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While Gigabyte broadband might still be on the drawing boards for many of our major telecom companies, Sprint is tackling high-speed mobile while Google is making its mark in the wired internet side of the world. Both are pressing hard to deliver a gigabit of data each second to the home in the not-so-distant future.
America's Internet Speeds Lag Globally
While America's tech giants like Apple and Microsoft have revolutionized personal computing, mobile technology and methods for connecting online, the irony of that leadership when it comes to Internet speeds is that globally, we have slipped behind. Today, according to a new study by Speedtest.net, the U.S. ranks 31st in the world in terms of average download speeds, and 44th with an average upload speed of 6.32 Mbps, behind countries like Lesotho and others you might only hear mentioned on Jeopardy.
The worldwide leader is Hong Kong for both download and upload speeds averaging 3.5 times faster than our download speeds and over nine times faster than our uploads.
While President Obama has announced a plan to increase Internet speeds across the country and link 99% of American students to high-speed Wi-Fi in five years, our connections remain sluggish and costly.
The Fiber Route
Google Fiber is still an experiment in progress. In 2010, the search giant announced it would bring a 1,024-megabit (1 gigabit) per second fiber Internet service to a handful of selected cities commencing with Kansas City, followed by Provo, Utah and due in Austin, Texas sometime in 2014.
Prior to Google Fiber, most consumers had no clue as to the difference between 1Mbps versus 1000Mbps connection – except to know that one is incrementally faster than the other. Now 1Gbps is the target for most municipal broadband projects and is certainly on the roadmap for most telecom operators.
On the mobile front, Sprint is now accelerating its wireless network with "groundbreaking advances" in smartphone technology that will ultimately reach speeds Google Fiber is talking about. Demonstrating its new service Sprint Spark™ on October 30 at the company's tech center in Burlingame, California, Sprint demonstrated it could match the 1 gigabit per second Google Fiber speed on a wireless network at its innovation center in Burlingame, California on October 30.
Dan Hesse“We named this capability Sprint Spark for one simple reason: It’s the spark to bring to life the next generation of wireless,” said Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint. “We are leveraging our assets toward our goal to deliver the best customer experience in wireless. As both consumers and businesses discover its power, we believe Sprint Spark will ignite the demand for high-performance applications and create an incentive for app developers to fast track their innovations.”
Sprint plans to deploy Sprint Spark in about 100 of America’s largest cities over the next three years, with initial availability in five markets today — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa and Miami. The first smartphones with Sprint Spark capability are now available to the customers . Those include Samsung's Galaxy Mega, the Galaxy S 4 mini and LG's G2, with the HTC One Max yet to be announced.
Decongested Highway Traffic
The tri-band technology in these Sprint Spark capable smartphones can instantly hand-off the signal between each of three spectrum bands dependent on which offers the best reception at the time. While traditional LTE is like a highway with lanes running in one direction, tri-band can essentially switch the direction of lanes dependent on which way the traffic is going. In essence, it means those lanes don't have to sit empty if the traffic is building or slowing in any one direction.
Video alone has pushed the need for faster data transfers on mobile devices with traffic that's expected to increase by about 300 percent by 2017. So, those devices that reach the market first with gigabyte broadband will be primed for a growing market of cell phone owners, which according to comScore's tracking came in at 147.9 million people in the U.S. this past September.
Thank you to Sprint and Technorati Media for sponsoring this article. All opinions expressed here are my own. (Sprint, Sprint Spark, Sprint Faster)
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