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A Man & His 100 Mbps Fiber Connected Life

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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 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.) [digg=]

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!

88 Responses to “A Man & His 100 Mbps Fiber Connected Life”

  1. I teach English in South Korea, and I have a 100 MBPS connection that I pay roughly $40USD for each month. I have to say, it’s pretty nice. I’ll be sad when I have to go back home and have a slow as a turtle connection. Hopefully we can beef things up in the US.

  2. I would run my own servers at home with 100mbit upstream for SURE! I really do not care about the downstream, that is already more than plenty at my current 10mbit, it’s just that sucky upstream which is doing my head in.. As a consumer you can’t run a reasonable server without co-locating in a real datacenter.

    GIEF 100MBIT & TF2 NOW PLX!!

  3. paul rickett

    100Mb/s in Japan is rather standard, they are pushing 1Gb/s here now. I only have the 100Mb/s line and love downloading DVD iso’s in 3-4mins from Japanese mirrors :D

  4. Yeah, in india, its NOWHERE even CLOSE to what the ENTRY-level internet services are out there in the US…. the saddest part is that 50% of the population is still on dialup !! — a 256k connection comes for around $35 a month !!

  5. “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 thought we in Malaysia are in the slow lane. Didn’t think that we have company in your country.

  6. Adding on to William Luu’s comment. In India we have broadband starting from 256kbps and all ISP’s have a cap on free downloads/uploads. Typical rates being –

    1) 256kbps-2Mbps/1GB ~ $7/month (your bandwidth can be anywhere between 256kbps and 2Mbps)
    2) 2Mbps/30GB ~ $85/month
    3) 256kbps/unlimited* ~ $25/month

    • No unlimited data plans @ 2Mbps!

    I wonder if putting a cap on your free downloads/uploads is practiced worldwide or its unique for India (though I see it happening in Australia as well).

    In case of bandwidth, the more you get the more you consume, so thinking that we won’t be able to consume 100Mbps may not be correct. I started with 56kbps dialup shared over various computers in a cyber cafe and there were no youtubes in those days and now I am happily eating 2Mbps and yearning for more. I am sure I will get something appropriate to consume at 100Mbps and then my son won’t believe me if I make him read this post and my comment herein.


  7. For years I had 100Mbps at Twente University in The Netherlands. It’s not relevant that you can max out the line. It’s what you can do in parallel. You can stream a movie to one pc and at the same time stream a movie from that pc to somewhere else. At the same time you can still have a chat/cam session running, download a new linux distro etc. (That was just one person in a dormroom, think of the average american family with teens, 3.2 televisions a Tivo and 2 PC’s) And the great thing is all these actions feel like they are instantaneous.

    When I left campus I stopped downloading. It was just too slow. When you can download a movie and immediately watch it (same with Youtube, but then with files of 300MB or more) it becomes very intuitive to do so. Time is also an important factor. It just takes less time to do something when you have more bandwidth. You won’t max it out all the time, but it will save time. Don’t forget that when it takes only 3 minutes to upload a home made movie of 1 GB to a buddy across campus or at another uni you will do it. On your DSL it will take forever and you won’t. (Just like you scaled down pictures when you were on dial-up and now just send the full 5 megapixel shot, because you’re on broadband and have Gmail)

    In short: More Bandwidth == more in parallel == less time per activity

  8. This is some news, it may get anyone jealous of her… lucky her !!
    fine, main thing is usage of such connection, as there are lots of things one can do with such a speed, not many (a normal user) would have perfect idea to go for…

    last note, I hope India will have some good speedy connection (I’m fed up with 256 kbps), in near future ?!!

  9. I have 20mbit residential service with SureWest Broadband. It’s a chunk of change every month I GLADLY part with, and it’s the primary reason I bought my house.

    The service is AWESOME, but I have found 20mbit is about optimal for me and 3-5 other people doing hardcore data work during the day. It’s enough. 100 MBIT is probably more than you need for all but the highest bandwidth applications.

    But, more telling than anything else was that my startup employees stopped going to the office and started hanging out at my house to take advantage of the speed.

    My 2c.

  10. I use a second residence in Stockholm (Kista) Sweden which has 100 Mbps included in the rent (Ethernet coming off fiber??). I have tested the line to around 50+Mbps to Swedish test sites, but there really are few servers that can handle 100 Mbps transfers. But 24 Mbps DSL is not bad — that is the capacity in Riga, where I spend most of my time, but it is throttled to around 10 Mbps (Lattelecom, I guess, is saving the extra capacity for future HD IPTV or the like). On the 10 Mbps DSL lines, they take around 4 Mbps for ordinary IPTV when one uses it.

  11. Yeah, right now, there really aren’t any apps that need all that bandwidth. I’ve got an 8 Mb/s down connection and it’s hard to max it out.

    But right around the corner, there are potential killer apps lurking – simply waiting for the average residential bandwidth to rise.

    What are we talking about? Here’s two:

    • Movie downloads. At 8 Mb/s, it’d take 2.3 hours to donload an 8 GB movie. But at 100 Mb/s, it takes just 11 minutes! 11 minutes is workable; 2.3 hours is not.

    I’m betting that as soon as 100 Mb/s connections are common, we’ll see Blockbuster and NetFlix and all the rest offering downloads. In fact, they’re positioning themselves in that market already.

    As soon as it’s fast and convenient, movie downloads will take off big. Really BIG.

    Why go and fight traffic and then stand in line when you can sit at home in comfort, browse the same movie catalog, and point and click? You start the download, go pop some popcorn, make a drink, come back and it’s done. Burn it onto a DVD, insert into machine and let’s go!

    Yeah, I know about the DRM problems the major studios have. But I’m sure all that will be resolved by the time downloads are feasible.

    • Videophones – another killer app. Right now the bandwidth just isn’t sufficient to really offer full motion video (in a window bigger than a postage stamp). It wouldn’t take 100 Mb/s to make videophones really work, but that much bandwidth wouldn’t hurt, either.

    This is a natural extention of VoIP. Look at Skype. Their present video service doesn’t work that well – it’s buggy (from all the compression and what not) and the video maxes at about 15 FPS. But Skype shows the promise of things to come if everyone had sufficient bandwidth.

    I’ve used Skype Video to talk to my dad, and actually, even with all it’s problems and limitations, it’s cool as all get out. It’s like being there with him – way different than talking on the phone. Way better!

    If everyone had 100 Mb/s connections videophones with full-motion 30 FPS large-format (better than 1600×1200) video would flourish – why would anyone want to do a voice only call when you could SEE the person you were talking to?

    Better yet, they can incorporate videophone hardware/software into the next-gen Playstation and Xbox consoles – then you can make calls using your widescreen HDTV!

    That’s just two killer apps that will quickly come into their own as soon as there’s bandwidth to support them. I’m sure there are many others.

    I’m itchin’ for that time to come…

    We all need 100 Mb/s! RIGHT NOW!

  12. Windows Scaling is an issue. As yusufg says, 100ms latency would slow down your speed.

    I can think of few uses:
    * P2P sharing (perhaps downloading HD DVDs)
    * Content pre-fetching (using Firefox add-on)

    Either way, I don’t believe speeds over 8Mbps are neccessary for regular Joe connected from home.

  13. One site that I would like to try out on that 100Mbps connection is the Apple movie trailers website. I visit it quite frequently and downloading the 1080p HD trailers maxes out my 15Mbps FiOS connection, and considering the trailers are often 150MB+ something that fast would be nice.

    Another interesting thing to think about in the future is once YouTube upgrades to the new Flash player that allows H.264 encoding. I think this will allow Google to ramp up video quality and resolution in the future, especially as more and more people get HD Camcorders. Maybe in the not too distant future we’ll see a YouTube with the quality of the new .Mac Web Video Galleries? (hey, one can dream!)

  14. Microsoft mentions in one of their Windows Vista whitepaper that

    “Without window scaling, you can only achieve a throughput of approximately 5 megabits per second (Mbps) on a path with a 100 millisecond RTT, regardless of the path bandwidth.”

    Coast to Coast RTT is around 100 millisecond.

    Maybe faster broadband speeds need to be experienced with a refresh of network infrastructure (routers/firewalls) some of which may be preventing Window scaling

  15. I’m just wondering whether those speeds are just for local traffic (and maybe just “in theory speeds”), while their international speeds are much slower (but still fast).

    Honestly though, if you think you guys in the US are stuck in the slow lane, come down to Australia!

    Most plans here start from about 256kbps up to 1.5Mbps. Although, some areas do provide an ADSL 2/+ connection, it’s not available everywhere and it tends to be not very economically viable.

    Here’s a few ADSL plan prices (from
    – 256/64 (up/down): $29.95 w/ 15 GB data.
    – 512/128 : $39 w/ 25 GB data.
    – 1.5Mbps/256k : $49 w/ 15 GB data.

    And if you want cable:
    – 10Mbps*/256k : $79.95 w/ 20 GB data.

    • Although cable speeds state 10Mbps, that’s just a theoretical speed provided by the telco.

    Also, Australia doesn’t have many undersea cables that reach out to the rest of the world, so that makes internet data more expensive. From memory, in operation today are Southern Cross Cable (links to the US via Hawaii), and AJC (Australia Japan Cable). Two local telcos (Optus and Telstra) have major shares in the aforementioned cables (Optus in Southern Cross, and Telstra in the AJC).

  16. Christopher Estep

    Jon, bandwidth and QoS costs are very much an issue (peering agreements aren’t cheap, either); also, building infrastructure to handle the additional bandwidth isn’t cheap, either (look at how much Level-3 is paying to build their own national fiber network in the United States).

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. Jon Smirl

    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?

  20. 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.

  21. 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…

  22. 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.

    • 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.