Robust broadband networks are key enablers of innovation. Without these ubiquitous networks entrepreneurs cannot instantly reach customers. The electronics that power modern fiber optic networks enable them to carry hundreds of simultaneous streams of voice, video and data under oceans and across countries. High-speed networks are a major factor in lowering the cost of entry for entrepreneurs developing innovative services.
The biggest change in broadband networks is the development of resilient, high-capacity 4th generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile networks. LTE networks are designed for data and enable the transmission of video, and data streams that transmit health-monitoring applications that remotely monitor blood pressure and diabetes data. Imaging data on broadband networks allow physicians to analyze x-ray and MRI images from health care facilities in remote locations. Mobile networks transmit banking and money transfer applications to developing countries in Asia and Africa that foster commerce.
The increased availability, capacity and speed of broadband and mobile networks enable social networks, cloud computing and video innovators including Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix to offer pioneering services to smartphones, tablet computers and set-top boxes via Wi-Fi and mobile networks.
Without the availability of home Wi-Fi and broadband Internet access, it would not be feasible for start-ups to launch innovative services for social networks. Mapping, online video games, and travel applications used with Google, Apple, and TenCent in China are a direct result of the availability of broadband.
Netflix is an over-the-top video provider that streams movies and television over the Internet to mobile devices and TVs. They have more customers than any other cable TV provider in the United States and are expanding into Europe and Latin America. Other over-the-top providers benefiting from high-capacity broadband include Amazon’s Lovefilm in Germany and the UK; and Rakuten Inc.’s Wuaki.tv in Spain. It’s economically feasible to offer low cost video streaming to millions of customers without building costly cable TV networks.
Worldwide connectivity is a double-edged sword with challenges as well as opportunities. When everyone can be connected to everyone else, thorny Issues of privacy, hacker attacks, and cyber terrorism emerge.