Anna Lustenberg of Verizon says she was thrilled with the U.S. 1 cover story on September 5, “Broadband Battles,” showing the Verizon and the Comcast trucks head to head. “For us it will still be a war, but the customer wins,” the spokeswoman said of the article by Douglas Dixon, who offered detailed comparisons of each service.

Dixon wrote about how Verizon’s fiber optic service (FIOS) promises faster Internet data rates and allows Verizon to compete head-on with Comcast in providing the full “triple play” of services — telephone, television, and Internet. Meanwhile, Dixon explained, Comcast is fighting back with its own all-digital package of services and a healthy advertising budget.

A representative from Comcast questioned one of Dixon’s characterizations of shared services: “The Comcast cable service is a shared line within your neighborhood, as opposed to a dedicated connection like a traditional phone line or the Verizon FiOS service. This means Internet data service can slow down if all your neighbors sign up and start massive downloads.”

Comcast said that it limited the number of households that can be on a node. But its web page admits that, “if a number of subscribers in the same neighborhood all ask to download files at the same time, performance will be slowed.”

Dixon also noted that, because the television line is also shared and signals are not yet encrypted, consumers can actually use a special TV tuner to search beyond the high channels and find slots where Comcast delivers on demand services, including X-rated shows, that neighbors are watching.

All of the mobile carriers, not just Comcast, have shared line problems, says Dixon, when we called him after the article was published: “They run out of bandwidth as people start downloading lots of entertainment (especially HD video) — and then Comcast starts to cancel customers who thought ‘unlimited’ meant, well, ‘without limits.’”

A Washington Post article estimates that the “limit” is the equivalent of 1,000 songs a day or four feature-length films. Of course, Verizon Wireless and other mobile carriers have been struggling with this as well, and facing the same bad publicity for canceling customers who break their (undisclosed) limits and rules.” Dixon’s website (www.manifest-tech.com) links to these references.

“They also serve who only stand and wait,” might be the mantra for U.S. 1 Newspaper’s rush hour traffic drivers. John Milton’s famous ending to the sonnet “On Blindness” might be rephrased to say “they also serve who put up with bumper-to-bumper traffic when they aren’t going anywhere but up and down Route 1.”

This year we persuaded several editorial and circulation staffers to participate: Mary Ann Davison, Barbara Fox, Claudia Guenther, T.J. Lee, John Symons, Galen Valley, and William Vandegrift. As we have done for 20 years, we clocked round trips up and down Route 1, between Franklin Corner Road to Raymond Road, driving at the worst times of day (between 8 and 9 a.m. and from 5 to 6 p.m.) and noting what time they went through each of 13 intersections. All in the name of research.

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