Broadband, 4G Opening the Network Fast Lane to Consumers, Enterprises

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2013-04-03 Print this article Print

Private providers are also contributing to this—some for profit, some not for profit. In the latter category sits Google, which provides free high-speed wireless connectivity for the entire 74,000-resident city of Mountain View, Calif., where its main campus resides on the shores of the San Francisco Bay.

That's a great benefit for the local community, certainly, but Google is one of those rare enterprises that can afford to provide such a service. Not all cities and towns have such a magnanimous sponsor. Google is starting work on several other similar projects around the country via the Google Fiber Initiative.

The city and county of San Francisco provides a more realistic scenario, with numerous commercial choices (including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and others) to go along with a handful of local neighborhood providers. There are also some free wireless services to be found in many parts of the city. Some are provided by local businesses (and not just Starbucks and McDonald's), and some provided free of charge by generous individuals.

In the previously mentioned Gigabit City Challenge, the FCC's Genachowski announced plans to create an online clearinghouse of best practices to collect and disseminate information about how to lower the costs and increase the speed of broadband deployment nationwide, including to create gigabit communities. Genachowski also proposed working jointly with the U.S. Conference of Mayors on the best-practices clearinghouse effort, so the federal effort will get down to the true community level.

In another example of how this all might benefit communities, the Google Fiber project in Kansas City is bringing gigabit service to a high number of residential consumers, while in Chattanooga, Tenn., a local utility deployed a fiber network to 170,000 homes. The resulting high-speed broadband infrastructure helped companies like Volkswagen and Amazon create more than 3,700 new jobs over the past three years.

Overall, however, telecom analysts generally agree that the United States is at least five years or more away from high-speed wireless broadband becoming so "everywhere" that it's taken for granted.

Observation 2: 4G LTE Really Does Deliver the Goods

All the major carriers have rolled out their 4G LTE networks during the past three years, with most of them promising speeds up to 10 times faster than standard 3G networks. Generally, 4G is indeed faster than 3G. That’s the evolution of the IT business in general: bigger, faster, better.

But is it all that much faster that it makes a huge difference to the consumer or to the enterprise? That's what being debated in the media and in more private circles.

For example, Ed Robinson, Riverbed Technology general manager of Web content optimization, summarized the thoughts of a number of industry people when he wrote in a 2012 blog: "If 4G were legitimately 10 times faster than 3G, I'd never have to buy another phone to keep up with technological advances again." (His latter point, of course, will never be a truism. Device manufacturers built their businesses on the premise that a phone lasts two years, and by and large, they do.)

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel