What does the internet do? Before the internet, Physical computing was limited to networks that were usually linked locally and typically on-site. During the late 1960s, several research programs began to explore and articulate principles of networking between physically separate networks of computer systems. Subsequently, the different programs led to efforts that allowed computers to communicate with specific internetworks, but these systems were disjointed until 1982. In that year, standard protocols were adopted to bring these networks together. During the 1980s and 1990s, the internet was commercialized and several for profit Internet Service Providers sprang up. We now live in an age Instantaneous Communication, as a result.
The World Wide Web - On August 6, 1991, CERN, a pan European organization for particle research, publicized The World Wide Web project, a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. With a Web browser, one can view web pages that may contain text, images, videos, and other multimedia and navigate between them using hyperlinks. The Web was invented by English scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989.
Todays Internet and the relation to our technological needs - The Discovery Institute's The Technology and Democracy Project has an interesting site. Their mission "supports technology as the key engine for economic growth and seeks to free its natural advancement from the burdens of undue government regulation."
In their article titled Estimating the Exaflood: The Impact of Video and Rich Media on the Internet – A ‘zettabyte’ by 2015? they state, "An upsurge of technological change and a rising tide of new forms of data are working a deep transformation of the Internet’s capabilities and uses."
Wall Street Journal Article: Unleashing the Exaflood
Wikipedia: The word exabyte is the basis for the term exaflood, a neologism created by Bret Swanson of the Discovery Institute in a January 2007 Wall Street Journal editorial. Exaflood refers to the rapidly increasing torrent of data transmitted over the Internet. The amount of information people upload, download and share on the Internet—known as internet traffic—is growing (due in large part to video, audio and photo applications) at an exponential rate, while the capacity of the Internet, its bandwidth, is limited and susceptible to a "flood" of data equal to multiple exabytes. "One exabyte is the equivalent of about 50,000 years of DVD quality video."
How does this relate to the Hickory Metro Area? - This is a real opportunity. We must buy into the process of expanding our local broadband capacities and get on the cutting edge of this issue. As you can see from the information above, the need will be there. With the positioning of the Google (Lenoir) and Apple (Maiden) data centers, here in the Hickory Metro Area, we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on this opportunity. Video is a driving force in the necessity to expand capacities. Ever expanding video demands include entertainment, advertising, video conferencing, medical imaging, and technical diagnostics.
Perspective. The Numbers don't lie - I will try to put this into perspective and this should be easy to understand for most. This link will take you to a Windows Media article entitled Understanding HD Formats. I read this article to see how much storage capacity was needed for 1 hour of HD video. The numbers are all in the compression, but for the most compressed HD video you will need 11 gigabytes. Of course this will sacrifice quality, especially as the picture is magnified and/or you increase the frame rate. 1080p HD video at 24 frames per second (this is currently considered full HD) will require 328 gigabytes for 1 hour of video.
Currently there are two main types of storage media that can handle this amount of data capacity, Hard Disk drives which are becoming affordable at 1 or 2 terabytes (terabyte=1,000 gigaytes or 1 million megabytes) and blu-ray optical discs, which are the size of a CD (or DVD), and can hold 50 gigabytes on the Dual Layer version. A 1 terabyte Hard drive can hold a little over 90 hours of fully compressed high definition video, but only a little over 3 hours of full HD uncompressed video. Are you with me? We are going to have to see an exponential expansion of our computing technological horizons, in the near future, if we are going to realize this potential.
My stepfather was the Data Processing Manager of Catawba County back in the early 1980's. The computers took up the bottom left side of the Catawba County Library building in Newton. Of course that system is no longer there, because the information that was assembled by those monstrous tape reels on those huge mainframes will probably fit on a flash drive on your key chain these days. That should give you some real perspective.
Remember the days of the old 14.4 kb/second modem. It would take right at 1780 hours of continuous downloading using those modems, that were a benchmark less than 20 years ago, to download 1 hour of compressed HD video. That is 74 days. That means it would take 148 days (nearly 5 months) to download most movies. And 1 hour of Full uncompressed HD would take 53,076 hours to download. That is 2,211 days to download, which is a little over 6 years.
Todays typical download connection rates are 3 to 5 mb/sec to the home in the Hickory Metro Area. Saying 3 mb/sec is the standard, then it is 208 times faster than that old 14.4 modem. That means that 1 hour of compressed HD video can now be downloaded in 8 1/2 hours, but it would still take 10 1/2 days to download that full HD uncompressed video. You can see that we have come a long way, but we have a long way to go in a short time frame in dealing with technology that is already here.
Businesses can typically purchase Cable, DSL, and other current technology packages that will boost their download capabilities to 30 to 50 mb/sec. That is 10 times faster than what is available to the home, but the costs are prohibitively more expensive. At those download speeds, that 1 hour of compressed HD video can now be downloaded in a little over 50 minutes, and the Full HD uncompressed video would now take 1 1/2 days to download. But, what you must realize is that these companies would have to concentrate all of their broadband resource capability on this one task to accomplish this goal.
Think about a doctor, in the near future, wanting to send a High Definition MRI or Cat Scan of one of his patients to a colleague over the internet. Can that doctor or patient afford to wait days for that information to be uploaded and downloaded from different locations? That is the kind of importance we are talking about.
The Hound wants your attention: We have current businesses here, in this area right now, that are going to need us to expand this capacity. Alan Jackson and Pat Appleson are two businessmen in our area that are going to need this capability to be able to compete in their fields. Alan owns the Jackson Group and his business specializes in Research and Marketing utilizing Multimedia for both Public and Private entities. Pat Appleson is the owner of Pat Appleson Studios. Pat's company is a full service broadcast production company, which provides services that create commercials for ads on radio and television and in other multimedia forums. Pat (and I am sure Alan also) has equipment that he cannot fully utilize, because we don't have the broadband infrastructure that can handle his equipment's full potential. I would hate to lose two great businesses, in this area, because these gentlemen can't compete in their industries. And soon that might happen, if we don't upgrade our Broadband Network.
Terry Bledsoe, Catawba County's Information Technology Director, has talked about the need to reinvigorate our local Broadband Infrastructure. He has talked about Wilson, NC's High Speed Broadband Network. Wilson has built a Broadband Infrastructure that currently allows for 100 mb/sec connections to the home and 1 gb/sec to businesses. That is basically 30 times faster than the Hickory Metro's Broadband Infrastructure. While this is not the be-all, end-all address of our Information and Technological needs, it is certainly a guidepost and map that we can learn from.
Video is only one computing capacity that has and is expanding at exponential rates. There are also a multitude of needs from the automation of industry to communication for personal and public entities to control of corporate and public information systems and the expansion of educational opportunity. These are just a few of the necessities we must address in order for our community to move forward into a positive future.
With invention and innovation, we cannot possibly envision every need on the horizon. Think of how far we have come since the web became functional in 1982. Think of what this area was then and where we are today. I doubt that you could imagine that whole industries would virtually be wiped off of our map. Here is an opportunity, our opportunity, we must seize it!!!