Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rant: Bandwidth

Of late I’ve been mulling the “price per bit” over time (not in depth, nothing to show for the thoughts yet). The price has plummeted. Where we used to treasure every byte received, we now have a “cloud” serving vast piles of data which we give a scant glance then discard.
With this iPad thingie, I moved an average of 10kb/sec all last month – one bit every 0.0001 seconds. Small wonder AT&T is throttling users on the large-but-limited bandwidth 3G network. They’re getting $0.000001/bit (or less).
-          The iPad is a hit, moving huge volumes of product. Apple sold 2 million in two months, and that was just to the “early adopters” in the USA. About half of those run 3G.
-          The iPhone 4 is due soon (today?). That front-facing camera will open the floodgates of videophone calls, magnifying the data demands of otherwise normal calls.
-          Google just announced GoogleTV – another huge draw on internet video. Expect a revamping & push of Apple TV in response.
-          4G wireless is gearing up, with Verizon about to throw the nationwide on switch, AT&T soon to follow, and Clear & Sprint already running it. Lots more bandwidth to cover the aforementioned load, once we consumers upgrade our hardware.
Tangent while I’m blathering:
The fight over Flash on the iP* makes me think we’re on the cusp of a “Tower of Babel” moment. So far all internet-connected devices speak pretty much the same language and follow the same technosocial protocols. There may be “dialects”, but everyone kinda gets along.
At some point some faction (*cough*Apple*cough) will choose to stop supporting some part of the “internet language” outright (*cough*Flash*cough*), causing a sharp separation of network participants, a separation which cannot be bridged without concerted effort. New cultural divides will form, defined by users’ inability to “just go there”; millions of iP* users won’t give up their uber-mobile life-changing devices, and TimeWarner/NBC/CBS/whaever won’t give up Flash just for a small fraction of their customers ... a division which just won’t be bridged.
Let the balkanization of the “exascale web” begin. There’s enough bandwidth & data out there to support it.
BTW: Google is about to introduce their outright replacement for Windows. They expect a million users on day one.

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