Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Future of Fiber (Internet Fiber That Is)

We all remember the days of AOL dial-up & snail-paced modem service. Busy phone lines, slow internet, and ridiculous pricing. Today consumers have many more choices for internet connectivity. You can go with cable, such as Comcast or Atlantic Broadband (I have that currently). For those out in the middle of nowhere there is HughesNet, a satellite provider of internet access (Yes, named after the late eccentric Howard Hughes himself).

Verizon Fios is the beginning of the fiber revolution. And, I'm not talking about whole grains in your Kashi cereal. The future of broadband will be fiber based.

In the late 1990's you may recall a company named PSINet. At their heyday, PSINet was trading on the NASDAQ stock market under the ticker PSIX. It's market capital topped out around $7 Billion. They bought the name to the now M & T Bank Stadium where the Baltimore Ravens play football. They had a double decker suite which I was privileged to watch a game from on two occasions as my father was an executive and had access to the suite tickets.

PSINet envisioned a world that had light-speed internet via fiber. Only server speed and the end user's computer would be the drivers for slowing down the transfer of internet data. PSINet layed hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber all across the U.S. to provide the infrastructure backbone to support the heavy traffic they expected to come in the future.

Unfortunately, in the dot com era, when the boom time turned into the bust time, so many internet companies defaulted on their debts to PSINet, that PSINet itself could not survive and went bankrupt.

Ten years later, the future is here. We are using more internet data for videos, music, games, etc., than ever before. Yet, most all households have nothing better for high-speed internet than cable.

This is about to change. A new company, NWT Enterprises, is picking up where PSINet left off.

They envision a world where everyone is connected to the internet via fiber directly to the home. Internet over phone lines, cable, or satellite will become obsolete as fiber is cheaper and orders of magnitude faster.

Once NWT, which just received a multi-million dollar grant from the State of Maryland, lays fiber to all internet consumers, cable companies will have no more business, NetZero will go bankrupt, and perhaps HughesNet might be the one survivor as they can provide internet service to places in the middle of nowhere where it is economically not viable to lay fiber.

This idea of laying fiber to every home in America, perhaps the entire world is not a million dollar idea like the "Pet Rock." This is not a ten million dollar idea, or even a hundred million dollar idea. Providing light-speed internet access to the world is a multi-hundred billion dollar idea. If you like the looks of numbers, here you go:

$200,000,000,000.00

Enough zeros for you?

Facebook may control what we do while we are on the internet, but NWT will control how we get onto the internet in the first place. The president, founder, and man with the guts to put his money where his mouth is, is Kevin Manovich. Remember that name, because he is one of the current internet pioneers that is driving technology forward.

Technology makes laborious tasks easier, reduces paper waste, saves money, helps connect us to our friends, and millions of more uses. Let us embrace technology for it's benefits so we can conserve resources & spend more time with the people we love.

And that's today's B-Word!

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