In four years there will be a 400% explosion in data consumption according to the latest research, and that could mean a few good things for us: better broadband plans, broadband for the masses, fewer caps, and better/more devices to help us gobble up that bandwidth. With global IP traffic expected to hit over 1.3 ZB (Yes, ZB as in zettabytes) of data in four years. So, what does the future of us broadband addicts look like? Read on to find out…
New Broadband Plans Abound
Broadband offerings from major providers coast to coast have been increasing dramatically. The fact that bandwidth is set to quadruple in just four years bodes very well for the prospect of faster data plans. After all, usage increases 4-fold would hardly seem possible with today’s hardware, right?
Another good sign that future broadband plans will be significantly faster is the fact that broadband speeds have been improving at a fairly dramatic pace. Starting with 128k and 256k plans in the very late 1990s in most markets, it was only a few years before 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps speeds were available. By the mid-2000s, major markets were hitting the high single digit to low double digit speed ratings with smaller markets close behind. By the time 2010 hit, even secondary markets were getting double digit speeds and triple digit speeds were just starting to show up. This would mean that even secondary markets should easily be hitting 100 Mbps speed in four years, an impressive fact considering that this was a common local area networking speed a decade or so ago. Comcast and AT&T both seem to be ahead of the curve in this regard, so it seems very likely.
New Areas Get Broadband Too
Another factor that will drive up consumption is not only existing areas getting faster plans, but areas that were previously unserved are finally joining the rest of us with broadband access. While it may be a very long time before rural areas are in the mid- to high-double digit bandwidth ratings, they are still likely to see significant increases that may finally signal the death knell for dial-up in the Land of the Free.
Broadband download caps are also increasing and may be completely removed or revamped by the end of these 4 years as well. It only makes sense that broadband caps would need some tweaking to help users reach the broadband data consumption expected in 2016. While it is probably not reasonable to assume that broadband caps would quadruple, they are probably going to continue to creep up slowly while the average users get closer and closer to the caps every single day.
Better Devices & Services
We have seen the rise of the smartphone, and that alone has driven data consumption and WiFi market penetration by leaps and bounds. Tablets are also driving this WiFi-fed broadband consumption as well, especially the passive portion of the data consumption. The same can be said for the current wave of data-hungry gaming consoles, all of which are due to be replaced by successors by 2016 by all rumors. Many rumors are pointing to driveless systems on at least one or two of the big name gaming consoles due out before the end of 2016. The number of passive devices that feed off of WiFi data streams such as smartwatches, intelligent appliances, and even security systems are all starting to pop up everywhere; In fact, many of the latest T.V. sets come with WiFi built-in as well as intelligent OSes capable of merging data with digital cable in intelligent ways.
Existing devices are also getting broadband-intensive data makeovers that are likely to see usage patterns that lean heavily toward more broadband usage. Online backup utilities and media streaming are two areas in particular that seem poised to drive bandwidth usage in the near future, but there may be others lurking just over the horizon. The ride to 2016 is certain to be a wild one for broadband enthusiasts. The question is: Is the ‘net ready for the future?