Impatience and the Terabit-Per-Second Internet Connection
Posted by Doug on October 21, 2008
So I was talking with my co-conspirator Yamane Ishi about downloading stuff off the Internet, and being the rather impatient fellow that I am, I lamented that it would be nice to, instead of working at a paltry ten megabits per second like I do via DSL, have a connection that was a little peppier. Like, say, 1 terabit per second (tbps).
Naturally, Yamane said that would still be too slow, and stated that 1 terabyte per second (TBps—these abbreviations are case-sensitive) would be better.
Well of course 1 TBps would be better than 1 tbps, since when you’re talking about speed, faster is better. It would be, by definition, eight times faster. There’s no argument there.
But the question that came to my mind is this: for the purposes of downloading entertainment (such as movies) off the Internet, would you ever really be able to tell the difference? It takes an average of 180 milliseconds for the human brain to detect visual stimuli. If you were downloading at 1 tbps or 1 TBps, would you really notice the difference in time it took?
Blu-ray disks currenly hold 50 GB, and can easily hold a two-hour-long movie and all the special features that come with it. At 1 tbps, it would take 50 milliseconds to download 50 GB; at 1 TBps, it would take a little over 6 milliseconds.
Either way, you click the link to start the download, and the download is over before your brain can even register that it has begun.
It takes me about 175 milliseconds to click a mouse (I did this little test I found, and got 57 clicks in 10 seconds. 10 seconds ÷ 57 clicks = 0.175 seconds/click). No doubt there are some hardcore mouse-clickers out there that could double or triple my score, but even still, if you clicked to start the download, it would be long over with before you could even think about canceling it, much less actually click your mouse one more time to cancel the download.
Of course, this whole little thought experiment is moot, as the technology for 1 tbps (or 1 TBps) internet in the home isn’t quite here yet. But in the February 15, 1997 issue of PC Magazine I’ve got sitting here, they quote a price of $25 to $50 for an ISDN connection, which might get 128 kbps. For $50 a month today, you can easily get 10 mbps. In another eleven years, will we be seeing 780 mbps as commonly available, for the same price? In 2030, will it be 60 gbps? For my sixty-fifth birthday, can I expect 4.6 tbps?
I just wish it was here already.