Most of the local news stories I’ve read about Google Fiber coming to Raleigh highlight the ability to “download YouTube videos quickly.” Quickly downloading the stuff you’ve always downloaded is cool, but it isn’t an Earth-shattering use case. The real value of Google Fiber is that Google treats the Internet the way it should be treated – like a two-way street.
Other broadband providers will sell you fast connections but those connections are strictly asymmetrical. You may get a 15 Mbps download speed but you’ll only get a 1 Mbps upload speed. You see, Big Telecom wants you to treat you as a “consumer,” meaning you’ll take whatever the media companies choose to give you. They don’t think of you as having anything to bring to the conversation.
Google Fiber is different. Not only can you get 1 Gbps download speeds, you also get equally fast 1 Gbps upload speeds! Your download and upload speeds are equal, exactly how God intended. You become a full partner in the Internet, able not only to download at blazing speeds a multitude of cat videos from YouTube but able offer up your own. Or, you can hold videoconferences with your friends without being interrupted by buffering. Or play video games with others without sluggishness.
When last year’s dreary, snow-filled winter kept everyone home, I had the hankering to hold a guitar-picking session with some of the musicians in the neighborhood. I thought it would be cool to do this over the Internet, but such coordination could never happen with traditional, compression-filled video solutions because the timing would always be off. With a fat pipe like Google Fiber on either end, a jam session could be held with neither side missing a beat. This would ordinarily only be possible with expensive, time-locked (and … well, ancient) technology like T1 or ISDN lines.
Couple this with the impromptu jam sessions we’ve seen around town during Raleigh’s new showcase event, the International Bluegrass Festival, and I predict you’ll soon see some really cool musical collaborations that wouldn’t ordinarily be possible. I would love to see roving teams of broadband broadcasters out beaming street music into the homes of viewers right as it happens.
The beauty of Google Fiber is that it enables everyone to contribute to the Internet. So, rather than thinking in terms of fast video downloads, imagine what fast upload speeds now make possible.