One gigabit of synchronous Internet capacity. This is the promise of Google Fiber to the home. This amount of bandwidth sounds great when you only have 15 megabit download speed and perhaps 1 megabit upload speed today (if you're lucky). But why does one need 1 gigabit Internet speed at home? What problems does it solve?
I spoke with Houston and Ryan, founders of the interactive marketing company Full Metal Chicken, who compared it to the depth of a swimming pool: Gigabit capacity itself may not solve problems directly, but what it does is make the water deeper. You can dive in without hitting your head on the bottom. Deeper water gives you the chance for more opportunities. Here are a few examples:
An immediate benefit of gigabit capacity is elimination of buffering when streaming videos from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, or other video source. Cable companies like Comcast routinely compress their TV video signal. You would not have to do so with a Google Fiber gigabit connection.
For those of us using our phones and cameras to capture video footage we will be able to upload our videos to YouTube and Vimeo 100 times faster than we can today! Imagine uploading videos which used to take 45 minutes, now taking less than a minute.
Music will also queue up and stream faster with the extra bandwidth gigabit provides. High definition images will download and upload much faster. If you have 100 high definition pictures you'll be able to upload them 100 times faster than today. For those of us with multiple people in our household, all online simultaneously using bandwidth, a gigabit connection will make the experience so much smoother for everyone. The world of Entertainment at home will change for the better.
At-home diagnosis, monitoring, and even the sharing of high definition x-rays is possible with a gigabit connection to the home. We've been promised tele-medicine for years, but have seen implementation delayed due to lack of bandwidth (or in the case of the earlier analogy, the water wasn't deep enough to swim). Doctors and hospitals can push content but the home user needs the capacity to absorb it. Gigabit connections will make it possible.
Imagine anytime, anywhere transmission and viewing of medical files and images. A doctor can pull these up from home and send them directly to the patient's home. Yes privacy and HIPAA requirements will need to be enforced on these transmissions, but at least it will become possible. Bandwidth will no longer keep this from happening.
Gigabit Internet capacity to the home will open opportunities that don't exist today. Just like when we went from dial-up Internet to Broadband, users will find a way to consume the bandwidth. This will foster entrepreneurship as it brings to the forefront companies that can use the capacity. Startup business models which don't work today can happen when bandwidth is not a limiter. Existing companies can also expand their product lines and take advantage of the increased capabilities.
Consider for example replication of data being performed in real-time, syncing continuously instead of in a Cron job. Large data files can easily be downloaded, manipulated, and uploaded again, bringing Big Data jobs to telecommuters and the work-from-home market. Businesses will be encouraged to move to cities with the gigabit Internet infrastructure which allows the business model to succeed. Talented people, particularly those in tech, will flock to cities that have gigabit infrastructure.
Universities will benefit as students will have gigabit connection to their homes, allowing much greater use of online education. Similar to healthcare, the education sector can utilize gigabit connections for transmission of very large files, videos, and images, with a smooth and buffer-less experience. Online research with access to massive amounts of data will become easier and faster.
* Note: In order to achieve gigabit internet speeds you need to have a computer, modem, and AC wi-fi router that support the speed. We recently purchased a gigabit wif-fi router for less than $100 (TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router) and have been pleased with the results.
We don't know all the potential uses of an infrastructure with gigabit Internet speed, but we do know it will enable new businesses and capabilities that cannot be done today. Gigabit infrastructure will attract talent to Charlotte and pave the way for economic growth for the city for years to come.