Good news, Californians: faster internet is coming to you. Comcast is introducing 2 gigabit internet to a few select areas across the country, including the Bay Area. The service will start in Chico and run all the way down through Santa Barbara. This includes Cupertino, right in the backyard of Google. And make no mistake, the fact that Comcast is rolling out their new service right next to Google is far from a coincidence. It’s a challenge.
“What’s happening is Google started their Google Fiber in Kansas City, Missouri, and since then they’ve started to plan expansion into different areas,” said Luis Alvarez, CEO of Alvarez Technology Group. “Cupertino, their backyard, is one of the areas that they announced they’ll be providing their Google Fiber, which is very low-cost gigabit service, and eventually ramping up to 10 gigabits.”
“So, Comcast, in reaction, has decided that they’re going to play defense by playing offense, and getting their infrastructure set up faster to provide two gigabits for many of the customers in that area. Fortunately for us, because of the way that Comcast infrastructure works, that includes the Monterey and Salinas area.”
And Google and Comcast aren’t alone in the race to offer ultra-high-speed internet. AT&T is also getting in on the action:
“There’s a lot of fiber in the ground, as you can well imagine, that’s been put there over the years, especially in the late 90s and early 00s. There was this boom in technology, and so a lot of fiber got put into the ground, most of which isn’t being used. But now AT&T, which owns a lot of it, is starting to ‘light up that fiber’, as we like to say, turn it on and make it available for us, primarily for commercial users down the 101 corridor. They’re making it much easier for businesses to tap into that fiber and bring high-speed internet into their businesses.”
But there’s a downside to all this: With these high speeds eventually becoming the norm, what happens to the users who are on 6 meg, 3 meg, even 1.5 meg connections? It’s going to get really, really slow for these users because when the internet get faster as whole, the product becomes bulkier and takes more speed to process:
“Yeah, it’s one of those things that killed the modems, right? Back in the day when AOL and CompuServe existed via dialup, higher-speed DSL became available and all of a sudden you were able to make websites fatter and the 56k and even the 112k modems just weren’t fast enough anymore. You had to upgrade, pay more money for bandwidth. The more bandwidth there is, the more service that people can provide, and the bigger and bulkier that those service are, it’s going to force everybody to swim upstream whether they like it or not.”
So, whether you’re excited about faster internet or not, soon enough you won’t have much of a choice.