Sunday, November 09, 2008
The Network Helps Dicate the Shape of the Future
Digital downloads are today what CDRoms were in the early days of the Internet – the best digital platform - but are digital downloads the future? It seems to us that it is inevitable as the migration from CDRom to the Internet. Last week Reuters reported that Kevin Martin, the US Federal Communications Commission and a Larry Page Google co-founder said that a decision by the U.S. agency to open unused ‘white space’ TV spectrum will improve Internet access in urban and rural areas. At the heart of this is the use of radio which is undergoing significant development. Page said, ‘new radio technology will soon have more reach than current WiFi, which cannot go through more than two walls.’
"White space" will be capable to detecting local television channels and automatically switching to frequencies not in use, limiting power to avoid interference, send packets of data, and then switch again. Page predicts that prototypes of radio microchips may be available in as little as 18 months.
Before we have the alternative network technologies a report published by UK analysts Point Topic states that worldwide broadband is already getting cheaper and faster. Prices have already fallen by 20% percent in 2008. DSL prices have dropped from $25 per megabit to $18 per megabit, whilst cable prices haven't fallen and are now at $6-7 per megabit and fibre remains the best value at $1 -2 per megabit.
Smaller European operators are now offering both lower prices and faster speeds, whilst in the US, the report notes that "speeds have gone up but the price hasn't changed." There continues to be huge variation between regions with high speed Internet access becoming essential to many Americans, whilst home access remains prohibitively expensive in many parts of the world.
Major provider AT&T has been boosting its network to deliver speeds of 18Mbps in the US. AT&T are now investing $275 million to purchase WiFi hotspot operator Wayport. Wayport who started in ’97 with wired connections in hotel rooms went on to create the world's largest hotspot network, installing WiFi in airports, hotels, coffeeshops, and restaurants including 10,000 McDonalds. AT&T now increases its US footprint to 20,000 locations for its basic free service to millions of its subscribers and is adding the 3,000 hotel, healthcare, and other locations in Wayport's network.
AT&T now becomes the largest hotspot operator in the world. Its main competitor being the Fon network who with 300,000 active hotspots and over 1 million registered users makes it the world’s largest network.
So devices are getting smarter and converging, networks getting more pervasive, cheaper and faster and we are becoming a permanently connected. Some would say that this shows that today’s ereaders are clearly transient in their current form.