Internet speeds are currently measured in megabits per second, but with 30 universities around the country throwing their weight into an effort called “Gig.U,” we may soon be seeing speeds in gigabits per second.
Larry Greenmeier of Scientific American writes that telecommunication companies have their Internet speeds to the point where an astounding majority of people are satisfied. To push it beyond these current speeds would be expensive, and few people would be willing to pay the difference.
As a means of comparison, think of a Ford Mustang versus some hot McLaren sports car. Sure, the Mustang is fast, reliable, and affordable to many people, but the McLaren will beat it in a race every time (and is exponentially more expensive).
The story is different for universities, however — they want (and need) all the bandwidth they can get. Gig.U is encouraging student and staff researchers to develop applications that can make use of insanely fast Internet speeds — videoconferencing with no delay, or streaming non-pixelated video. Greenmeier doesn’t get into specifics on how Internet speeds will jump past the gigabit mark, but we assume it will involve connecting to Internet backbones as directly as possible.