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Summary:

Unless you live in a part of the U.S. that has super-fast Internet or fiber connections, you’re pretty much stuck with buying your broadband connection from either a cable company or a phone operator. The download speed on either is a crapshoot. But while we wring […]

Unless you live in a part of the U.S. that has super-fast Internet or fiber connections, you’re pretty much stuck with buying your broadband connection from either a cable company or a phone operator. The download speed on either is a crapshoot. But while we wring our hands over the limits of our choices, the rest of the planet keeps getting faster speeds.

In Amsterdam, where they already have a fiber optic network, they’re now thinking about upgrading it to symmetrical speeds of up to 1 GB Gbps. On Sept. 10th, fiber optic network owners GlasvezelNet Amsterdam, BBned and InterNLnet will show off such speeds on a live fiber optic network in the Osdorp region. Nearly 40,000 households are connected to this network. Speeds like this are more than enough to offer, say, four parallel HD streams on one connection, something the three companies plan to show off as well.

Such speeds are going to become a reality in places around the planet soon enough, especially in places where fiber broadband is being deployed. Here in the U.S., meanwhile, market leaders such as AT&T and Comcast are proposing the implementation of caps, a move that will only serve to cause problems for innovators.

As the pending experiment in Amsterdam shows, broadband technology is improving, which allows broadband providers to offer faster speeds at lower prices. The problems are more of an analog nature. Today, for example, Broadband Stakeholder Group, the UK government’s advisory group on broadband, released a report that said that it would cost between £5.1 billion ($9 billion) and £28.8 billion ($50.8 billion) (depending on the technology used) to do a UK-wide fiber rollout. Why is the network so expensive? Not technology, but rather, according to the report: “The largest single cost component is the civil infrastructure (the cost of deploying and installing the fibre in new or existing ducts).”

What that means is that sooner or later, broadband providers are going to have to bite the bullet and upgrade to fiber-based networks. Sure the technology is going to get cheaper, but the fixed costs aren’t going to change anytime soon. So the longer they wait, the longer they’ll have to wait to make their money back.

  1. NO! The carriers won’t build out fiber everywhere. They will build out to the same people who have faster speeds now. Network quality will be like cars, education, vacation and housing quality. The difference between “the haves” and “have nots” will get bigger, not smaller in a nonlinear way. If you live in a area with lots of buried plant you are in deep trouble. If you are rural, ex-suburban or even in some cases suburban you are in deep trouble…

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  2. You don’t happen to know anyone from that place who want to hire me? :)

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  3. Raghu Kulkarni Monday, September 8, 2008

    Om,

    1GB bandwidth or anything close to is absolutely terrific for cloud storage providers. With our strategic focus on using existing open protocols such as NFS and CIFS to provide cloud storage (http://www.idrive.com/oss/), businesses will be seamlessly integrate cloud storage offerings from us with their LAN almost to the point where users can’t even tell where the storage is located!

    Raghu Kulkarni
    Pro Softnet Corp

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  4. [...] – GigaOm: High levels of demand for third generation devices such as Apple’s iPhone 3G – are clear indications of consumers wanting faster internet services. This article touches on the topic and points out that Europeans are doing something about it. In Amsterdam, Netherlands for instance, where the fiber optic network is already existent, they are thinking about upgrading to symmetrical speeds of connection of up to 1/GB. Britain is also evaluating the cost of connecting the country to a 1Gbit/s network, which according to a report published by “The Broadband Stakeholder Group” – the government’s advisory group on broadband, could cost as much as $52 billion. Certainly not an easy undertaking when considering the scale of the costs combined with issues that involve essentially the rewriting of the rules of how telecom service is defined, funded and delivered, and re-examining the goals for which it is delivered. But, in a fast technologically-advancing world – these are issues that have to be confronted sooner or later. [GigaOm] [...]

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  5. [...] fiber optic companies in Amsterdam are testing 1 gigabit connections, internet speeds fast enough for four simultaneous HD movies at [...]

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  6. [...] Such speeds are going to become a reality in places around the planet soon enough, especially in places where fiber broadband is being deployed. Here in the U.S., meanwhile, market leaders such as AT&T and Comcast are proposing the implementation of caps, a move that will only serve to cause problems for innovators.(GigaOm) [...]

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  7. I hate to nitpick, but I will anyway. I expect GigaOM to be very accurate as most articles are extremely well written and informative. I have to say that the title of this article was very misleading. It refers to “GB” fiber broadband. This, in fact, isn’t what is being offered. Instead, it’s “Gb” fiber broadband.

    The difference is that “GB” refers, typically, to storage. I’m sure that some day it won’t, but not right now. 1 GB is equal to 1,024,000,000 bytes, though storage companies have moved away from the older binary (multiples of 2) to a decimal format. This means that storage companies are calling 1 GB equal to 1,000,000,000 bytes.

    1 Gb, when referring to broadband, is decimal and means 1,000,000,000 bits. This is an 8-10 fold difference depending upon who you are talking to. This is why your downloads show, say “600 KB/s” when downloading in Windows environments, even though you bought a 6 Mb broadband “pipe”. The two are equivalent.

    Sorry to nitpick.

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  8. Carolyn Pritchard Tuesday, September 9, 2008

    @PBP: Not at all — thank for you for pointing it out. That’s been corrected.

    best, Carolyn

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  9. Actually it’s Gbps (Gigabit per second) and not Gpbs, as currently written.

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  10. [...] (GNA), BBNed and InterNLnet have conducted a pilot of 1Gbps symmetric fibre-optic connections. The trial was carried out in the Amsterdam districts of Osdorp, Zeeburg and [...]

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