Our bandwidth-hungry days are far from over. With spiraling gas prices hitting most of the country, many workers are turning to telecommuting to get the job done. Pair that up with the financial benefits of telecommuting (especially with new tax incentives from Congress) and we're likely to see that trend continue. Of course, this places higher bandwidth requirements on both businesses and workers even when using low-bandwidth tech like Remote Desktop or VNC. Pulling files over a VPN on a typical cable modem is also an exercise in frustration with some larger documents taking minutes to finish transferring. Considering that a recent reports shows that Brits lose over 2.5 days a year waiting for slow websites, businesses will have more reasons to push for better bandwidth.
IPTV is also going to push bandwidth requirements much further. ABC is going to push its shows to the web as HD streams, Joost is going to be distributing for Viacom and NBC (among others) is pushing lots of video content via iTunes. Considering that HD content pushes about 80Mbps of data, it's painfully obvious that current broadband won't be cutting the mustard for distributing high-quality streaming video.
Hot on the feels of this bandwidth lurch comes a call from House Democrats to redefine broadband from 200kbps to 2Mbps and better assess how available broadband really is, especially in rural areas. The speed boost does little more than bring lower-tiered services slightly higher, but it will do a lot to put egg on the face of telcos selling overpriced and underpowered Internet connections.
Where we're really stuck is that current systems can't accommodate the high-speed requirements we need in the future. While Comcast was happy to show off a 160Mbps cable modem, they can barely push 8Mbps with the current DOCSIS 2.0 standard, one that supports a speed of up to 45Mbps. Cable companies are also not likely to allow up to four channels for Internet per household considering the bandwidth crunch they already experience from HD programming. They already use very aggressive compression to cram 400+ channels with phone and Internet onto a 4Gbps pipe. Phone companies like AT&T have gotten creative by using FTTN to push channels to a node and then only stream several channels at a time to each subscriber, but the copper last mile leaves consumers still trying to budget about 45Mbps of peak bandwidth, not enough for a single high-quality video stream.
Fiber really does stick us in a situation where FTTP is the only way to go to get high-quality TV signals and high-speed data coexisting to the same building. With about 14,400Gbps of maximum bandwidth with current fiber optic technologies, there's just no other way to go.