The Success and Future of High-Speed Internet
Global access to high-speed internet continues to grow exponentially. As more of the world's population logs on, it makes us wonder: What is the future of high-speed internet?
According to research, the average American has access to 10 internet-connected devices. By contrast, the average Japanese person owns about 6 internet-connected devices. This translates to nearly 50% more devices per person than some other nations with access to high-speed internet. However, we manage less than 50% of the average Internet speeds for the nations with the fastest internet, such as Jersey and Liechtenstein.
So, this shows us that we have far more devices per person, but many other countries have much faster internet service. Why is this? Well, there is no single, simple answer. In fact, there are many reasons that can quickly complicate the topic.
For example, Japan and South Korea (who each have slightly better internet speeds compared to the USA) have a major advantage of geography - with cities linked closely together - making it easier to install and support high-speed Internet infrastructure. But, what else could be in play? And, where do we go from here?
Contributing Factors to Slow Internet Speeds in the US
The USA is geographically larger and has a higher population density - meaning it's harder to spread internet infrastructure across cities. It also means that many people are far away from the physical servers where their data is stored. A user in New York City browsing websites on servers in San Francisco can experience speeds slower than another person in Denver browsing sites on servers in Los Angeles.
Aside from the distance information must travel through the internet, another important factor that contributes to internet speeds is competition among broadband internet service providers (ISPs). When competition increases between companies, the companies themselves must find ways to provide a more user-friendly and innovative product in order to outcompete their rivals.
Generally, service providers have little incentive to upgrade infrastructure when it's not necessary for them to do so. ISPs tend to focus on areas with high population density because it is more profitable. Therefore, inaction from the government also contributes to slower speeds.
As a result, unless the government steps in to provide incentives or subsidies, it becomes difficult for smaller towns and rural areas to have faster internet infrastructure because there is simply no profit incentive for ISPs to focus their efforts in those areas.
The good news? This is about to change. The 2021 Infrastructure Bill has allocated an additional $65 billion for investment in broadband infrastructure, with a strong emphasis on boosting connectivity in underserved areas. This is the largest investment in broadband infrastructure since the Telecom Act of 1996 (which deregulated and incentivized companies to invest in internet infrastructure).
Major Investments to Grow High-Speed Internet in the US
Here in the United States - where there's lots of open space between cities and we are retrofitting older technology on a vastly larger scale than other nations - we're taking major steps to catch up and re-establish our lead in the broadband arena. To achieve this, the annual investment in American high-speed Internet services is growing by leaps and bounds.
Over the last 20 years, the US has invested more than $300 billion into internet infrastructure. That investment is what allows us to enjoy surfing the web as effortlessly as we do today. Interestingly enough, according to Pew Research, an estimated 7% of Americans are not connected to the internet. Still, according to the 2021 Census, nearly 92% of Americans have at least one computer and 85% have broadband internet service.
From $300 billion over two decades to $65 billion in just a few years, this means the US is poised to dramatically improve connectivity scores. However, while investment is obviously a huge step in the right direction, the USA, Japan, and many other nations also have many major universities and research facilities putting an emphasis on science and technology - which can help develop better, faster, stronger Internet infrastructure.
All these figures are interesting in their own right, but what can they uncover about the future of global high-speed internet connection? In the next decade, as more and more citizens around the world become connected - through devices or otherwise - there will be a greater opportunity to use the information that we transmit to provide valuable insights into how we can improve our lives.
Data has the potential to help us make better-informed decisions and plan for a brighter future. Our world is increasingly becoming interconnected, and as more countries gain access to high-speed internet connectivity - we'll see what role this information will play in shaping our global society.
What is the Future of High-Speed Internet?
We all know the terms 4G and the latest buzz around 5G networks, but do you know what it really even means? Well, the "G" stands for generation, and it's basically just a way to differentiate the speeds of networks -- 4G being faster than 3G, for instance. These terms relate mostly to mobile internet capabilities.
But, another potential game-changer in terms of modernizing our internet infrastructure lies within the realm of 10G technology. No, we didn't skip over generations 6-9 to get us here. Rather, the "G" in this term stands by Gigabit, and 10G is a global initiative working to bring 10-gigabit residential connections to homes all over the world.
Currently, many households in the US enjoy 1 Gbps internet service. Things work pretty well as we stream to multiple devices and play HD games. Having a 10 Gbps connection means that we could download an entire 1 GB movie in just .8 seconds.
Since this type of bandwidth is significantly faster than the average US household's internet speed, which averaged at 11.9Mbps during the third quarter of last year, there is a good chance you will be hearing more about 10G in the near future.
What is the Future of Internet Connection?
As for the infrastructure required to support these speeds, fiber-optic cables will be used in this case. It is widely accepted that fiber-optics is the best, most future-technology-proof solution currently available to us.
Fiber optic cables are similar to the ones that bring you your favorite shows on Netflix or Hulu because they operate using light - transmitted down hair-thin strands of glass or plastic.
They are much thinner than traditional copper wires and transmit data faster than the average household internet connection mentioned above. However, there are currently no fiber-optic cables that run directly to your home.
Instead, they usually connect to a small box near or on your building called an Optical Network Terminal (ONT), which allows your ISP to access the network and provide you with service through traditional copper lines.
The ONT box plays an important role in fiber-optic cables. These cables, which are made of flexible bundles of glass fibers, transmit data by sending light through the fibers. The main components of these cables include strength members to hold the cable together and optical fibers that actually carry the signal - much like traditional copper cables.
ISPs are Jumping on the 10G Bandwagon
In 2020, Comcast announced they have achieved a big milestone in the road to 10G service becoming the standard for ISPs. One of the most significant drivers of their desire to win the 10G race is the fast-growing metaverse. In order to support a metaverse-centered web experience, internet providers must have the network infrastructure in place to support the speeds that VR and other metaverse-related web experiences will require.
Currently, Comcast has already achieved 4Gbps internet speeds through its innovative modem prototype created in conjunction with Broadcom. The modem utilizes what is known as a Full Duplex DOCSIS 4.0 system-on-chip (SoC). While these results were achieved only in a laboratory setting, Comcast is confident they can bring this technology to their customers as well as millions of internet users around the world.
What Technology will Replace the Internet?
There is an elephant in the room we collectively need to address. While this question is certainly open for debate, one thing is for sure: those who claim that the metaverse will replace the internet seem to be confused about the difference between the internet and the world wide web.
The internet is a massive system of servers that connects users to websites across the world, while the web is a way for users to present information to one another on these sites.
That's not to say that the metaverse will not have a profound impact on the types of devices incorporated into the internet's structure. But, all the hype around the metaverse really neglects to distinguish between the two terms. This sentiment has been echoed by Dr. Tom Furness who is commonly referred to as the "Grandfather of Virtual Reality."
Aside from how the metaverse will affect the way we experience the web, there is one form of internet technology that is far more likely to replace the internet. Quantum Computing will have a far more profound impact on the current internet infrastructure. This is partially because Quantum Computing has the potential to render our current security protocols powerless.
But, it is mostly because a server with Quantum Computing capabilities would be exponentially more powerful than a server without these capabilities. In other words, the infrastructure required to support Quantum Computing would also allow for better internet connectivity around the world – and could ultimately replace the current model of internet servers we use today.
It is not difficult to imagine the kind of problems that can arise when our current internet security methods and current internet infrastructure are rendered obsolete in a short period of time. This would be an issue for all facets of life, including global financial systems and international security.
And while it is clear that there are some interesting possibilities on the horizon, Comcast believes - as well as many others - it is best to keep our eyes on emerging quantum technologies.
Think Globally, Surf Locally
In today's age, there is a common consensus among the experts that monitor the trends of the digital world: "Think Globally, Surf Locally." With this in mind, it becomes clear that we need to focus on optimizing the ways we connect to the digital world and how we can interact with technology in a manner that is sustainable, responsible, and forward-thinking.
The infrastructure required to support this type of connectivity will need to be robust enough to accommodate transmitting exponentially more data at faster speeds—and it must remain constantly available.
This constantly connected world has the potential to impact every sector of life – from business and entertainment to education and public safety – and we can expect some interesting changes as more citizens around the world become connected.
From understanding the environmental effects of connectivity to improving our healthcare system by tailoring medications based on an individual's genetics with the assistance of telehealth programs, there are more possibilities than ever before.
By taking all of this - and more - into account, many experts believe the future growth of internet connectivity will remain steady in the hands of fiber-optic network providers.
These companies are largely in charge of building the framework that will support a sustainable and forward-thinking world. And, as more of the world comes online, we will continue to see data-driven technologies that impact our daily lives. Perhaps most importantly, this connectivity enables us to share ideas and learn from one another across geographic locations - bringing communities closer together through real-time collaboration.
So, What's Next?
As we have explored in this article, the technologies on the horizon are rapidly changing the way we connect to and surf around the web. The future of internet connectivity is bright and full of possibilities.
As the world becomes more connected, we will see data-driven technologies that touch our daily lives in ways never before imagined possible - from healthcare to education to communication methods for businesses. It's up to us as a society to embrace these changes and work together so they are implemented responsibly and with consideration for all stakeholders involved.
The team here at KonectEaze is excited about the future of connectivity around the world. And, we are delighted to have the opportunity to continue working with our partners in this space so that all internet users can experience an optimized web browsing experience.
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