March 30, 2011 will be an important date in Kansas City history - it is fitting that the announcement was made at a historic landmark.
Today Google announced Kansas City will soon have the world's fastest Internet with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We understand people instinctively know this is an important and historic announcement but also that you've got a job already and being a huge Internet geek is not part of that job description. You live in Kansas City and care about its success, why is this announcement so important?
First, some perspective.
What are your current speeds? Well, we can't be sure but you can check out speedtest.net if you're curious. Two prevalent local services include AT&T and Time Warner. For better or worse these companies, and the broadband industry, represent a great example of an oligopoly in the United States. 95%+ of US households have access to two or fewer broadband service providers. A lack of choices, leads to a lack of competition, which leads to stagnant and unhealthy market conditions. While the Internet was invented in the United States, we're not even in the top 25 for data speed and our services cost more than any other country.
Time Warner customers can expect a best case of about 15 Mbps for downloading and 1 Mbps for uploading. AT&T, and DSL customers vs cable customers in general, can expect even slower conditions of about 7 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. DSL is slower because it runs over telephone lines. DSL is the two-lane highway - yes, you spend your time driving by yourself but it's still slow going. Two-lane highways were just built for another era and DSL infrastructure was built for calling your friend and getting the busy signal before answering machines and call waiting. Cable is the newer highway - more lanes and higher speed limits.
Time Warner's speed is set manually by the company. 15 Mbps is already twice as fast as the competition so that's a good place to be to charge twice as much. Why only 1 Mbps for uploading? Simple. Uploading is generally a good indication you're a business and providing some type of Internet application or other service. Time Warner wants to find you so they can charge you 10x or 20x what they'd charge a consumer. The modem in your house right now is likely capable of 100/100 Mbps speeds but without competition and providers fighting for customers to see who can come closest to maxing out home modems, there's no reason for the incumbents to challenge the status quo. AT&T makes twice as much profit as Google, yet Google is making this investment in the Kansas City community for next generation broadband infrastructure? At Umzuzu we're not complacent but we're not complaining either - it could be much worse!
How fast will Kansas City's new ultra high-speed broadband be?
About 1,000 Mbps! How fast is that? That's about how fast you can grab data from your hard drive! It's no secret we're bullish on ChromeOS and the fundamental changes it represents - at these speeds you can pull data from Google's servers at the same speed you can pull it from the hard drive sitting inside your laptop. Desktop applications utilize data on your hard drive while services like Google Apps pull data from Google servers all over the world. An application like Google Apps is fast on today's connections but what becomes possible at 1,000 Mbps? We were discussing these speeds with executives from Cerner Corporation, obviously imaging comes to mind. CAT Scans, MRI's, X-ray, EKG's and more ... live streaming simultaneously to multiple physicians, who are also video conferencing with each other? A physician could also review the imaging data at anytime and on any device saving everyone time and money. Honestly though, it's impossible for us to imagine what will be possible with the world's fastest Internet.
The Wright Brother's couldn't have imagined the potential of 100x more speed but we manged to figure it out. Kansas City is going to put Google's tremedous gift to great use!