I read a story last week about an insanely fast router that can run at up to 5.3 gigabits, far faster than even the crazy-fast gigabit Internet service that only a lucky few people are able to get. The article questioned what anyone would do with it.

Think beyond network speeds, though, and there’s a lot you can do with that power.

First, just because you can’t use that speed in the outside world, inside your house there’s definitely lots of benefit to that kind of speed. If you’re going to stream high-resolution video to a media center PC, for example, you’re going to want as much speed as you can get.

Even if you have that kind of speed, though, a lot of its capability is going to sit idle. I have lots of ideas for what to do with it though.

How about a DNS firewall that blocks malware from getting in and disrupts any malware that does manage to slip in? How about caching web content so we can make smarter use of the pathetic bandwidth we do get? How about QoS? When the Chromecast and a tablet are both streaming video, what if I could restrict the tablet to a lower-resolution feed since the tablet can cope with lower resolution a bit better?

What if we built some rudimentary IDS capability into the device, so it could alert us if it sees suspicious stuff going on?

I think there are a lot of great things we could do with a moderately powerful device–something with a couple of CPU cores in the GHz range and perhaps half a gig of RAM–sitting between our networks and the Internet. We just need to think a little bit beyond firewalls and routing, that’s all.