The promise of video streaming, high-speed delivery of files and other high-demand applications has been choked off by slow connections. The Internet, for the most part, has remained a one-way communication portal with limited applications.
Broadband could change that.
Broadband is really a shift in thinking about having separate services for voice, data, cable and television, says Charu Gupta, manager at Renaissance Worldwide, a global management consulting firm. Broadband is really thinking about a single pipe that can push any form of media through it, and having it deliver the service, content and level of quality that consumers are demanding.
Broadband is a general term that covers several different technologies, including cable modems, ISDN lines and DSL modems. As these products evolve, a doctor might be able to discuss a patient with a colleague, while pulling up a copy of X-rays in real time with virtually no delays for downloading. The next generation of devices promises even more, such as control of medical devices from remote locations, including the ability for surgeons to feel what they are touching through a pair of special gloves.
For now, the focus of broadband carriers is on high-speed Internet access while the industry tries to build the mass needed to fuel future innovations. DSL services, for example, offer the high speed access of a T1 phone line for about one-third the cost.
Right now, the real value is the high-speed access to the Internet, says Gupta. One of the key things that will alter that is the delivery of virtual private networks. These will combine voice and data bundles and target them at enterprises. Businesses will be able to deploy intranets and extranets.
Some carriers are distributing their services through Internet service providers, while others are supplying them directly. Most major metro areas have at least one form of broadband available, with attractive prices. A business could pay a few hundred dollars a month for up to eight lines of broadband rather than $1,000 per month for a T1 line.
There are some choices out there, including T1 lines, cable, DSL, ISDN or even some of the wireless technologies, says Gupta. I suggest that as you are making your technology choices, look at the ones which provide the most flexibility. Its important to think about which ones will scale with the needs of your business. Buy what you need, rather than overbuying to meet peak demands.
Because of the newness of the technology, Gupta recommends using a well-known carrier for broadband services. A bigger company is more likely to have the support youll need to work out the bugs with the new service.
Its not always easy to deploy, and theyll know the answers to your questions, says Gupta.
Todd Shryock (email@example.com) is special reports editor at SBN.