Canada's Condominium Magazine
High-speed Internet access is one of those topics that makes people talk, and complain. And make lists. To find out where your country/city/neighbourhood ranks in the world for speed of connectivity, just consult the latest list of your choice. You will see that Japan now has the fastest commercially available Internet access speeds in the world; Sony introduced a service there called So-Net, offering a top speed of 2 Gigabits per second. It’s so fast, that the average computer can’t even handle it, so in effect it is reduced to 1 Gig. But that is still almost one hundred times faster than the average North American speed of around 17 megabits per second (based on the Ookla Net Index).
What can you do with 2 (1) gigabits per second? Not much, at this point. Experts say the average consumer wouldn’t even notice a difference between the two. Even 1 gig doesn’t appreciably change the average user’s experience at his computer. Once you get to 100 mbps, they say, it’s so fast that it no longer matters. The difference between 25 mbps and 1.5 mbps, however, is an eternity: 4.5 seconds vs 76 seconds to download a rather small 15 mb picture.
But Internet providers love to boast about the high speeds they offer, using words like “blazing” and “turbocharge.” The emphasis is clearly on young consumers, whose main activities online include browsing, downloading and uploading files of various kinds, streaming video and audio, and telephone access via Skype and the like. And, of course, gaming: high up- and download speeds mean no lag, means happy gamer.
But while being able to download a movie in less than a minute, or play a game without lag may be strongly appealing to some, as the song says, is that all there is?
Toronto and the Intelligent Community Forum
There’s a much more serious side to information technology, as the city of Toronto well knows. This year, Toronto was on the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) shortlist for its “Intelligent Community of the Year” award. The ICF has the very lofty goals of helping communities use IT to become more prosperous, solve social problems and enrich local cultures.
The Waterfront Toronto development of East Bayfront, which includes the Tridel condominium Aqualina, is one reason that Toronto was in the running for the ICF award this year. Toronto made the short list, but the winner was Taichung City, Taiwan. That city is about the same size as Toronto, and, according to the ICF announcement of its winning the title, it has created thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots, fiber-based broadband and 4G WiMAX that reaches 90 per cent of the population.
The East Bayfront development, where a whole new neighbourhood is about to be built, is to be equipped with a high-speed fibre optic network. Waterfront Toronto, the organization responsible for overseeing the development, says that the network will provide residents with 100 mbps internet service, neighbourhood-wide Wi-Fi, and access to their own unique community portal. The $60 monthly fee is guaranteed for ten years from the time the first residents move in.
The network will run fibre to each residential suite in the development, with the capacity to deliver 1 gigabit Internet service if required, and the ability to be adapted for 10 gigabits in the future. The standard 100 mbps they’re offering is fast enough to download a music album in five seconds, an hour-long TV show in thirty seconds, and a full-length movie in about seven minutes.
But it’s probably home business users who really stand to gain the most from high-speed Internet access like this, especially people who work with large graphic and video files that have to be shared and viewed by others. Being able to upload and transfer large files quickly is probably the most desired functionality for business users, and that will be provided at Bayfront. It may not be as important for a home business, but higher broadband speed allows more users to share devices like printers. In the end, being able to do any task quickly is an advantage, even if it’s just sending an e-mail or accessing a client website.