How fast is 2,000 times faster? Is that, like, Michael Johnson-with-a-rocket-strapped-to-his-back-while-running-downhill fast?
An idea that researchers at a Welsh university are busy working on goes a long way toward illuminating this idea--and what it means for the future of, well, nearly everything.
The Bangor University scientists have successfully increased broadband speeds by this amount using very similar tech to that currently in use, with limited cost impact. Let's count the (super-high-speed) ways this could change our lives.
Remember the bad old days of dial-up Net and then the arrival of fast, wired broadband DSL? Download speeds went from a snails pace tens of kilobits per second to all the drama of galloping horse, with speeds of hundreds of kilobits per second.
On dial-up you could check your email, have a chat via AIM or surf an often text-based web. But live online gaming could only work for slower-paced strategy games due to low speeds and the latency between moves being updated, and downloading even a low-resolution movie took forever (a 700MB film would've taken about a day to download).
With DSL broadband, image-rich webpages could be glanced at and surfed past because they downloaded in seconds and then you would move on and play World of Warcraft with thousands of other people in near-real-time. At typical DSL speeds, a 700MB movie could be downloaded in just about the time taken to watch it. Skype, and other streaming video services like YouTube were enabled. Pink pixel websites (ahem) that cause such consternation to some began to be among the web's most popular destinations.
Now home fiber broadband systems are available, and they offer speeds of hundreds of megabits per second, thousands of times faster than dial-up speeds. Web pages on browsers thus download almost instantaneously, and acquiring a gigabyte sized update to your computer's operating system is something that can happen quickly and quietly in the background. A 700MB movie file downloads in minutes, while you simultaneously check your mail or FaceTime someone.
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