Saturday, March 13, 2010

Our Evolving Connected World

This week, the holy grail of an “All connected world” for ‘any content, any time’ seems closer with few announcements, respectively from Silicon Valley and Washington.

On Tuesday, Cisco released its new router – ‘CRS-3’ that the company is touting as the gateway to a new era of Internet capable of streaming of digital copies of all the movies ever made in about four minute or facilitating a video call with every person in China at the same time.

In terms of numbers, the new system could enable routing of whopping 322 terabits per second. Of course routers don’t deliver data to consumers, wireless networks, DSL lines and cables do. None the less, this does appear a big leap towards managing the broadband traffic for future years, assuming pipes exists to stream the content to consumer’s PCs, netbooks or smartphones.
That’s where the second announcement of the week comes in to play.

This Friday, several news channels including New York Times ( reported that FCC is proposing an ambitious 10-year plan to reconstruct the nation’s media infrastructure by establishing high-speed Internet as the country’s dominant communication network.

As is the case, US lags behind several nations especially several Scandinavian countries and South Korea, with respect to availability of broadband pipe to its citizen. As the NY Times reported, about a third of Americans have no access to high-speed Internet service, cannot afford it or choose not to have it. FCC’s plan includes an initiative called “100 Squared”, i.e., equipping 100 million households with broad-band access at 100 megabits per second by the end of this decade. The average subscriber now reportedly receives speeds only up to 3 or 4 MBPS.

The plan is indeed consistent with the view that broadband Internet is becoming the common medium, gradually displacing the telephone and broadcast television industries. Reason enough for network and TV operators to be less enthusiastic about the plan.

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