The Only Way is Up
The impact that broadband has on our society is often hard to quantify. Changes in what we do and how we do it, have a knack of creeping up on us and quickly embedding themselves so deeply into our lives, that it feels like we always did things that way.
Think about how we access movies in our homes. Services like Netflix have eradicated that Friday night trek to the video store, only to find that nothing good was left in stock. With modern broadband connectivity, we are now empowered to consume anything that can be digitized, instantly. Movies, music, publications, and education are all only seconds away from instant gratification. Suffice to say. The substantial increases in broadband speeds have fundamentally and permanently changed society. However this is only half the story.
With every broadband connection, there are two sides to the link, downstream and upstream. Downstream, the darling of the broadband industry since its inception, and the marketer’s weapon of choice of for the last two decades, has spawned a near endless list of novel applications and disruptive business models that even the most forward thinking would have struggled to predict.
We are now entering a new era. An era where activities like live streaming have become democratized with smartphones and wearable cameras broadcasting through applications like Facebook and YouTube. An era where we can capture our own 360- degree Virtual Reality (VR) content on sub $100 adventure cameras. An era where this same 360-degree streaming technology is making its way into smartphones. In this new era, how we interact with computing environments is also rapidly evolving. With early examples like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri, to name but a few, we can now verbally interact with the digital world. The combination of voice control, coupled with 3D-sensing and cloud-based Artificial Intelligence will open up the world of personal robotic assistants that we have been promised in Sci-Fi movies for decades.
Underpinning all of these exciting advancements is a dependency on reliable, low- latency, high-capacity upstream bandwidth. Without addressing the imbalance inherent in many current broadband services, subscribers will find themselves unable to properly engage in the consumer trends that emerge in the Gigabit Society.
As our industry faces the next round of access network investment there is clear acknowledgment that the asymmetries of the past do not have a place in our future. Symmetric Gigabit access technologies like XGS-PON, NG-PON2, G.fast DTA and even DOCSIS 3.1 Full Duplex, all ensure that next-generation networks will deliver on the vision of Gigabit societies and connect us to the cloud in ways we could never have imagined.
The only way is up.