Friday, January 06, 2006

Internet One and Internet Ten

We’re at a watershed between today’s US broadband performance, and what’s about to be delivered. Since it’s roughly an order of magnitude difference, I use the terms Internet One and Internet Ten.

Internet One
  • Throughput: a few Mbps

  • Download/upload volume: a few GB/month

  • Latency: no guarantees
Internet Ten
  • Throughput: tens of Mbps

  • Download/upload volume: tens of GB/month

  • Latency: tenth of a second or better

Internet One is fine for today’s services; web pages load quickly, and few web users download more 3 GB of files per month. However, once video comes into play you need Internet Ten: 4-6 Mbps throughput for HDTV quality video, and/or tens of GB/month to download movies. The quantitative change in network performance leads to a qualitative change in user experience and business models.

  • Usenet file sharing: Internet One. Bittorrent: Internet Ten.

  • Google Search: Internet One. Google Video: Internet Ten.

  • thumbnail videos: Internet One. TV from your phone company: Internet Ten

Wired networks will always be an order of magnitude (or more) faster than wireless ones. However, it’s significant that we’re at the point where cellular companies are moving from Internet Zero (100 kbps) to Internet One speeds on a per-customer basis. (While Wi-Fi and 3G offers Internet Ten throughput from every bases station, the per-customer performance is still Internet One.) Customers who are satisfied with Internet One applications will have a choice of many competing providers; those who need Internet Ten will still face a cableco/telco duopoly.