Comcast cites John Dvorak in FCC filing--for being oh so very wrong

Defending its BitTorrent throttling and opposition to new Net neutrality mandates, cable operator invokes tech columnist's less-than-accurate 2005 prediction.

Technology columnist John Dvorak was cited by Comcast in its defense of BitTorrent throttling this week--but not in an especially flattering way.

The cable operator is trying to convince the Federal Communications Commission to leave it alone by way of background, invoking the we've-taken-major-risks and it's-a-dynamic-industry arguments. Here's an excerpt from its filing with the FCC on Tuesday, which I reformatted slightly for easier reading:

Given the widespread availability and use of broadband today, it is easy to forget that, as recently as 1995, only about 17.5 million U.S. adults accessed the Internet, and virtually every one of them did so by way of a dial-up connection that had a top speed of only 56 thousand bits per second.

When Congress in 1996 expressed the hope that "high-speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications" would be developed and deployed to all Americans on a "reasonable and timely" basis, the prospect of that occurring anytime soon was remote.

There was no obvious path to reach that destination. Moreover, the notion that cable operators could lead the way in that deployment was widely dismissed by experts as technically infeasible and derided as an "interesting-sounding idea[] that will attract what venture capitalists call dumb money."*

* John C. Dvorak, "The Looming Cable Modem Fiasco," PC Magazine, Sept. 12, 1995, at 89 ("The noisiest buzz in the industry lately has been over the emerging use of cable TV systems to provide fast network data transmissions using a device called a cable modem. But the likelihood of this technology succeeding is zilch." (emphasis added)).

Columnists are paid to be provocative, of course, and few have perfect records of prognostication. Then again, you can see other Dvorak predictions at his Wikiquotes page, including this classic: "The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a 'mouse.' There is no evidence that people want to use these things."

 

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