Two years ago Brian Wesolowski wrote here on Digital Qatar about the creation of the Qatar National Broadband Network Company and its remit to deliver fiber-to-home for an estimated 95% of Qatari households and businesses by 2015. Alongside the work being done by QNBN, Ooredoo is also rolling out fiber connections across the country. For many in Qatar 100MBps connections may soon become the norm. For some of you it may already be.
So what are the potential benefits of this new level of connectivity?
Evidence from countries such as South Korea and Japan – where these sort of speeds have been in place for longer – suggests that users simply do what they already did online, just that these speeds allow them to do it faster. Activity is often focused on entertainment services like social networking, watching videos on YouTube, multi-player online gaming and using IPTV services like Next Generation Mozaic TV.
Probably the most discernible benefit to consumers is download speeds. (See graphic.) Google Fiber – a pilot project in Kansas offering up to 1,000 Mb/sec download and upload (100 times faster than average American download speeds) – reiterates this entertainment focus by stressing benefits such as “Instant downloads” and “Crystal clear HDTV” with “access to live TV, on-demand shows, and Internet content” all controlled with a Nexus 7 tablet as the remote control. (I think that last bit is pretty cool.)
Image via Ooredoo. (Click on the image for a larger version)
But entertainment services are potentially only one part of the story.
The impact of these new speeds can benefit all walks of life from work through to eGovernment, Healthcare, Education, the Environment and Public Safety. They also create opportunities for new and improved assistive technologies too, whilst some aspects, such as the ability to better quality video/conference calls, transcend all of these areas.
Faster internet connections can unlock economic benefits too. A 2011 report conducted jointly by Ericsson, Arthur D. Little and Chalmers University of Technology, concluded that doubling the broadband speed for the economy of an OECD country increased its GDP by 0.3 per cent. This may not sound like much; but across the 33 OECD countries this is akin to $126 billion. A sizeable amount.
Some of these economic benefits derive from using faster broadband as a platform for innovation and the creation of new products, services and in some cases entire industries. Lest we forget, social networks aren’t even a decade old, but they’re now big business in many parts of the world. And growing very fast in our region, with Facebook and LinkedIn opening offices in Dubai last year. As a result, the U.S. Department of Labor, estimates that 65% of today’s grade school kids will end up at a job that hasn’t been invented yet. It is a sentiment applicable to many digital economies and may well become part of Qatar’s reality as the country moves towards delivering the 2030 National Vision.
As Ericsson’s Johan Wibergh said: “Connectivity and broadband are just a starting point for new ways of innovating, collaborating and socializing.”
Have you signed up to fiber at home or work? If so, how has it changed your life? Tell us below.