The “need for speed” has been with mankind for the millennium. Whether it be running, horses, cars, boats or planes or almost any other thing, we always want it faster. The same has been true of the internet. In the early days back in 1993 the best anyone could get for an internet connection was via dial-up and while they advertised it as 56 kbps the reality was always slower. And the amazing part was back in those days we were happy to have it and thought it was amazing. Your connection may say you had that speed of connection but as soon as you started to do something or tried to download, the actual speed dipped way down and you were often lucky if you could get 12 to 14 kbps. This seems like child’s play compared to today.
Well over the past 20 years things have certainly changed! It seems we will never be satisfied and we will always want it faster, and thankfully that is exactly what we are seeing and will continue to see. In the fiber based broadband world of today the average consumer easily sees speeds that measure in the mbps. In a recent report ranking the top 20 countries for highest average internet speed we see that Hong Kong has the fastest average at 65.4 mbps. To keep this is global perspective, the average internet speed 17.9 mbps. See the chart below to see if your country made the top 20 in the world (you might be surprised by some of the winners).
And while these speeds are fast (remember, they reflect the average), tomorrow is already being prepared for even fast speeds. Cities around the world are already laying out networks that will be providing 1 Gbps and faster. (1 Gbps = 1,000 Mbps). With a 1 Gbps internet connection you could download 25 songs in 1 second. In 2 seconds you could download your favorite TV program and in a mere 36 seconds you could download a full length HD movie. And in the time it takes to watch that first movie, you could download an additional 183 more HD movies. At this rate you may never get off of your couch.
But the impact of all of this speed is more than just the convenience of downloading songs, TV shows and movies. The increased productivity to business is huge. It has been forecast that gigabit internet could potentially increase some businesses productivity by as much as 2 to three times. The impact to the bottom line is obvious. When we look at the relationship of super fast internet to e-commerce it is even more obvious. It is an accepted fact today that online shoppers are a very impatient group. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to build potential shoppers drop off your site at an alarming rate and go to shop at your competitors. With this hyper fast internet screen builds would be nearly instant and probably measures in milliseconds. Online transactions would never leave a customer sitting and staring at the screen while the website checks inventory, delivery schedules and the clients credit card. Sales would be closed in the blink of an eye and we all know that happy customers come back more often and spend more dollars.
The impacts to virtually any business that has an online presence, or requires huge amounts of bandwidth between office (such as engineering centers, hospitals, etc) would all realize huge benefits instantly. And this is just the start. Backbone networks are already positioned to be upgraded to 150 Gbps – and if that ever gets to your house you will be able to download 4 HD movies in a single second. Heaven for couch potatoes.