September 30 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: The Web Year: 2012 Rating: 5 Hot
With Comcast slowing Internet speeds and other companies slow to bring fiber optic cable to consumers, it’s starting to seem more likely that wireless internet will by-pass all of this. Why spend the cost of installing fiber-optic cable when wireless internet will do just as well?
It reminds me of the country of Niger. The country was so late to the technology game that new, cheaper technology have allowed them to skip decades of advancement and costly infrastructure. They went from land lines (circa 1940) directly to cheap cell phones (circa 2008).
In fact, this is how much of the world by-passed the US in internet speed with fiber-optics. While we spent a decade laying out cable, other countries spent only a few years laying down the latest technology (fiber-optics).
In an article about lagging internet speeds in the US, reporter David Gardner explores some of the amazing statistics out there involving US internet speeds. “The median download speed in the U.S. is 2.35 Mbps. Densely populated Japan has an eye-popping 63.60 Mbps, according to figures from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.” In other words, not only is the US behind most of the developed world, we’re really behind.
So what do we do?
The way of the future is the world of wireless. With WiMAX, US companies have the potential to save hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure. WiMAX, touted as “Wi-Fi on steroids,” has speeds from 2-4Mbps and a much greater range than traditional Wi-Fi (think miles instead of feet).
This is happening now. Sprint recently unveiled WiMAX in the city of Baltimore, MD. “The eastern port of Baltimore became the first major city in the United States on Monday to be blanketed with a wireless broadband network that uses next-generation mobile WiMAX technology.” Anyone in town can either pay by the day (expensive at $10 a day, most likely for visitors) or by the month (a cheap $30).
This could be it. This could be the next big shift. And while WiMAX speeds are nothing to brag about, it’s a huge step in the right direction. In fact, this may even lead to a National WiMAX service. Sure, homes are in great need of faster internet, but with the iPhone making it seem more and more likely that the future of computing is mobile, this could be enough.
Image: fatboyke (Flickr, CC-Attribution)