of them were proprietary undertakings with research results available only to those corporations who participated in the trials. As such, there has been little public or academic discourse about the outcomes of these trials. With consumer access to broadband networks becoming more widespread however, it is important for industry and consumers to learn from the experiences of previous network deployments. This paper presents research results from a Canadian broadband trial. Three key themes are outlined: i) innovative content was developed for this trial, but there was a tradeoff between continued innovation and the necessary stability for the roll out of content; although innovation did not require huge resources, it was not something corporate consortium members did well; ii) getting content to supplement what was developed in-house was extremely difficult, and users’ needs were not always considered when external content was provided; and iii) the killer application was e-mail and the community-based listserv it enabled. The implications of these themes are discussed briefly and future research directions are outlined.