I read three different articles Friday that have a common theme – we just don’t have enough bandwidth in this country.
The first article from the Fiber To The Home Council which reports on a recent survey. They report that video viewing over the Internet is growing faster than expected, led by the viewing habits of the young. One third of young viewers watch video on a cell phone or tablet at the same time that they watch TV. And 12% of viewers under 35 report watching all of their content over the Internet.
The article also points out a recent report from Conviva, a web optimization company, who reports that they sampled 22.6 billion video streams and found that 60% of them suffered some degradation due to inadequate bandwidth.
The gist of the article is that demand keeps growing while many parts of the Web are near or at a breaking point in terms of capacity and quality. It’s also evidence that homes don’t want to just watch streaming video, they want to watch multiple streaming videos.
In another article Time Warner announced that it would roll out significantly faster Internet service, but only in competitive markets. The upgrades will come in markets where they are competing against fast competition, such as places where Verizon has built FiOS, where AT&T has relatively fast U-verse and where municipalities have built fiber networks. The company says that they will upgrade to DOCSIS 3 and also install much faster wireless routers. They also will upgrade the DVRs in these markets and roll out apps that are designed for the faster Internet.
But Time Warner also made it clear that they have no plans to upgrade markets where there is not fast competition. My take away from this article is that a lot of the incumbent providers are still only doing upgrades in response to direct competition. Otherwise they are quite satisfied with the status quo and only make investments under duress.
Finally, the citizens of Bergen County, New Jersey have started a petition to ask their politicians to offer whatever is necessary to attract Google fiber to the county. Bergen County is the most populous county in the state.
I find this somewhat surprising because most of the people in this county have Verizon FiOS available. And recently Verizon said they plan to have all of New Jersey covered by FiOS. Most of the rest of the country would be thrilled to be upgraded to the kinds of speeds available in Bergen County. FiOS speeds differ by market, but most markets have speeds available from 15 Mbps download to 150 Mbps download. And a few markets have 300 Mbps and 500 Mbps speeds available. Of course, Google would be bring 1 Gbps speeds for a little more than what people are paying for 50 Mbps from Verizon.
My takeaway from this is that people are beginning to realize how important very fast Internet service is. Even those who already have some of the fastest Internet speeds in the country do not view what they have as a value.
Unfortunately for the citizens of Bergen County I find it highly unlikely that Google will ever build to compete against another fiber network. Verizon could easily upgrade their network to compete with Google on speed and price and the conventional wisdom is that nobody is going to build a second fiber network to homes or both fiber owners will go broke competing against each other.
But all of these articles are indicative of the daily articles I see that continue to highlight the big gap between the bandwidth people want and what they are being offered in the market. We just don’t have enough bandwidth in the country, at least according to consumers.