Several years back, Google launched Gmail. In 2004, Gmail surprised many people when it launched with 1 gigabyte of storage. We are talking 1 billion bytes of information. This was quite an eye popping feature back in the days when most web-based email providers like Yahoo! and Hotmail were offering their users less than 5 MB. 5 MB! Google pushed these other providers to step their game up. Because Gmail allows for 1 GB of mail storage, people no longer have to edit their emails and delete the “less important ones.” As you probably know, as a busy person dealing with a lot of emails, having to choose among which email to keep is like a parent being forced to choose which of their kids to keep. It is not easy.
Gmail changed all that because now you could keep emails even with a lot of attachments, even larger emails. Emails from a long time ago are no problem with Gmail. Most importantly, you can search your old emails so you could see older correspondence. Another innovation Gmail brought to the table was the discussion-based layout of the email. Each email is technically a conversation. You no longer need to search based on the sender’s email address to see what they said in the past or hope that they quoted their past email so you can follow the conversation. This is how it used to work with Yahoo! Gmail did that automatically for you. With Gmail’s launch, the online email space has improved. There is more storage, there are more features, it is easier to search and overall the online email market benefitted. Consumers got a better product with better features–what is not to like?
It looks like Google Fiber might do the same thing when it comes to Fiber provision. The state of the technology now is that the most common home data packages now offer 50 Mbps downstream speed and 10 Mbps upstream speed. This is totally blown away by Google Fiber. What are the numbers like? First, Google Fiber will allow consumers to download at speeds as high as 1,000 Mbps and this is not just the download speed, this is also the upload speed. It is possible then to download a whole DVD in a few minutes. In fact, if all the conditions are right and you are getting maximum speed, you could download high-definition movie in less than a minute.
Why did Google Fiber need to happen? From a consumer’s perspective, Google Fiber needed to happen as this is the right time and this is the right space for it. Why? While the volume of computing has shot up ever since the year 2000 according to Google, and storage demands have shot up since the year 2000, internet speed has remained slack. In fact, the state of the technology in internet speeds is greatly outstripped by the growth in computing and the growth in storage. As more and more people consume videos and all sorts of high-storage media, the internet has really lagged behind in conveying that data to the end user. That is why Google Fiber is a shot in the arm that consumers need to push connection service providers and data service providers to step their game up. As mentioned earlier, the fastest data service currently is 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps. This is not just enough and Google Fiber, hopefully with its 1,000 Mbps speed, would push the rest of service providers to step their game up quickly.
To be fair, there are some changes and better services offered by other data service providers. For example, Verizon now has the FIOS system. FIOS can deliver 300 Mbps speeds and this is definitely a great improvement from previous data services. Called the Quantum Internet Service, this feature uses fiberoptics to deliver very fast internet speeds. The 300-megabyte service offered by Verizon is a great improvement on current DSL speeds in the United States. For example, a two-hour 5-gigabyte high-definition movie would take many DSL subscribers at 1.65 Mbps speed and 405 minutes to download. An FIOS customer running at 300 megabytes would be able to download that same file in 2.2 minutes. That is great speed but Google Fiber would blow that away because Google Fiber is 1,000 Mbps speed and we are looking at probably a third of 2.2 minutes. Now that is fast. For some sad news, Google Fiber is not available in all parts of the United States. Currently it is being rolled out in test market in Kansas City, Missouri. Let us hope that Google Fiber pushes other providers to step up their speed and also Google Fiber itself is offered not just in the United States but in other international markets.