Century Link just launched a new high-speed Internet service available in select neighborhoods in Columbia and Jefferson City. The service transfers data at up to 1 gigabit per second. The ultra-fast fiber network also launched in 12 other cities nation wide.
“It's like horse riding versus a sport car.”
That was Professor Dong Xu, chair of the Computer Science Department in engineering at the University of Missouri. He says most Americans who use the Internet have a 10-megabit per second service. The 1-gigabit network can be up to a hundred times faster. He says a typical movie on a DVD is less than one gigabit so you could essentially upload or download an entire DVD in less than a second.
“I talked about the residential use for watching movies, playing video games, but actually this high speed is more important for business. That said, nowadays, many businesses have so called "big data problem". So there is a dramatic amount of data and then you really need to analyze it, across the Internet.”
Xu said in order to handle big data you need good infrastructure. Columbia is home to companies that heavily rely on technology, and Internet speeds play a significant role. Xu thinks this Century Link service might help Columbia attract and retain businesses.
According to Ookla, the global leader in broadband and networking testing, within the country, Missouri ranks 4th and 15th in download and upload speeds. Part of why Missouri did so well in this ranking is a similar service offered by Google called Google Fiber. It’s available to select customers in Kansas City which was the first testing ground for the service. Toby Rush of EyeVerify, is one of them.
“It has made a difference in our efficiency, ultimately that flows to the bottom line. I would be hard pressed to put a dollar amount to it.”
EyeVerify is a mobile software company that transforms a picture of your eye into a key that protects your digital life.
“We deal a lot with pictures. Lots and lots and lots of photos…I remember we used to think about, literally we'd time our big, moving big batches of images to do at night because if you do it during the middle of the day you would just hose the access for everybody.”
He says he thinks Google is changing the paradigm of internet connectivity.
“What Google has done is accelerate the change, or accelerate the adoption of that ubiquitous high speed, wired and wireless network that will open an entire new way that we live and work and play…The parallel I use is electricity. So when you think about electricity, you never go to someone’s house and wonder wow, will they have enough electricity to charge my stuff? Or you don’t go to a hotel and I wonder if there will be a plug-in in my room. You just don't think about that. It's so ubiquitous, it’s so cheap… And I think we're heading to a place where connectivity is the same thing.”
Chief Technology Officer Gary Lee at Veteran’s United Home Loans in Columbia says we’re not there yet, and more development in IT infrastructure still needs to happen.
“You know, for businesses, it has to get to the point where this is ubiquitous across the entire country… So you know, if everything that I was accessing was in Columbia then this would be, I would be running down the street very happy, but since most of what I'm accessing is all around the US, it’s not as big for me as a business person.”
In those Ookla ratings, the U.S. ranks 25th and 47th worldwide in broadband download and upload speeds.