The Internet is a 21st century utility–take it seriously

Forbes says we need to take Internet speed more seriously in this country.

My take: I got my first modem in 1986, roughly, and after mapping out my modem purchases over the following decade, I saw that I was upgrading to a faster modem speed roughly every 2 years. My jump from 300 bits per second to 1200 bits per second was my biggest jump, and there was a smaller jump from 9.6 kbps to 14.4 kbps in the early 1990s, but those were the only two exceptions to the rule.
I topped out at 56K in the late 1990s, before DSL finally became available in late 1999 in my area, which gave me a big jump to 256K.

Plotting out the fastest available speeds in my area, speeds have roughly continued to double every two years. By my math, we should have reached 32 megabits by 2013 at that rate. The fastest-available connection from my phone provider is 24 megabits, and the fastest connection from the local cable company is 30 megabits. So that’s close.

But in the 1980s and 1990s, we were dealing with the limitations of an antiquated phone system, and the people who wanted to use that system to transmit data were considered weird. (I was one of those people–I know.)

Today, it’s vital. The linked story says we haven’t seen much from Google Fiber coming to Kansas City yet. I would argue it’s a little soon for that–it’s only been available since July 2012, and even now it’s not available everywhere.

What I do know is that bright people are flocking to KC, buying houses in the areas that can get Google Fiber, and seeing what they can do with it. Run-down properties in the areas that can get Google Fiber are suddenly valuable. That’s a good thing. But jumping to conclusions based on what a few thousand people have been able to do in six months? That’s premature.

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