Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sizing Up Internet's Future

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sizing Up Internet's Future

Article excerpt

Imagine life in a world with super high-speed Internet connections and where they could take us by the year 2025. The Pew Research Center asked that question of a group of top experts in the tech field. They came up with some intriguing ideas on what the next-level Internet might look like.

Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center conducted a survey of more than 1,400 technology builders, researchers, managers, policymakers and analysts. They were asked what kinds of new technology applications would be possible with widespread access to gigabit connectivity - speeds of 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps). To put that in perspective, the average connection speed in the first quarter of 2014 was 3.9 Mbps, with the U.S. at 10.5 Mbps, according to Akamai Technologies.

Speculation ranged on how it could transform business, medicine, education and entertainment. They predicted an online world of real- time video and immersive virtual reality and the extinction of phones, email and Skype as we know it as forms of communication.

Among the highlights:

Marti Hearst, professor, School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley: "These ideas aren't new, but they will finally work well enough if given high enough bandwidth. Entertainment: You play sports and music virtually, distributed across the globe. Co-living: You have virtual Thanksgiving dinner with the other side of the family. Work: Finally, we greatly reduce flying around for meetings because virtual conferencing feels real. Health care: Remote assessment, treatment and surgery."

Joe Kochan, chief operating officer, US Ignite: "Gigabit broadband connections will usher in the Internet of two-way, persistent, high-quality video to replace today's Internet of images, text and recorded video. Interactions with doctors, educators, merchants and others will consist not of emailed forms or prerecorded messages, but instead of instantaneous, life-like video interaction. …

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