A Man & His 100 Mbps Fiber Connected Life

[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!

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