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.