High bandwidth applications
Back when I first started web programming, my personal computer had a blazing fast 14.4 modem that when connected to my local ISP could get about 9600. The speed increased dramatically when I finally broke the budget, changed to a new ISP and built my own computer with a shiny new 56k modem. At least then I was liable to get 36k speeds. That was back when I didn’t mind waiting a few hours to download the latest version of Netscape (though at the time I recall not having enough disk space or memory to run it). I also didn’t mind being in a fancy web based chat room (that’s right, no IRC for me!) where the page refreshed every few seconds. Aah, the simple life. Now I hear complaints at home when the network runs slowly or has some lag spots because two people are playing World of Warcraft with bittorrent client in the background and upstairs some streaming video/music is being run. Now the web is becoming the home entertainment center, from simple browsing and game playing to streaming movies and music. But even the game playing has improved dramatically. I cut my teeth on text based role playing games (generically called muds) but have finally taken the step to the video based MMORPG (massively multiplayer online roleplaying game) of World of Warcraft.
So where does this lead us in the way of bandwidth? Well it appears that our Internet providers are getting fed up with us actually using the features they are so proudly flaunting against their rivals. Comcast has been accused of limiting the bandwidth to torrent users, and the latest news is Time Warner doing a pricing scheme based on the amount of bandwidth each person uses. To me, this means higher prices to get the crappy ISP service we currently get, and it doesn’t look like there will be any relief. In my area I have a choice between Verizon FIOS and Comcast, though I wouldn’t call it a choice. In the end, it’s almost the same price for either, and I’d rather not use either with the <insert high sarcasm here> great customer service both provide. So for right now this pricing scheme is really only supposed to be targeting the big adHoc P2P (peer-to-peer) network users (aka bittorrent, joost,skype,KaZaA & other file sharing networks). What will that mean for people who use such things as IP Phones, or are doing the streaming high resolution video downloads like Netflix?
I find that soon it will be like those of us in the US who are now searching for a way to downsize their vehicles. Everyone jumped on the large car bandwagon (though we clearly did not need them) when the going was good. This is not unlike the popular web downloads of high bandwidth material, everyone wants to build things bigger and faster and shinier and just plain cool, so we can all ooh and aah and say how nifty the site is. So how will new pricing strategies or bandwidth throttling affect those neat-o sites with lots of streaming things and pretty programs? What about those sites offering paid downloads of blue-ray quality movies, are we going to have to pay double soon, one for bandwidth and one for the movie itself? Today’s web holds a lot of vehicles with low gas mileage, are they too going to go the way of the Hummer?