Gigabit to the Home

On Wednesday, Google announced plans to build a pilot project that will install high speed fiber-to-the-home in select locations. They’re projecting gigabit speeds for this network and are planning to open it up, meaning that they’ll lease it to many service providers. I once participated in a workshop that demonstrated the use of cable TV wiring to bring digital information to the home. This was several years before I’d ever seen a browser, let alone a cable modem. The inventors thought they could provide a gigabit of speed, and to them, a gigabit was the holy grail, the speed at which everything changed. Today at 5 megabits, we’re getting less than 1% of that.

Google has only proposed a pilot project and it may be a while before anybody actually uses it. Still, the idea is tantalyzing, and, given enough time, inevitable. The major fiber-to-the-home scheme available now is Verizon’s FIOS. It offers 15-50 megabits.

Imagine that your connectivity is 100 times faster than it is now. And that you could buy it from multiple providers. That’s going to change digital editing in fundamental ways, making real-time remote collaboration possible and forcing editors to compete with each other worldwide. What would you do with speeds like that?

For more, see the Google Fiber for Communities page, or this article at Ars Technica. Use this link to nominate your community for the test.

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7 Comments on “Gigabit to the Home”

  1. Angela Says:

    Nice Article on Gigabit to the Home.

    I imagine how it will compare with current Verizon’s FIOS though.

  2. Steve Says:

    In theory it’ll be 20 or more times faster. Big difference.

  3. AndrewK Says:

    What would I do w/speeds like that? Get work to find a way for me to get to the xSan from home and edit in my bathrobe. Oh, and I’d move to someplace slightly less expensive than LA. ;)

  4. Nick Miller Says:

    Mr. Cohen,

    This is a very interesting connection you make between Google’s fiber optic project and motion picture editing. As someone who is very interested in the changing face of post-production and editing, I am immediately intrigued by the concept of real-time collaboration. While Los Angeles is still undoubtedly the heart of the entertainment industry, I cannot help but wonder what implications a network like this would have for editors based outside of Los Angeles, but whom would want to stay connected with the Hollywood industry. I do feel as though post-production is growing in other major cities. This technology could open up doors to new talent around the country. On the other hand, it could also make an already competitive industry even more competitive if remote, real-time collaboration becomes the norm in the future, allowing clients and editors to function worldwide and stay connected, and not just in Los Angeles. I have already noticed a trend towards remote collaboration lately. I recently read about Fuze Movie by Fuze Box, a piece of software that taps into the Skype video-conferencing network, allowing editors and clients to review cuts in real-time over the internet. I have also heard of “virtual color” stations in post-houses. For example, Drive Thru, Inc. in Minneapolis has a calibrated monitor in their facility that syncs with a color suite at Company 3 in Santa Monica, allowing a Minneapolis client to enjoy the talent of their favorite colorist in Los Angeles without having to fly. How do you perceive these and similar innovations from an editor’s perspective? Are they purely beneficial from an economical efficiency perspective (no need to get everyone under the same roof to view a cut)? What tangible benefits do you see for editors themselves?

    While real-time remote collaboration would undoubtedly save money for certain productions, one thing I would be wary of is the loss of human interaction. Especially for narrative filmmaking, I believe that human connection and communication is crucial to the storytelling process, and I cannot picture collaborating over a network or even video chatting replacing an editor and a director or an editor and a client talking face to face, in person, in the cutting room. What is your opinion on this? Google admits this is a test project with no guarantees, but I agree with you that an extremely high-speed network (even if not one gigabit) will inevitably come to fruition in the United States. I would be interested in your opinion as an editor if you think this technology could be a viable substitute for face-to-face collaboration, given the benefits. Perhaps it would be better suited for short-form creative content, such as TV spots and advertising? Or do you think it could actually catch on with feature films? Would it best be used as a fortification and amplification of face-to-face collaboration, rather than a logistical or economical workaround? Overall I find the possibilities intriguing. Thank you for shedding light on the potential future of digital editing.

  5. Steve Says:

    Nick,

    Good points, all. Getting speed that fast is going to change a lot of things, no question. Think how much getting 5 MB on cable modems has changed our world.

    But real gigabit is going to create some big, profound changes. For example, over time, it might reduce the population of cities, because you’d be able to function so well in the boonies. And it’ll reduce global warming from transportation.

    For us in post, the allure of not having to commute to work is balanced with the increase in wage competition that many editors are going to face. Unions and labor laws were created to counter such forces in an earlier era and I imagine we’re going to need something like that again.

    All of us know about customer support in the far east. That kind of thing won’t fly very well in some environments, and the time difference and the inability to really interact will be problems.

    I’m not great at long term predictions — unintended consequences always muck it up — but high speed networking is coming, sooner or later, and we’ll all have to adapt.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments —
    Steve

  6. Nick Miller Says:

    Yes, I did not even consider the transportation and time difference factors. Good observations. It is amazing how many facets of the working world revolve around the internet, even if indirectly, and how a simple innovation like a substantial boost in connection speed could change the way we do a lot of things. Provocative post, and as a film student, editor, and technology-enthusiast, I will continue to follow Splice Here. Cheers!


  7. cable tvs these days are rapidly being converted into a digital service which offers more value added services ‘.;


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