Sunday, July 23, 2006

Chicken or Egg? Sunday Thought Piece

A light, but thought-provoking, piece came across my virtual desk this week. The story, entitled "Broadband Users Are Eager for New Applications," doesn't really demonstrate any such thing but the subhead is more interesting and more accurately reflective of the article:
"Which comes first, high-bandwidth pipes or high-bandwidth apps? Or is each side waiting for the other to move?"
It's a classic: "Which comes first? The chicken or the egg?" Such conundrums usually reveal nothing more than a bad question. But this time there really might be an answer and the answer is: high-bandwidth pipes. Nobody will develop anything to be used over an infrastructure that's not yet there. We can barely imagine what we could do with a gig to the home, an infinitely malleable digital framework, and easy interactions between media modalities. Hell, it's even hard to talk about without using obscure jargon.

But I am sure of one thing: that all that big capacity will be filled--that's what always happens.

The article goes on to note that a critical mass of “fiber-connected communities” with huge pipes is coming together and a graphic from the story make shows the typical take-off curve has taken shape.
Today about 1,000 geographically dispersed “fiber-connected communities” exist in the United States. Connecting these communities with each other, either through the public Internet or perhaps through a secondary, higher-capacity network, would create a large mass of potential customers with very-high-bandwidth capacity. This group might well be the critical mass needed to unleash a flood of new applications designed for high-speed networks.
Interesting? Lafayette has the resources to be at the front of that flood. It will be one of the largest fiber networks, probably the largest, in the United States. It has a university, some good tech credentials and possible seed beds like AOC. It could be a very interesting ride.

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