Forget 1Gbit, USA Today reports that a Swedish woman has an experimental 40Gbps fiber-optic Internet connection. While the article makes it clear that she only uses a fraction of the speed available to her, it’s important because it demonstrates the power of a fiber optic infrastructure.
The 40Gbps speeds were accomplished with a new modulation technique—meaning the light pulses traveling over the fiber are upgraded, but the fiber optic-cable itself does not need to be replaced. Fiber-optic cables carry light, which travels at the highest speed possible, period. Bandwidth increases are accomplished by altering the frequency and pulses of the light sent over the cable. These upgrades can be made without replacing the entire infrastructure. Unless and until someone invents ansible-like communcations, fiber-optic infrastructure will remain the fastest possible means of transmitting data.
Today, a friend of mine spotted Comcast in his neighborhood running fiber-optic cable down the street, but not replacing the copper infrastructure that runs to homes. Halfway build-outs like this will continue to necessitate replacement and upgrades to infrastructure. Incumbent providers expand their networks on the cheap, while keeping customers in the slow-lane of the Information Super Highway.