The Moving Target of High Speed Broadband

It comes as no surprise to anyone that we are in an era of extremely fast-paced technological innovation. The National Broadband Plan calls for 100 million U.S. homes to have affordable access to 100Mbps download speeds and 50Mbps upload speeds by 2020.


While this may seem like a lofty goal today, we already have markets with access to speeds up to 1Gbps from such services as Google Fiber. A similar initiative was started in Seattle in December of 2012 by a consortium of the City of Seattle, the University of Washington, and Gigabit Squared.


According to NetIndex, the average worldwide broadband speed in July of 2008 was around 4.59Mbps.  Today, it is approximately 12.8Mbps, and the pace of growth is expected only to increase over the next seven years.


However, geography must also be taken into consideration.  Many households, especially within the United States, are in rural areas that are difficult and expensive to access.
The technology behind connectivity is constantly changing as well. We have moved through PSTN, cable, satellite, WiMAX, 4G LTE, and even fiber to the home.


So, with all of these volatile factors, making an accurate prediction of the future becomes extraordinarily difficult, and therefore setting a realistic goal is also difficult.


Imagine that you have a basketball, and you’re aiming for a hoop. As you prepare to make your shot, the ball changes to a football, then the goal changes to a golf hole and moves 20 feet from its original position while the football changes to a javelin and the goal changes again as you continue in this fashion.  Now you have an idea of the difficulty of setting a reasonable goal for high speed broadband access.