By Greg Mills
Here in Kansas City, Kansas, as we contemplate the Google 1 Gig fiber optic Internet coming to town, we are looking at our hardware. The notion of symmetrical 1 Gig internet will certainly push the envelope for hardware manufacturers, including Apple.
I got a number of technical correction emails from my editor and readers who tell me I got my megs, bytes, bits and gigs mixed up the other day as to decimal points. Sorry about that. Hopefully, the content was educational, but only slightly tinted with technical error. I will try to untangle all that in the future.
At the KCK town hall meeting with Google the other night, to me the biggest bomb was the notion of upload and download at full 1 Gig speeds. The more or less standard of the industry seems to be roughly 10% of the download speed is enough for the upload speed.
Your computer talks to the web sites you visit ,and when you click on something the computer sends a message to the server telling it what you have done. You open a new page or interact with the web site and it responds to you. You upload a small amount of information and a relative torrent of information comes flowing back.
What is revolutionary in the 1 Gig fiber optic internet proposed by Google is the symmetrical aspect. I can push enormous amounts of data up just as fast as it comes down. Extremely data intensive applications will benefit from this. One major winner will be the medical industry as things like MRI results and scans require a tremendous amount of data. With 1 Gig going both ways a hospital here in KCK can allow a doctor in some distant location to view the information mostly in real time.
As I understand it, there will be two options for internal wiring from the "drop" box mounted on the side of the house inward to serve the electronics inside the house. One approach is Ethernet. One creates an Ethernet network by plugging in an off the shelf cable into a port on the fiber optic box, and you have 1 Gig hooked up. "Gigabyte Ethernet" is common to recent computers and represents an easy fix for the last hundred feet.
Apple, in conjunction with Intel, has cooked up a solution Apple calls ThunderBolt that can handle 10 Gigs. There is a fiber optic strand surrounded by wire and insulation. To go fiber optic one would have to connect a fiber optic cable to the box on the side of the house and run it to a box that also serves as a power cube for your Apple computer. When you plug in the power brick's "MagSafe/ThunderBolt" power connector to a ThunderBolt-equipped computer, you are set for up to 10 Gigs.
Most of us have a wireless router in the house or business, and the fastest Wi-Fi standard isn't fast enough to run at a full 1 Gig. There are a couple of pending standards that will get us there but implementation is still in the works. Apple tends to be an early adopter of new standards they like. I have speculated that the existence of symmetrical 1 Gig fiber optic Internet will spur Apple to put out an Airport Wi-Fi router that will connect to the Internet via a ThunderBolt port and output in an advanced standard that will run at the faster speeds.
As I understand it now, the fastest existing Wi-Fi flavor will only run at one-third to two-thirds the 1 Gig standard. I am not sure about the symmetrical aspect. I have heard that once the fiber optic network is established, upgrades to software and boxes that will push higher speed using the existing fiber optic network are possible, up to 10 Gigs.
One can be sure Apple will not be the laggard in all this. I am also not sure if the wide area Wi-Fi standards coming soon will support symmetrical 1 Gig speeds. Clearly, Google is setting the bar very high.
That's Greg's Bitre for today, coming to you from KCK.
(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He's also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: www.CottageIndustySolar.com Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg's art web site at http://www.gregmills.info He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org )