I spoke with Hunter Goosmann regarding Google's consideration of a fiber network in Charlotte. Hunter is the Executive Director of ERC Broadband, an Asheville, NC based non-profit providing fiber-based network services to the Western Carolina region. I asked him his thoughts of the Google announcement and his response was they “threw down a gauntlet”. Essentially this means that Google is challenging companies to compete with them. Let's hope the existing residential Internet providers pick up the gauntlet and compete!
Hunter expressed the response we want to see from existing providers, a positive one where he welcomed the competition, felt good about his own company's capabilities, and thought Google would help raise the bar for everyone. ERC Broadband isn't the only company to feel this way. On March 11 RST announced they were making North Carolina the first Gigabit state. RST’s network offers up to 100-gigabit per second, symmetrical broadband service to businesses and homes in metropolitan and rural communities statewide. North State also announced their plan for gigabit broadband service for "tens of thousands" of customers in its service area in High Point and surrounding areas by the end of the year. It appears these companies picked up the gauntlet prior to it being thrown down! It's great to see infrastructure providers getting ahead of the curve and increasing capacity. Let's hope they can compete with the pricing gauntlet Google laid out in Kansas City.
So why do we need the full Gigabit synchronous connection? Applications today such as video uploading, collaboration tools, Netflix downloads, etc. are already pushing the envelope for traditional connections. For example here is a speedtest from my house on TWC broadband:
Not bad for traditional standards. I remember when upload speeds were in the 384-768 kb range, so getting a full megabit upstream is better than before. But what does this mean in every day life? Recently I recorded a video of a pitch made at Tech Breakfast Charlotte, compressed it from ~1 Gb down to 182Mb and uploaded it to my Vimeo account from my house. How long did it take? About 25 minutes. Imagine if I hadn't compressed it! So is Gb upload speed in demand now? For anyone uploading large files such as video it sure is.
A Gigabit connection also prepares us for the future and the Internet of Things. This Scrolling Interactive published on the CNN website explains how everyday items are becoming connected to the Internet. Your coffee maker, your refrigerator, your clock, your thermostats...the list of potential connected devices is almost limitless. Each of these devices will require online connection, driving the need for more and more bandwidth. This is no different than when wireless devices gained first 3G connections, and now 4G connections. We are doing things on our smartphones and tablets that were not possible 5 years ago.
By increasing the capabilities of the Internet infrastructure we unleash a variety of new products and services, lower costs, and enrich our lives. We support Google Fiber in Charlotte and the “throwing down of the gauntlet”. We hope all Internet infrastructure companies pick up that gauntlet and compete for our service.