Google Fiber: Internet that (Sort of) Travels at the Speed of Light

Fiber cablingYou spend enough time on a computer to have a sense of average Internet speed. Think about the time it takes you to load a page, and then try to imagine loading it about a hundred times faster. Hard to fathom, isn’t it?

The technology that can reach such high speeds is already available, but unfortunately it will be a while before it’s widely used. Google announced early this year that it plans to implement the technology across the country, revolutionizing the way Internet signal is transmitted. This project, known as Google Fiber, has the long-term goal of exchanging the copper connective wiring we use now with fiber-optic cables.

Rewiring the entire country will be expensive, but Google believes that fiber is the technology of the future—and that everyone will profit from it. After all, current fiber technology increases Internet download speed to 1 gigabit per second. Keep in mind that the current national average is between 1 and 4 megabits per second.

Fiber optic wires are made out of a thin type of glass that transmits signals using light. In fact, fiber is so efficient that it can potentially transfer data at a speed of 100 terabits per second. This potential outstrips our current technology so drastically that we would need to develop new hardware to take advantage of it.

If you’ve heard about Google Fiber, then you probably know about the competition Google hosted to find their first test city at the beginning of 2011. Kansas City was announced as the lucky winner in May, and Google plans to implement a fiber network there in 2012. Kansas City residents will be able to opt in to the Google Fiber program for the cost of normal Internet service.

The biggest question that Google Fiber raises is how will fiber change how we use the Internet? Well, Google’s not entirely sure. There’s been talk that such incredible speed will promote advances in virtual reality technology and even provide “telemedicine” to people living in remote locales. Can you imagine how fiber will change the entire industry of online marketing?

To gather data, another competition called the Gigabit Challenge was opened in October. Hosted by Think Big Partners, the Gigabit Challenge asks entrepreneurs to submit business plans that will use the Internet service in Kansas City to develop innovative products or services. If you think you have a brilliant plan or you’re simply curious about the competition, you can visit the Gigabit Challenge website. But hurry up—the deadline is October 31st!


*Image provided by kunstkammer on Flickr

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