Monday, April 28, 2008

Broadband 2.0

Broadband 2.0 Poised to Reshape Web, TV

The advent of DSL and cable modems gave rise to a slew of popular web services, produced multibillion dollar companies and reshaped consumers' daily lives -- all with relatively wimpy "broadband" connections that top out at a mere 3 to 6 megabits per second (Mbps).

Now two of the largest ISPs in the United States are hoping to kick off yet another broadband renaissance, this time with home connections that promise to reach 50-100 Mbps, enabling a slew of high-definition content, better-quality video-sharing sites and even 3-D video. Call it Broadband 2.0.

Experts say this increased bandwidth -- when it becomes widely available -- will have a profound effect on everything from our social interactions on the web to the way we consume media.

"The YouTube philosophy is really the primary motivator here," says Connie Chang-Hasnain, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and expert in broadband communications. "Even grandmas post things on YouTube. But, right now, the resolution is terrible and there are some very predefined limits due to bandwidth."

All of that will change with 50 Mbps download speeds, she said, and by simply improving the sound and video quality of video streaming sites, you can dramatically change how a society learns, teaches and communicates.

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