Honoring 20 years of the World Wide Web by looking forward at the future of broadband Internet
Broadband has evolved considerably over the last decade or so in the United States. Whereas just a few years ago, large parts of the country were relegated to pokey 56K dial-up connections over standard phone lines, now multi-megabit broadband connections are commonplace and speed increases are being introduced regularly. In fact, in some test markets, broadband at gigabit speeds is on the way. And yes, that’s gigabits with a “G,” as in roughly 17,800x more bandwidth than 56K dial-up.
Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
Replacing physical media with streaming music, movies and more is a wonderful idea, but in order to do it, you need a big, open bandwidth pipe. Nobody's ever watched an HD version of "Mad Men" on a 768kbps connection, after all. Christmas in July came early for cord cutting Verizon FiOS customers; the company plans on increasing users' max download speeds by a factor of two-fold or more, depending on which plan you're currently subscribed to.
In case you haven’t noticed, Gordon’s been updating the Maximum PC Twitter feed with timely bursts of insight from the ongoing Intel Developer Forum. If you didn’t notice, shame on you! You’ve been missing out on all kinds of info, like the fact that Intel showed off nifty things like an Ultrabook running Windows 8, Ivy Bridge tidbits and next-gen Haswell and Atom news. Something else you missed: the announcement that next year, the super-speedy Thunderbolt connection is coming to the PC.
We’ve taken it as a sad fact that the US tends to lag behind the rest of the world in terms of broadband speeds. There’s no choice but to accept it, but it still sucks, especially when headlines keep popping up telling us how great they have it in London. A while back, we told you that Virgin Media was rolling out 1.5Gbps services, but only to small number of high-tech business. Now, a new ISP named Hyperoptic is promising to bring 1Gbps connections to the residential masses. There’s a catch, though.
Pepsi vs. Coke. McDonalds vs. Burger King. HBO vs. Showtime. Every Superman has his equally capable (if somewhat lumpy faced) Bizarro Superman, and in the consumer Internet world, it's the tale of DSL/Fiber Optic vs. Cable. After Comcast fired the opening volley with those lovable TV turtles, the Slowskys, the aggrieved DSL crowd fired back with blazing fast fiber optic networks. Cable's response? Fiber optic, shmiber optic. Today, cable equipment provider ARRIS is unveiling new technology designed to blow the current fiber optic networks out of the water by delivering 4.5Gbps download speeds.
The market for ultra rugged eSATA portable hard drives has to be pretty small, but hey, here at Maximum PC we're all about catering to a niche right? If your still with us then you might want to check out the LaCie Portable Bus Powered eSATA drive which unfortunately, currently only comes in a 500GB capacity.
The manufacturer promises write speeds of up to 90MB/s, and even offers up a trusty old USB 2.0 connection just in case you find yourself without access to eSATA. The transfer speeds and storage capacity of this drive definitely makes it a compelling product, but some might find the $240 price tag a bit on the high side.
Is this amount of high speed portable storage worth the price?
So here's the deal: You don't want 101Mpbs broadband. And because you don't demand ultra high-speed internet, you're not the least bit impressed with Cablevision's recently announced Optimum Online Ultra, which will offer Long Island, New York residents uncapped 101Mpbs starting May 11 for $99 per month. Heck, if you cared at all about such high speeds, Verizon would have been offering a similar package two years ago, but you just don't.
Don't agree? Tell it to Eric Rabe, senior VP of Media Relations for Verizon, who posted a blog downplaying Cablevision's high-speed announcement. Rabe had some interesting things to say, essentially calling the service a sham.
"With today's technology, you don't have to break much of a sweat to deliver 100Mbps to a few customers," Rabe wrote. "But given the inherent limits of the cable platform, a cluster of bandwidth junkies living near each other could be a real problem. One estimate is that a single 101Mpbs customer would use some 60 perent of the capacity in a neighborhood. Other users? Outta luck."
Rabe went on to ask "How many customers have been storming the castle, asking for 101 megabits per second bandwidth?" Considering the lack of demand and scope, Rabe called Cablevision's announcement a "parlor trick."
And why stop at 100Mpbs? Rabe points out that Verizon's FiOS network has the capacity to deliver 400Mbps to a single home, along with the muscle to carry the load. It also has "plenty of room for more" upstream bandwidth than the 20Mbps it currently offers.
Forget about Verizon's FiOS and your spiffy new fast internet connection, because overall, the United States ranks 16th in terms of the best quality broadband internet services, according to a new survey by Oxford University Said Business School. The survey, which received assistance from Oviedo University and Cisco Systems, used collected broadband speed tests as measured by Speedtest.net. They analyzed both download and upload speed, along with internet latency from eight million tests performed in May of 2008.
So who reigned supreme? Japan topped the list has having the best quality broadband, with Sweden and the Netherlands rounding out the top three. The rest of the top ten include Latvia, Korea, Switzerland, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany, and Slovenia, according to the survey.