Comcast, the largest U.S. consumer broadband provider, announced that they are extending their “Extreme 105” offer to all regions, meaning 100Mbps home Internet connection is available for most U.S. consumers.
100Mbps is a lot. Enough to stream 20 DVD-quality movies simultaneously; or 5 simultaneous full-BluRay movies.
Much higher data rates are coming to wireless too, with the gradual spread of 4G / LTE technology.
Some caution is necessary. There are caveats in both cases. For Comcast, the standalone price of Extreme 105 is high – $199 per month, four-times the basic broadband price; and even if they drop the price, adoption rates will be constrained by the speed of their DOCSIS-3 rollout. And for 4G wireless, rollout, and device support, will be gradual and partial. A former colleague used to say that the adoption of a new infrastructure technology always takes as long as you think it will – but multiplied by Pi. That might be true again for mega-broadband.
Nonetheless, there will be substantial startup opportunities created.
Firstly, there are the streaming services themselves – whether for video, for interactive communication, or for anything else. Certainly the ways in which people consume, store, produce, edit and share media may be substantially altered.
Secondly, there are the infrastructure opportunities. For storage, processing, and playback, new streaming systems may be needed, or new forms of efficiency may need to be exploited. For networks, new forms of network virtualization, dynamic reconfiguration, cacheing, bandwidth optimization, bi-directional bonding, and rights management may be required.
Mega-bandwidth may be slow to fully rollout for a while yet. But when it comes, it may ignite a build-out bonanza for many service and infrastructure suppliers.