The idea of superfast fiber internet seems to be spreading much faster than the actual network, even as three major players are now squarely in the game.
Google Fiber first announced the service in 2010, and launched the service in 2012, but has been slow to roll out the service. Starting with six cities, Google plans to add another six in the near future, while holding talks with 13 other cities. It is estimated that Google will reach 25 million homes with its Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connections over the next five years.
Although Google was the first to announce highspeed fiber internet to U.S. consumers, it spurred other companies to explore the option for themselves, and AT&T is now available in 25 cities across the United States. Comcast is now in the game as well, with services in Nashville and Atlanta, and plans to soon add Miami, Chicago and Detroit.
Google as well as Comcast are also experimenting with wireless high-speed internet. Google announced in June that they will be acquiring Webpass, a wireless service provider. Comcast, on the other hand, is testing their own wireless service that provides speeds “approaching 1 gigabits per second.”
To get an idea of how fast fiber connections and speeds of 1 Gbps are, imagine doing this:
- Downloading a 9-hour audiobook in 0.9 seconds – regular broadband takes 10 minutes.
- Downloading a 2-hour movie in about 8 seconds, compared to 2 hours on a 1Mbps connection
- Downloading a 10 GB file in 1 minute 20 seconds – it would probably time out on a regular connection
That kind of speed is already available elsewhere in the world. Did you know that against a global average internet speed of 5.6 Mbps and the highest average speed of 27 Mbps in South Korea, the United States only has an average speed of 14.2 Mbps, with only 31% of the connections being faster than 15 Mbps.
To put things in perspective, 1 Gbps equals 1000 Mbps – lightning fast, and the fastest speed currently available to domestic consumers. The world’s fastest internet capability as of now is a 43Tbps connection developed by a team of scientists at a university in Denmark. With that kind of speed, you can download a 2 GB movie in about .4 milliseconds, or 0.0004 seconds. In comparison, it takes at least 300 milliseconds to blink your eyes once. Now that’s fast.
But for now we can only dream about having such speeds at home. As you can see, even the really fast 1Gbps hasn’t fully penetrated the United States. But with so many big companies pushing their “fiber gigabit agenda”, it’s only a matter of time before high-speed internet is accessible to all.