Image representing Netflix as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Bandwidth is booming! At least it is if you’re Netflix or YouTube, both of which dominated prime time ‘downstream’ internet usage during September.

Netflix continues to ride the wave that it set in motion with the extremely successful original series ‘House of Cards’, where as YouTube benefits from the sheer scope of its content, from the mainstream appeal of its Vevo partnership to the thousands of niches for original content channels.

The dominance of these streaming services is a major story in itself, but a nagging technology question underpins every such statistic: when will U.S. connection speeds increase to make room for increasingly bandwidth-hungry streaming services?

With multiple devices pushing our internet plans to their limit, the ‘buffering’ notice will only be tolerated for so long.

Bandwidth is Big Business

The challenge is not new to Internet users, who have been upgrading to the latest and greatest internet plan since we thankfully bid farewell to the crackle and pings of dial-up connections.

But the urgency is greater now, as web access becomes more of an expectation than a privilege. The shift in our viewing habits in particular is driving the need for a North American bandwidth boost, as more households route their programs through a web connection to the traditional television or, increasingly, say goodbye to the big screen entirely.

Everyone from technology giants to municipal governments realize this, if their actions are anything to go by. Google has successfully rolled out its pioneering Fiber project in the test market of Kansas City, with next steps set for the technology that promises connections of up to 1,000 Mbps (Megabits per second). This compares favorably to the expected maximum of Verizon’s latest FiOS, which at 500 Mbps would make it only half as fast and will only debut at some point next year.

In terms of infrastructure, Los Angeles has shown its determination to keep pace with technology by announcing the most enthusiastic city-led broadband project to date. ┬áIts plan would increase bandwidth in the city at various levels, offering standard high-speed Internet of around 5 Mbps to everyone within the city limits, and paid plans that could break into the Gbps (Gigabits per second) range. With a potential price tag of $5 billion dollars, bandwidth is big business whether you’re supplying or delivering it.

Bandwidth Boosts and the Potential for Piracy

With increased speeds comes greater opportunity for illegal access to copyrighted content. While the march of technology should not be slowed by advocates of ┬áintellectual property rights – quite the opposite, in fact – it is incumbent upon those of us seeking to protect creators to ensure that the legitimate access channels are those that succeed.

The success of the likes of Netflix and Spotify is evidence that consumers prefer legal, efficient services to watch their favorite shows and movies, listen to music, and the many other activities that are putting increased demands upon bandwidth around the country.

Close collaboration between technology companies, ISPs, and the entertainment industry will help to ensure that increased bandwidth becomes not only big business for those who provide the pipes of connection, but the creators of the content that fills them.

Enhanced by Zemanta