Time To Start Thinking About Infinite Bandwidth
from the it-changes-things dept
One of the things that is truly amazing is how difficult it has been for anyone to accurately predict what happens as bandwidth becomes more and more commonplace. Most of the original assumptions were based on faulty views of old technology — i.e., the internet would become more like “tv” since it could handle the bandwidth. While there has been some of that, the more interesting elements have actually taken advantage of what the internet is good at: multi-directional communication, rather than one way broadcast communication. We already have television. We don’t need another one. But a platform that allows anyone to communicate with anyone — and with higher bandwidth? That starts to get interesting…
But, even now, as average bandwidth rates are orders of magnitude above what they were just a decade ago, people are having trouble recognizing the next revolution — when bandwidth is effectively infinite. However, it’s time to start thinking about what that allows, because bandwidth is only going to increase, and it’s only going to increase unique opportunities, applications and services. The article discusses a connected-Coke machine, which may seem like a small thing, and nothing to get excited about, but as you think about the progression, from simply alerting the company to when the machine was low, to increasing information about a variety of factors, to allowing customers to interact with the machine, you begin to recognize how the entire concept of even a basic “soda machine” starts to change. And those are all still low bandwidth exercises. What made that work wasn’t the increase in bandwidth, but the increase in general connectivity. If you start to increase the size of the pipe significantly as well, you start to get even more possibilities.
So, all these arguments over “net neutrality” and “metered billing” are missing the point. Bandwidth is going to increase. Those who attempt to cap it or limit it are only going to make their own pipes significantly less valuable. However, those who recognize how empowering more bandwidth can be, and how approaching “infinite bandwidth” opens up the possibility for new services and apps that we can’t even fathom today, will start to realize that providing ever more bandwidth increases value and clamping down on bandwidth kills value.