As the FCC develops plans for rolling out national broadband — 100 Mbps access for at least one third of the nation — we started thinking about how we could make use of it.
1. Real-time access to medical records
Let’s say 100 Mbps access becomes ubiquitous. And, let’s say health care becomes commonplace even for those who are out of work or self-employed. With the more prevalent access, it’s easy to envision a day when your health records are easy to access from anywhere, even on your smartphone. And, when you visit the doctor, with this pervasive kind of access available, you could visit the doctor and then see the results of a blood test or read through a diagnosis on your smartphone.
2. No more over-the-air television
100 Mbps access is fast enough to download an episode of Lost in about 30 seconds. With that speed, there’s not a good reason why over-the-air broadcasts would even be necessarily any more, given the on-demand nature of fast downloads. Widespread national broadband would negate the need for most over-the-air broadcasts, including digital television and even FM radio stations.
If the FCC establishes a 100Mps wired and wireless infrastructure for every US citizen, the next inevitable conclusion is that cars would become better equipped to access this rich bandwidth as well. The Chrysler Grand Caravan already uses a service called UConnect Web for accessing 3G cellular networks for the Internet, which you can share in the car. The upcoming Ford Edge uses the MyTouch service that lets you plug in a USB WWAN card to access the Web as well. The next step: cars would be equipped to access the fast national broadband as well for TV, radio, and in-car downloads.
4. More realistic, location-based gaming
If every neighbor on your block has a fast broadband connection, location-based gaming could become more common. The idea is more than just “everyone in Philadelphia forms a clan” but allows gamers to find people in their local area – say, one high school competing against another. And, with faster access, latency becomes a non-issue for more realistic multiplayer matches. Your movements will be mapped faster into the game, and one low-speed connection won’t spoil the fun.
Once every citizen is connected to the Internet, and e-readers become as common as real books, the public library will change dramatically — it will not be a physical building, but instead a warehouse for e-books you can check out. Of course, with the Epub format, this is already becoming a reality. But the need for a physical library will lessen when cities know that every resident has access.