Adoption increased and the web expanded when the hardware capabilities and connection speeds increased significantly.
Our computers, be they desk or laptops have the processing power and memory to sufficiently handle the tasks at hand, but our connection speed remains a limiting factor.
The US is way behind in connection speed. We are ranked 14th worldwide and while 25% of users have 5mbps, this pales in comparison to other countries. The US average is 10.12mbps with the fastest US city being San Jose with 15mbps. Worldwide the top ten cities have at least 17mbps with the top at 34mbps – twice the best in the US, according to Akamai. 5mbps is considered to be high-speed.
As an example, I tested my wired desktop (you can here) and it was 1.2mbps download and much lower upload. I have to use DSL at home, because cable is only one way. Today I’m working from a community college with wireless and tested my laptop at 584kbps download and 370kbps upload. My phone is a Blackberry Curve on ATT Edge network and the apps work fine (Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, Yelp) but the browser is so slow I only use it on the rarest of occasions (couldn’t find a speed test for it, but would like to). I should also note, I’m not in a rural environment living 60 miles west of New York City and north of Philadelphia.
The Communication Workers of America created Speed Matters. Speed Matters is a project developed to provide high-speed internet access to Americans. They state, “High speed Internet is essential for economic growth, job creation, and global competitiveness.” I couldn’t agree more.
How do we increase connection speeds? To date the development and growth of the web has been left in the hands of private business. Speed Matters notes that the US is the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promote universal, affordable, high-speed internet access. If not government funded, it should at least be government inspired.
Connection speed is critical to adoption and usage. If the connection speed renders the service inefficient it won’t be used. As we use more cloud based software and engage in greater degrees of online collaboration, we’ll need to have the greatest connection speeds possible. Without it, the next big bump won’t come.