Why we need to win the battle for an ultrafast Internet

Do you really think the ISPs are giving us enough bandwidth? Think again

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The reason we need broadband in speeds much, much higher than 50Mbps, 100Mbps, or even 500Mbps is because it will fuel a revolution. Remember what happened when we emerged from the murky depths of dial-up? When residences and businesses could access relatively cheap 1Mbps or 2Mbps DSL circuits, the Web exploded, and the massive decrease in latency has fostered faster and more streamlined production. Even the relatively sluggish "broadband" most of us have now has produced all kinds of unplanned, unexpected results.

Audio and video streaming were in their infancy then, but have since become commonplace. Overall, conducting business over the Internet has never been easier. For example, recording studios can ship huge lossless audio tracks to other studios over their Internet connections in hours, rather than burning CDs or using USB flash drives and tossing them in a FedEx envelope. It's just a tiny example of how we've embraced the broadband we have now, though it's clearly subpar compared to where it should and could be today.

Now imagine what would be possible if we had cheap, ubiquitous, truly high-speed wired network connections, much like what Google Fiber offers. Add high-speed wireless connectivity without oppressive bandwidth caps and make those connections available worldwide. What would we then take for granted that seems to be a pipe dream or not even a thought bubble yet today? How many new industries will be created out of thin air simply because more bandwidth is available to the average person? To get an inkling of the answer to that question, just consider how many technology industries exist now that had absolutely no chance of evolving in the days of dial-up.

This is a major reason why Google is bringing fiber to the home and business. The company's bread and butter revolves around ubiquitous broadband Internet access, the faster the better. Google's products and revenue-generation engines work better the faster people can use its services. The incumbent ISPs are an active impediment to Google in many ways. How better to move that mountain than to beat the ISPs at their own game?

It's said that those who don't understand history are doomed to repeat it. That's true. But it's also true that those who do understand history are doomed to watch it happen again and again. I hope that the history we're repeating is the one that moved us from dial-up to DSL and not the one that allowed Ma Bell to throttle communications innovation for decades.

This story, "Why we need to win the battle for an ultrafast Internet," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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