What's the Internet Speed Limit?

With convergence, the Internet of Things, and cloud access, justifying fiber deployments is easier than ever -- and the argument against doing so is becoming moot. To remain competitive, states must recognize bandwidth as a dynamic asset they need to continue to expand and democratize it.

When available bandwidth is sufficient, the Internet is capable of enhancing our lives and providing a means to do more with less. Cloud migration is in part proof that we can reduce energy consumption and collectively improve how we manage available resources. The keyword here is "available." Every IT person knows that availability is a point of contention as soon as disruption surfaces in any organization. Internet bandwidth is consumable, and should not be taken lightly or for granted.

The year-over-year (YoY) growth in average bandwidth is impressive, but we also have to look at the numbers on a state-by-state basis (see infographic below).

A few years ago, Virginia led the country in average bandwidth speed. Today, however, Washington, D.C. tops the list (not a state, but on the list), with Delaware following at the number two spot. Both comprise smaller geographic areas, and logically you would hope that the nation's capital is leading in bandwidth availability.

Utah, North Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, and Idaho had single-digit YoY growth . Alaska had 31% growth. How do the challenges in geography, weather, resources, and priorities vary on a state-by-state level?

What's important is the growth, and each state needs to recognize that federal monies can't be the exclusive source of funding for bandwidth improvements. States must realize that bandwidth availability does impact competitiveness and societal conditions, and set policies accordingly. Socialization of the network infrastructure comes through agreed upon standards, practices, and protocols.

The Internet is critical infrastructure, and applying the resources to that end goal of having available bandwidth is a necessary investment.

As a society, how we work and conduct business continually evolves, and we all expect the technology to change along with it. But do we change, or do we keep up with the pace of change? These questions and more frame our future; complacency won't work. Market forces are demanding speed, as the bandwidth growth rates show. That the cost of bandwidth is declining each year as demand increases is encouraging.

However we tackle bandwidth needs on a national, state-by-state, or even individualistic level, we know we want it -- this should be one of the most exciting realizations of late. I can remember being happy with 300 bps and upgrading to 9,600 bps. I can remember sending faxes at 7 minutes a page with an acoustic coupler, and getting excited about sub-minute fax machines. Just having a "mobile telephone" was a breakthrough is classism, and being able to live free of hundreds of pounds of encyclopedias is pretty cool, too, although I still love good books. Listening to baseball games on the radio was normal and while watching streaming videos on YouTube and Netflix has changed our lives, don't you wonder what will be next?

The network is more intelligent, and our dependencies broader and deeper, then ever. I still appreciate my Bakelite phones, candlesticks, rotary dials, ITT princess blue telephones, and DTMF. Spectrum is amazing and whatever you think about technology just remember "available resources," and let's hope that we can speed things up.

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