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[qi:051] Swedish grannies are connecting to the net at 40 gigabits per second life; 100 megabit per seconds are becoming common place in Japan and Korea; and even French are dreaming of an ultra-fast fiber future. And yet, in the US we are all stuck in […]

[qi:051] Swedish grannies are connecting to the net at 40 gigabits per second life; 100 megabit per seconds are becoming common place in Japan and Korea; and even French are dreaming of an ultra-fast fiber future. And yet, in the US we are all stuck in the slow lane, settling for speeds between 768 kbps to 8 megabits per second. I have often wondered what it would be like to have a 100 megabits per second, and what I would do with that much bandwidth.

So last month when Verizon (VZ) folks got in touch and talked about their 100 megabits per second experiments (over FiOS fiber) I was intrigued. (Of course that doesn’t mean that your FiOS connection is going to be getting an upgrade anytime soon.)

They said I could do an e-interview with Richard S. Guziewicz, one of the two Verizon employees testing this testing this experimental set-up. I just couldn’t resist asking him about the 100 Mbps-life, and if that much speed had really changed his online life. (His connection is 100 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up.) I took out some relevant bits from the email interview (sanitized by Verizon PR) for this post.

Since for the most part the Internet and most services that use the Internet don’t run that fast, it would be tough to say it’s a life-changing experience right now. The up-front answer is it works well. I use my 100 Mbps FiOS connection for typical web access (e-mail, news, etc), some online video, as well as for work (VPN access).

The applications of today are clearly optimized for our 3-to-6 megabits per second connections. From Facebook to MySpace to YouTube – they all work well on what passes for broadband in the US and Europe. Guziewicz pointed out that despite higher speeds, the usage behavior hadn’t really changed.

Nothing that new yet. I’ve found that all the things I did on my PC with 15Mbps service, I can do with 100Mbps. If I visited web sites that were optimized to allow true 100 Mbps downloads, then I might be able to say it makes a difference.

Video, rather online video would have been one obvious application where the excess bandwidth should help right away, though from Guziewicz’s comments it doesn’t seem so. (Of course no one would talk-out loud about torrentastic life on the record ;-) .)

I visit streaming sites such as YouTube, Metacafe, and CNN but they don’t require super high speeds. Some video download sites might benefit but generally they don’t support very high speeds either. For instance, I have a 100 Mbps pipe to my home, but if I try to download a file from a certain HD video site, I find I may get only 3 Mbps of download speed, which I believe is a limitation of the site and its servers.

Guziewicz’s comments dovetail with my post from last week about Internet Infrastructure. It wasn’t an “Internet is broken” dooms day post. Instead it was an attempt to point out that we need to prepare for a network that can support more immersive and interactive applications to bloom. My biggest lament was that there weren’t many next generation infrastructure companies getting off the ground.

Anyway, what would you do with 100 megabits/second connection if you had one!

  1. It should be fairly obvious – youtube et al are going to be traffic shaped to ensure no single user gobbles up all their available bandwidth. Plus, general internet latency will also play a big part here.

    So i’m really keen to see home-user speeds at the 100mb/s level, but we’re pretty close to the point where no tangible gain can be made – it’s pretty hard to overcome the physical distance between your house and the server farm.

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    1. I actually have 100 MBs and…

      It’s very dissapointing. VERY VERY dissapointing. The only time I got an outstanding 8 MBs p/s download was when I downloaded nvidia’s new drivers. Other than that it’s like my old 24 MBs connection.

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  2. I found the application that would require at least 10 Mbps upload speed. Sharpcast. Since I backup my photos online one album of few 100 photos would easily take up to 500 Mb and it takes forever with my DSL connection…I haven’t found one which would use 100Mpbs download though…

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  3. Absolutely nothing; I cannot think of a single legitimate need I have for that kind of last-mile pipe, for reasons mostly made evident by the interviewee.

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  4. I’m not looking for 100 to my house..however 10/10 or 20/20 would be the cat’s meow for me. Linux iso’s and movie downloads at the same time would not kill my bandwidth for the rest of the family.

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  5. [...] Broadband yoursankar 8:41 pm Om Malik wonders what would I do with a 100 Mbps broadband connection. [...]

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  6. I have 20Mb FIOS. Only a few sites can keep it busy. The vast majority are doing throttling of some kind and I get 5Mb or less from them.

    It does help with multiple users in the household. With Comcast a large transfer would noticeably disrupt other users.

    The backbone is supposed to have plenty of spare capacity, I have spare capacity, so where is the bottleneck? Is throttling being used to avoid bandwidth costs with 95% billing?

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  7. It will definitely benefit P2P applications and that’s the area where you will see some big innovation first.

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  8. P2P2P2P2P2P2P2P2P2P2P2P2P2P

    (For those of you choking, there are plenty of LEGAL uses for P2P!)

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  9. Alas, if other apps, sites and the servers that they run on had the backend technology to actually make use of the 100 Mbps FiOS then Woot! As it is, I spend a great deal of time online in Second Life hosting events that requires streaming audio as well as multi-tasking with other graphic apps, playing iTunes, downloading music (legally of course!), chatting on Yahoo, Gmail, MSN and answering the odd Skype call all within the same time frame. If having a 100 Mbps FiOS would make these tasks any better ….. then hey.

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  10. Are you kidding? 100 mbps might be overkill but I don’t want latency even for basic surfing, downloading files, research, etc.

    Many of us make our living online and slow definitely impedes personal productivity. Any time you are waiting you are probably unproductive because there is only so much leverage to be had from multi-tasking, we just can’t switch contexts that fast.

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