New Pew report By Lee Rainie, Janna Anderson and Jennifer Connolly: “The age of gigabit connectivity is dawning and will advance in coming years. The only question is how quickly it might become widespread. A gigabit connection can deliver 1,000 megabits of information per second (Mbps). Globally, cloud service provider Akamai reports that the average global connection speed in quarter one of 2014 was 3.9 Mbps, with South Korea reporting the highest average connection speed, 23.6 Mbps and the US at 10.5 Mbps.1
In some respects, gigabit connectivity is not a new development. The US scientific community has been using hyper-fast networks for several years, changing the pace of data sharing and enabling levels of collaboration in scientific disciplines that were unimaginable a generation ago.
Gigabit speeds for the “average Internet user” are just arriving in select areas of the world. In the US, Google ran a competition in 2010 for communities to pitch themselves for the construction of the first Google Fiber network running at 1 gigabit per second—Internet speeds 50-100 times faster than the majority of Americans now enjoy. Kansas City was chosen among 1,100 entrants and residents are now signing up for the service. The firm has announced plans to build a gigabit network in Austin, Texas, and perhaps 34 other communities. In response, AT&T has said it expects to begin building gigabit networks in up to 100 US cities.2 The cities of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Bristol, Virginia, have super speedy networks, and pockets of gigabit connectivity are in use in parts of Las Vegas, Omaha, Santa Monica, and several Vermont communities.3 There are also other regional efforts: Falcon Broadband in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Brooklyn Fiber in New York; Monkey Brains in San Francisco; MINET Fiber in Oregon; Wicked Fiber in Lawrence, Kansas; and Sonic.net in California, among others.4 NewWave expects to launch gigabit connections in 2015 in Poplar Bluff, Missouri Monroe, Rayville, Delhi; and Tallulah, Louisiana, and Suddenlink Communications has launched Operation GigaSpeed.5
In 2014, Google and Verizon were among the innovators announcing that they are testing the capabilities for currently installed fiber networks to carry data even more efficiently—at 10 gigabits per second—to businesses that handle large amounts of Internet traffic.
To explore the possibilities of the next leap in connectivity we asked thousands of experts and Internet builders to share their thoughts about likely new Internet activities and applications that might emerge in the gigabit age. We call this a canvassing because it is not a representative, randomized survey. Its findings emerge from an “opt in” invitation to experts, many of whom play active roles in Internet evolution as technology builders, researchers, managers, policymakers, marketers, and analysts. We also invited comments from those who have made insightful predictions to our previous queries about the future of the Internet. (For more details, please see the section “About this Canvassing of Experts.”)…”