The race is on to start building out next generation data networks in the US. The US is ranked poorly among developed nations, specifically 9th in average broadband speeds. This measure is average across all in the US and not necessarily in metropolitan areas.
Since the networks have been slow to evolve the the incumbent providers have not made the investments needed to build out next generation networks, companies such as Google has taken things into their own hands. We’ve seen news of Kansas City as the first test subject with more in late news including Provo and Austin.
So what is gigabit Internet?
Data speeds are measured in bits, not the megabytes we’re more familiar with. One bytes = eight bits. One megabyte = eight megabits. So if you have home cable Internet at 20 megabits per second, you will be able to transfer 2.5 megabytes per second, or roughly one high quality song in about two to three seconds.
At gigabit speeds, that transfer rate equals 128 megabytes per second. That’s approaching or exceeding the transfer speeds of your average hard drive.
Why would you want Internet to be that fast?
For an average household today, that’s overkill. They aren’t capable of maximizing that connection speed. Even watching Netflix all day and backing up files will barely put a dent on that connection.
Back in the 90’s, the thought of video chats was just a vision. We were lucky just to stream video the size of a postage stamp in low quality. Digital cameras were just coming out to mainstream users. Fast forward to the turn of the millennium and music started to become all digital. Cell phones came with cameras.
Today, nearly everyone carries a cellphone capable of shooting HD photos. Applications such as Skype and Google Hangout enables two way video conversations. We are producing more and more content in the form of pictures, videos, and documents, which all are shared online, transferred through our data connection.
What’s coming up for tomorrow?
Our photos resolution is increasing, rapidly increasing the size of each photo. We upload and share higher quality video. Even the consumer front facing cameras for video chats have not increased in resolution, due to limited data connection speeds. The transformation we’ll see will be high quality HD video that we’ve expect from our television for video conversations. The quality of the voice will increase as speeds increase.
At gigabit speeds, we’ve removed the basic barriers that will allow us to enjoy the technology without worrying about the connection. We’ll be able to connect multiple devices without worrying about slowing down the network. Families will be able to keep in touch with video chats. We’ll be able to communicate with our medical providers through video calls. We’ll be able to watch movies at the highest quality.
What about beyond?
The applications for gigabit Internet haven’t even been explored yet because the infrastructure has’t been built. Google is taking a stance by demonstrating what can be if an entire city were connected.
How about a home video monitoring service that uploads high quality video to the cloud for backup and storage?
What about a distributed storage network like Space Money?
We’ve already seen smart thermostats, next generation gaming systems smart enough to read your heart beat, movie stream like Netflix and music streaming such as Pandora.
What if we eliminated the wait and load time. What if our experiences were instantaneous? If we built a network that connects everyone together, imagine what applications could be built.
Science fiction shows such as Star Trek is just around the corner.
The first step is to build the network and then see where we go from there.