After my recent piece on the cost of small office/home office bandwidth was published, I heard from many people. Some sample responses to Verizon's new monthly deal of 150 Megabits per second (Mbps) down and 35Mbps up for $194.99 include: "I pay $40 a month now and it works fine, why do I want to pay 5x as much for capacity I don't miss?" "Okay, understand that I do, like 120% of my work on the Internet, I don't think I could justify ~$200/month." And, "You buying? Then yes. Otherwise, ha ha ha ha ha."
OK. I get it. Verizon is going to have a hard row to hoe to find customers willing to pay almost $200 a month for business-class broadband. The reasons Verizon gives for people to want to the deal that "consumers can download a two-hour, standard-definition movie (1.5 gigabytes) in less than 80 seconds, and a two-hour HD movie (5 GB) in less than four and a half minutes," and, "Downloading 20 high-resolution photographs (100 megabytes) would take less than five and a half seconds using the 150/35 Mbps service. With the 35 Mbps upstream speed, consumers can upload those same 20 high-resolution photos in less than 23 seconds," aren't that compelling. Well, not at that price-point anyway.
I see compelling reasons coming though. For example, Internet video is the future of television. Indeed, Netflix is already moving from DVDs to streaming. As we move from lossy encoded 720p HDTV to 1080p and 3D TV that 150Mbps won't be looking so much like overkill as it does now.
In addition, video games like World of Warcraft are already available in 1080p. Others will soon join them. I can also foresee shopping shopping Web sites with 3D animations and HDTV.
We're also already seeing more and more end-user programs migrating to the Web. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) used to be a business only proposition. Today, many of us, including yours truly, use Google Docs on a regular basis. Google's Chrome operating system will have a minimum Linux desktop footprint, but will rely on Google applications for almost everything else.
It's not just Google driving this though. Microsoft is also diving into the SaaS end of the pool. While Microsoft wants to sell you Microsoft Office, they won't object too much if you subscribe to their lightweight Office applications on Office 365. There's also talk going around that Windows 8 may be a desktop-as-a-service.
All these entertainment, shopping and office programs are going to need a lot of bandwidth. Besides, there will be other applications we haven't even dreamed up yet that will take every bit of Internet connectivity we can get and more besides.
I know you may not see this happening yet, but I assure you it will. The rumor goes that Bill Gates once said, "640K ought to be enough for anybody" and that Thomas Watson, founder of IBM once remarked that "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." Just as we somehow found need for much more memory and a lot more computers. we will find uses for all that bandwidth. Perhaps HD cosplay World of Warcraft gaming? And, after we have dreamed up these applications, we'll wonder how we ever lived without them.
That is, for those of us who will get access to that kind of bandwidth at any price. In 2010, I still have one friend who's stuck with a 56 Kilobit per second (Kbps) modem access. While my updated saying goes "You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too much bandwidth," it's also true that while some of us will have access to 100Mbps to 1Gpbs bandwidth, many others won't. We still need to address this issue or we'll be a nation, a world, of digital haves and digital have-nots.