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The Broadband Consumer Dilemma

I’m writing this en route back to Austin, flying at over 500 miles per hour at an altitude of 35,000 feet. And I’m really frustrated that the in-flight internet isn’t working.

It is truly absurd.

Not that it’s not working but that I “expect” to maintain constant connectivity while being in a flying can more than 6 miles up in the sky.

But I do.

I’m not proud of it…and even wince a bit because I recall a comedian who in a skit made fun of reactions like this…of people like me. [Editor’s note:  here’s a video clip of Louis C.K.’s comedy clip that Doug references.]

The challenge for providers is that I believe there are a lot of people like me.  Our level of expectation is pretty outrageous and only getting higher.  In a stadium with 100,000 other smartphone carrying people, the air is filled with complaints about mobile connectivity, with the complainers not giving thought to the fact that they are in the midst of effectively 1/7th the population of my city packed into a single square block and seemingly all of them are tweeting, foursquaring, or facebooking about that last great play (which, for the Longhorns, was last year, btw).  Trying to download a video around 9pm - the start of the Internet’s prime time as we covered last week -- we complain about how “slow” the internet is, not giving any thought to the fact that the rest of the neighborhood is downloading a high-def movie too, or playing Halo, or having a video call.

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Blogging at 30,000 Feet: What’s Next?

September 22, 2010 at 12:00 pm PST

I’m currently enjoying in-flight wireless access on United Airlines on my way from San Francisco to New York City.  I have work to do, but now I can be connected and do it.  Technology enables me to be more productive and I appreciate that and I know my employer appreciates that.

Twenty five years ago the idea of having communications connectivity while in flight was preposterous because we didn’t really even have connectivity. Heck, 25 years ago, Cisco was just founded, so network connectivity at that point was largely reserved for research universities and defense departments.  The Internet and web browsing as we know them now did not exist. 

What will technology bring in 25 more years?  Cisco has some ideas around quantum routing (follow @DaveTheFuturist for more on this), holographic TelePresence (see: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Star Trek), and, in general, a smaller, connected, efficient, productive world brought together by the network for the betterment of society.

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