High-Speed Data Races Home; October 1999; Scientific American Magazine; by Clark; 6 Page(s)
Within a decade, most people in developed countries will have access to Internet connections that are tens if not hundreds of times faster than the ones in common use today. Although that development may not sound exactly earth-shaking, it will in fact herald an entirely new stage in the evolution of that global network.
Those high-speed connections to the home-whether they take the physical form of a telephone wire, a cable television line or a satellite link will give rise to an entirely new set of applications. Not only will enthusiasts be able to jump instantaneously from page to page on the World Wide Web-and will therefore use the Web much more often-they will also be able to enjoy applications that exist today only as crude prototypes or as concepts in the minds of visionaries and entrepreneurs. Real-time high-fidelity music, telephone, videoconferencing, television and radio programs could all be provided by a single service company over a single hookup. There will be new entertainment options, such as movies-on-demand, and new features, such as the ability to call up information about a movie's director or its actors as they appear on screen. Users will be able to play on-line games-live-against many contestants scattered around the globe. People separated by thousands of kilometers will be able to share virtual-reality experiences and work effectively together on a business or academic project.