Whats the Next and 1st Big Broadband Application ?

We are in the broadband era.  There have been stairstep increases in broadband speeds on a market by market basis across the country and the world.  As fiber and Docsis 3.0 enter markets, providers jack up their download speeds to 50 and even in some cases 100mbs.  That’s great. Speed is always what we need. But what has it brought us so far ?

To date, the best and brightest among you have not been able to create and deliver any new applications that take advantage of magnitudes higher of broadband.  Not in the U.S., not elsewhere around the world that I have seen.  It seems to me that the most popular use of bandwidth that we have been able to come up with is  retransmitting TV, Movies and User Generated Content over the net.    Maybe we can add online gaming. Replacing consoles in the cloud. Then there is online backup. (disclosure , im an investor in Filesanywhere) That’s all I can think of.  Is that the best we can do with our bandwidth ?

Of course not. There are medical, security, engineering, defense and even shared processor applications in private networks. But where are they for the net ? You can’t blame cable and telco ISPs. While bandwidth to the home may be limited, thats not the case at universities and corporations. Its not hard or expensive to buy cloud computing from the likes of Amazon, or to put a server next to gigabits of bandwidth at hosting centers. The opportunity to invent new apps or to convert high end commercial apps is there. Why dont we see them available to us  ?

I’m a believer that there will be new high bandwidth applications that are truly beneficial to society that start to appear in the next 5 years.  I also believe that there will be “bandwidth viruses”.  hackers will be able to wipe out 100pct of your bandwidth and everything and anything you want to do by simply hosting P2P applications on unsuspecting host computers in our homes that send and receive hundreds of megabytes of noise. If that doesn’t work, the little kid next door can encode his softball game at 20mbs or more per second and get all his buddies around town to continuously receive the stream. Thats all it takes to slow your internet connection to a crawl. In a net neutrality  world, he has every right to do that as often as he likes.  Unless of course there are bandwith limits.

The point is that the concept of “open internet” where you can use any and all bandwidth how you want, when you want, is very, very flawed.  I agree that we should not segregate or discriminate by protocol or destination.  That creates a hierarchy of problems.  Bits are agnostic. They dont care what they hold, where they originate or what their destination is.

At some point, we have to recognize that in order for high bit rate applications to succeed , at the levels of latency they require, we need a way for people to buy the bandwidth and performance they need, dedicated to the application they want to run.  If you need or want more bandwidth for the high end applications that appear, you should pay for them.

69 thoughts on “Whats the Next and 1st Big Broadband Application ?

  1. The other problem is content, there has to be a general amount of interest available for the user to become interested in being online. We won’t see this for probably some time I predict, that is a determinate unforseen.

    Comment by s3rcy -

  2. Partial problems lie in the technology itself. if users still desire to complete applications or simple commands that are not available what else is available. The other problem is content, there has to be a general amount of interest available for the user to become interested in being online. We won’t see this for probably some time I predict, that is a determinate unforseen.


    Comment by sencene -

  3. I reckon that the problem isn’t so much the bandwidth as I’m familiar with apps that run at very low bandwidth (for social netowrks). The problem is the expectations and who’s paying for the development. Advertisers want to develop ads and get your ‘eyeballs’ on the ads. Highly sophisticated visual advertisements take loads of bandwidth — as Mark mentioned, so might the video of the neighborhood softball game. Here’s where the net neutrality comes in: you want to run an app on my network? You’re entitled to this much bandwidth per person. Video streaming takes 10x the bandwidth of audio streaming. I don’t think we’re there yet. I know we’re not. But, because the advertisers can embed their content there, then they pay for that. The rest of us are left with the smoldering crumbs of the Internet to try to put together apps and get “eyeballs”. Gary Larson (Far Side) style art work, instead of Pixar.

    Comment by robwood -

  4. i don’t agree the internet should be open. as soon as the government gets involved based on the type of scenarios suggested they will eventually get control over it and we will be compromised. i say leave it open and let people do as they want on it. it is a network of us so let us use it as we please so long as it is legal.

    Comment by robert dowling` -

  5. Briadband has in actual fact enabled me o deploy a scaleable full screen magazine publishing paradigm. Couldnt do it before, since each page was 100-200kb to maintain accuracy. Needed it to scale also, so it would fit a home theater 1920 x 1080 down to 1024 x 768 screen. lots of challenges. But in todays speeds it works
    http://ctngreen.com/2009/mar/?page=20 stuff like this works.

    I’m hoping to deploy this across interactive web-enabled channels in HD when that evolves. You can navigate and play with a handheld remote.

    BTW Fairpoint ( aquired FIOS ) in new england is not carrying HDNET, COMCAST is strangleholding us.

    Comment by Jeff Johnson -

  6. Hi Mark,

    Video is the broadband application. Since you own your own television channel(s), you can help to set the trend but people want to digest video when they want and where they want. The cable companies have it all wrong trying to make more money from bandwidth. Instead consider being able to simulcast shows online and on television. People would have an account where they specificy what time zone they live in so they can watch online.

    For the people watching on a television, there’s a box to the right which would have a chat window where people can watch the shows together. It would be like a chat room on your television. Lots of people watch television shows together so what better than to take social networking and broadcast television and combine them.

    In terms of the reason why…first networks and cable operators would be able to sell advertising against both the on and offline component. Plus – there’s no easier way get people to talk about something.. products, episodes than to let the conversations take place online.

    This would allow the cable, fiber and satellite companies to add a feature which would make them money on the back end without needing people on the front to pay. Or if they want to be greedy for $5.99, you can get the option but that would lower the rate of adoption.

    More and more people are hooking up boxes to their TV to bypass cable companies, but everyone doesn’t want to deal with the lag between BitTorrent or Hulu – they want to watch it when they’re used to watching it.

    By blending and blurring the television experience on and offline (even mobile – with 4G), you have a broadband application which will revolutionize how video is monetized and give old companies new streams of revenue.

    Comment by tvlampsn -

  7. This post seems like a bit of a Trojan horse. Obviously, applications built specifically for high speed networks and bandwidth caps are related, but it seems like most people will agree with the first premise without hesitation (“yeah! there should be more cool, fast stuff!”), but might not think twice about your second premise, regarding limits. I don’t know enough about the debate to take a side at this juncture, but I don’t think premise 2 necessarily follows premise 1.


    Comment by naughtygeneration -

  8. It’s not Youtube’s new Video service with movies and TV shows. I can’t believe they released that site. Finally, something the are not even second best at…Hulu leaves them in the dust.

    Maybe you should launch your video content site. I’m sure you could do better.

    Comment by Darren Fox -

  9. i agree
    but time warner wants

    $25 for 5gig per month
    $35 10gig
    $45 20gig
    $55 40gig

    and $1 per gig on overages.

    thats outrageous.


    ive heard a super 100 gig talked about(no idea on the price)
    but even that isnt enough for some.


    Comment by chris -

  10. Google Losing up to $1.65M a Day on YouTube is also very interesting.

    I wonder how twitter also will be able to become monetized (if ever)

    Comment by Playboys Blog -

  11. Good, thanks for the information.

    Comment by FortMcDowellCasinoArizona -

  12. This post very good…

    At some point, we have to recognize that in order for high bit rate applications to succeed , at the levels of latency they require, we need a way for people to buy the bandwidth and performance they need, dedicated to the application they want to run. If you need or want more bandwidth for the high end applications that appear, you should pay for them.

    Comment by This post very good -

  13. so true, good post

    Comment by FortLasVegas -

  14. broadband isn’t really so effective right now. especially if you have load of works… many broadband signal do not work as we expect them to work… i would say, i think DSL can be better than broadband. (www.kika.ca)

    Comment by Kenneth Sena -

  15. I think this is a very interesting question. Google really losing that much on youtube a day?

    Comment by GemCap -

  16. i think the same Mark, that’s true.

    Comment by FourQueensHotelVegas -

  17. Pingback: Mark Cuban asks the Right Question « Seeding Civic Media

  18. Next and 1st Big Broadband App? Heck, Mark, it’s staring us in the face, hidden in plain view. It’s got to be what America needs most in this age of polarized, hyper-partisan politics: an intelligent, non-partisan, issue-centered large-audience decision making process that uses bandwidth to strengthen America’s ability to solve problems and maximize opportunities.

    Is this asking too much? Why the hell don’t we already have one when everyone yaks on and on about the need for it?

    How would it work? Easy, the tools for it are already available. Think of a structured competition, a competition of competitions, somewhat like American Idol, that integrates the Internet, telephony and network TV to connect competitors and the viewing/participating public. That of programming that helps Americans find and advance the information they need in order to make smart decisions on the political decisions that affect their lives, communities and country.

    This decision-making process is big. Fully developed, it taps the MARKET OF THE WHOLE of all 300 million Americans. In fact it’s the transformative programming that network TV execs are looking for (but resist I suspect on account of their profitable ties to the political status quo.) Once in place, this broadband app becomes part of what it means to be an American. I call it civic media. Its greatest task at the moment would be help all Americans work their way out of the recession or depression we’re in now. But civic media handles any task, whether it’s finding solutions to the problems of student loans, gangs and drugs, immigration or health care. Or maximizing opportunities like developing the most fuel efficient auto or best low cost housing.

    Link above makes the case for “America’s Choice” and gives particulars. Link also links to a blog, Weathering the Storm, that seeks to define the parameters of the global financial crisis.

    Comment by Steve Sewall — April 13, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

    Comment by Steve Sewall -

  19. Bandwidth? Wasn’t it you Marc who said the old analogue lines ate a huge amount of bandwidth and that digital doesn’t even come close to using analogue’s bandwidth? So why do these companies, after changing to digital, complain about bandwidth? Shouldn’t they have enormous amounts of bandwidth free? This is just another money grab I think…

    Comment by Bert -

  20. Interesting article.

    Headline … Google Losing up to $1.65M a Day on YouTube


    Comment by Justin Madison -

  21. Hey Mark,
    I am not sure if this is kind of what you are talking about or not. We did not write any kind of application for the public but we are making very good use of as much bandwidth as we can possibly get right now. I am the owner of a medical diagnostic company that performs at home video seizure and brain monitoring we have a patent pending on our device and procedure. Each study lasts about 72 hrs with high resolution multiple camera video. This process has to be done very precisely or the reading neurologist could miss the slightest detail which could be very important to the diagnosis. When we are finished we upload the study to our Cytrix server to be viewed by an interpreting neurologist which are all over Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Each study is about 100 gigs of data with synchronized video that we can have read through our server. We currently have 22 licenses from Cytrix so that 22 different studies can be read at one time. We have just put the finishing touches on our newest invention where we can go into any hospital room and monitor patients while streaming the data with synchronized video to any monitoring unit in the country. This will enable us to bring big city neurology to small towns and not only change lives but probably save them as well. So, while we are not writing apps we are using broadband to its fullest to help people. We are still just a small company that is growing at a steady pace over the past 4 years but we are also using and inventing technology in a very meaningful way. The funny thing is that we are able to save the patients and their insurance companies about 60% of their usual cost and still can’t get Blue Cross Blue Shield to even talk to us. Every other insurance carrier, including medicare jumped at the chance to do a contract with us but not Blue Cross.


    Comment by Gary -

  22. Mark, OF COURSE it’s not the best we can use our bandwidth. how about using some of it to help the nation – citizens and government – work its way out of the mess that Wall Street got us into?

    Link above takes you the the first of four sites; I spend most time on Weathering the Storm, which tries to define the paramaters of the global financial crisis. (I’m no economist, only an English major & real broker who read the read the folks who saw it coming two and three years ago.)

    Comment by Steve Sewall -

  23. Mark, of course it’s not the best we can use our bandwidth, how about using some bandwidth to improve citizen/government communication in this country so we can begin work to our way out of the mess that Well Street got us into?

    Comment by Steve Sewall -

  24. Good, thanks for the information.

    Comment by ElCortezHotel -

  25. But right now we need more and more… the net grows also the need for speed.

    Comment by ElCortezCasino -

  26. Increased bandwidth will likely cause digital sprawl: it’s time to look at zoning. Videoconferencing with an MD lives or dies on reliabilty.

    Comment by Henry McGovern -

  27. Mark,
    I agree that the open internet… It was really a great read like always, I also like the idea of FilesAnywhere…

    Comment by Graham McBride -

  28. BTW, I’ll add that user authentication will not be the old, SecurID card, a signature, or the like. A new micro-payment system will use information from a profile. The user is authenticated by what the user is, what the user knows, what the user does, etc., such as the user’s physical features via video, the user’s historical actions and perspectives, the user’s personality characteristics, etc. It will reduce fraud considerably.

    Comment by freeway2000 -

  29. The next big thing won’t be in broadband. It’ll be a new, effective micro-payment system that rivals Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, etc. It’s been well discussed and is well overdue, but it’s appearance has been stiffled by the banking mess of the last few years. It’ll help a lot of online businesses. When it appears then a huge jump in Web usage and online shopping will be seen.

    Regarding broadband, when it becomes more prevalent look for Justin.tv wannabees or else the how-to, show-me experts to be everywhere. The former is Twitter on steroids.

    Comment by freeway2000 -

  30. The perfect social application for this would be a webcam broadcast version of twitter from mobile phones – if the cellular architecture could support that kind of streaming along with consumer bandwidth platforms. After all, everyone wants to be on TV, and everyone wants to know what’s happening in town and watch other people’s lives, right Mark? Advertisement would pay for it.

    Comment by Clayton Silva -

  31. T1-T3 is available and people do pay for it. While I agree that the first step to making the marketplace for high bandwidth applications a market is probably commercializing it, what specifically are you proposing? Higher prices available from companies like Charter for above T3 speeds? Maybe I’m just ignorant on bandwidth speeds and usages in general. If a factory could be outfitted with faster bandwidth network communication between its assembly line, products, and workers then I’m sure it could be beneficial, but how much faster is this bandwidth you speak of than T3?

    Comment by Clayton Silva -

  32. Excellent thought, Marc!

    So far we see primarily applications for consumers or business usage, but rarely one that combines both, providing true value to either group of clients.

    The Healthcare Industry might be one that could benefit both as it concerns millions of players (providers, doctors, atorneys, consumers).

    Creating a web platform for medical record management, that empowers the patient to be soley in control of his/her own records, yet allowing them to grant permission to doctors/providers etc. of their choice to access those records.

    Server based indexing to all records the system will be aware of would allow doctors, clinics, univerities to search for relevant conditions / sympthoms / desease etc for reference, studies, research. Any partitcpant could request access to the records, but its up to the owner/patient to regulate it, allowing full access, limited and so forth.

    Some of the values added would be
    – a standarized system for medical record management
    – cost reduction for studies / research projects
    – immediate access to patient’s mediacal history for doctors in emergencies
    – identification of abusive patterns in work compensation cases

    Granted, this would be a extremely large and wide scope for a project but certaibly beneficial for the majority of consumers and business, and with a purpose beside gaming, and social networking.

    Comment by Bernhard -

  33. hello, my name is Xie Xinyu.I give myself an English name called kid.Actually , I am a kid ,too.I am a student come from china.Sorry about my poor English.I can’t say so much.but I want to tell you.I’m your fans.I also like mavericks very much.I don’t know what should say.I seach your blog on the Internet and found this.I hope this is your blog and you are mark cuban.If you are , can you tell me your e-mail? i want to communicat with you if you don’t mind i just a china kid.and here is my e-mail 332373802@qq.com I waiting for your mail

    Comment by kid -

  34. All the discussion of bandwidth doesn’t mean that much when upload speeds are so limited. My download speed is currently 7mbps, but upload is 768kpbs. I’m probably going to drop down to 1.5-3mbps since it will save be $10-$20 a month and won’t really affect anything I do.

    Until we can get more realistic upload speeds, I think the killer app is still going to be what Mark mentioned.

    Comment by Ryan Collins -

  35. Interesting post thanks!

    Have you looked at South Korea? They’ve had very high bandwidth since the 90s and companies like NCSoft have years of experience developing high bandwidth games for millions of users. So I’m curious why you thing gaming is a maybe. To me it’s obviously the first big app category.

    In general, I think the apps ecosystem just adapts to the available bandwidth, so we’ll get *something* that’s for sure! But already we can see the first few. As you point out with the kid consuming 20Mbps, personal communications bandwidth can easily jump by an order of magnitude. I think a mobile remote-controlled robot with secure webcam would be a big app — you can “look” for something at home while you’re away. Mass-market video conferencing (yes I know it’s been a joke for 40 years) will be huge if someone comes up with the right devices and UI. Throw in backups and all the other examples you mention and 100Mbps per person is nothing, I wouldn’t worry about the demand from apps being there.

    I agree with you that flat rates are not sustainable, providers should eventually be able to charge for usage somehow but “not segregate or discriminate”. Also as another commenter said, it should be very cheap when no one else is using it. Or as an economist would say, the usage price should equal the marginal cost of congestion. It’s possible to achieve all of the above, many pricing schemes have been developed along those lines. I did a lot of work on real-time auctions for bandwidth for example.

    But I don’t think rational pricing is anathema to “open internet” at all. The open internet issue is mainly not discriminating between content providers. All sides would be happy if the broadband providers could put in place the right pricing plans that are efficient and not exploitative. Instead, their own marketing has them stuck falsely promoting “unlimited” flat rate plans, misinforming unsophisticated consumers and alienating their heaviest users.

    Comment by Nemo Semret -

  36. Mark,

    Love the idea of FilesAnywhere. Gave it a try but can’t for the life of me figure out how to mount a network drive in windows! Ahhh. Great blog, love it.

    Comment by Todd Vernon -

  37. Two thoughts on this issue…

    1. I don’t disagree with bandwidth caps but I do disagree with the “overage” business model which is used to achieve it. Sure, companies that are testing this model are promising to help users track their usage but just the knowledge that “if I use up my bandwidth, I will have to start paying for it” makes me constantly worry about the fact that the meter is running. And the proposed overage rates ($1/GB) are substantial… enough that netflix is much cheaper than streaming a couple films. Here is a better solution: have tiered bandwidth caps but guarantee every customer unlimited internet at 200kbs. So, the internet is ultrafast until you use up the cap and then you move to the slow lane. In the slow lane, you can check your email and load the news but your are not going to get hulu. This is GREAT for the typical user: they get fast internet (assuming most people purchase the right amount and don’t run out) and don’t pay the same rate as the ultraheavy user who is streaming and sharing video 24/7.

    2. Why don’t cable companies form a product which is halfway between TIVO and HULU? Here is how I envision it working: the cable company has a website that lists all the shows which are available “almost on demand” and every customer has a DVR. The customers queue the shows that they would like to see and the cable company broadcasts these shows to the customers DVRs based on the number of customers requesting. Then, instead of sending each show to each customer individually (like hulu does) the cable company waits for a reasonable number of people to be ready to want the show and then broadcasts the show. So, when you ask to watch the episode of Lost that you missed two weeks ago, the network waits for a couple hundred people to want to watch it and then broadcasts it and those people pick up the show on their DVRs. For a popular show, you may only wait 10 minutes or an hour for the show to be broadcasted. But if you ask for an obscure show, you wait until off peak hours when there is extra bandwidth to receive the show overnight at off peak hours.

    Think of this as a model of TV without a TV guide… certain programs are available and sent to users DVR upon request as soon as possible. But the cable company can do the scheduling and save much of the bandwidth required to send users individual streams.

    Comment by Alex -

  38. how about ever more elaborate scripts, like Javascript and its descendants? Of course there is no real reason why ALL of the Javascript for Gmail should be loaded into the browser every time we use it. But, that’s how the browsers nowadays work and nobody is trying to change that. Well, so this means that without any further changes to the browser bigger bandwidth will allow ever more bloated Javascript based web-apps. Indeed, come to think of it, broadband is the SINA QUE NON of even the current level of Javascript bloat, let alone something 50 or 1000 times more than that :). Note that I am not in any sense claiming that it’s a good thing, but then Mr. Parkinson didn’t claim that growth of bureaucracy is a good thing either. He just studied it like people study plague epidemics…

    In any event, why are you concerned about bandwidth and broadband issues? The real power and the real money on the internet is not in improved videos or in improved Hellfire missiles with wireless videocameras. The REAL money is in better teleconferencing – that is, combination of VoIP (which we already have) with better, ever more clever ways to collaborate with remote people doing useful stuff (working, studying, playing games etc). Invest in THAT, and you will find out that the internet is neither “dead” nor “boring”. To the contrary, it’s more like California in the year 1848, a land full of gold that is just waiting for the smart guy who will bother to bring the shovel and start digging 🙂



    Comment by Michael Lyubomirskiy -

  39. Working from home is a “killer app” for me. When I was telecommuting 100% of the time, I would go through 20GB down and a good bit up just with large files. However, my broadband provider won’t provide me a business connection, and it would be littered with assumptions that don’t apply to me. I’m willing to pay a premium, I know I’m a heavy user.

    However, when we’re talking about 40GB caps, with no pay-go options, this is unusable.

    Comment by Eric Biesterfeld -

  40. Just a link to bolster what Cuban had to say about youtube before Google acquistion…

    Comment by Richard -

  41. The reality is that the Internet has been sold as an all-you-can-eat buffet since its inception and that it will be difficult for the industry to steer customers away from that mentality.

    All it would take is one competitor to either eliminate or raise caps to force others to do the same.

    Of course, that assume equal access and net neutrality.

    Comment by Charles Boyer -

  42. Mark,
    I agree that the “open internet” argument is flawed, but every
    time I hear “pay for bandwidth” it makes me think of the cellphone style plans that the big ISPs are piloting right now in select markets.

    I HATE the idea of having to choose a capped data transmission plan, then paying overage fees for anything above that cap. (I know this wasn’t your proposal, but my fear is that the ISPs will eventually go in this direction if allowed.) I can already see the news headlines for the family that didn’t pay attention, left their wireless network unencrypted, then got a $15,000 internet bill from their ISP for going over their cap.

    Realistically, unless the ISPs overbuild their networks to the point that they can concurrently handle full bandwidth for every customer on the node (not likely), then there will always been a performance impact to the other customers sharing a node with a bandwidth hog… regardless of “free internet”, capped internet, or whatever.

    I think the solution lies in smarter load balancing of the bandwidth between customers. ISPs already have controls in place to limit our bandwidth speeds based on which plan we have, and I’m sure they are also keeping tabs on how much bandwidth we are using. Using that information, you could build a smarter network that determines how much bandwidth to allocate to a given customer, at a given point in time, based on current network load, “plan”, and “bandwidth rating”… regardless of how you
    are using that bandwidth. Bandwidth hogs would be the first users impacted during times of peak network load, moderate bandwidth users would be minimally impacted, while low bandwidth users would be unaffected.

    Comment by Geoffrey -

  43. Bandwidth will be plenty and cheap. Optical networks will provide 1 gigabit per second dedicated in both directions, according to network company Nokia Siemens Networks. Found this interesting clip on their site (about halfway down the page):


    Comment by Mark Z. -

  44. I attended a ‘tech start-up weekend’ – heard 90 one-minute pitches. 80% were ideas around twitter and the iPhone. Not one pitch around cloud computer / or delivery. Thought that was interesting.

    Comment by Nick Fellers -

  45. Hi Mark,

    IT’S HERE… OVER HERE !!! Yeah, over in this small corner of the web!!!

    Just because one hasn’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not there. We have such as a vehicle for many products but there are too many “channels” on the Internet to stand out.

    As I wrote here previously we have already taken “advantage of magnitudes higher of broadband”. But no matter how strong the product is if you don’t have the audience it is difficult, at best, to become mainstream…

    Our experience finds that if you don’t have the audience you can’t get advertising or subscriptions to support further enhancements and if you don’t have the advertising you can’t get an audience (unless it goes “viral”… good luck on that). Same old chicken and egg thing.

    What is one to do?

    We built it but they aren’t coming…

    This also pertains to the “The Great Internet Video Lie”…

    Inadvertently, while trying to come up with a game show simulcast, utilizing our patented advertising mechanism, on both TV and the Internet wherein one could play, either, “live” we came upon a solution to overcome one of the stumbling blocks and what do you know… WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING STREAMIN’!!!!!

    Love your blog… Keep ‘em on their toes!

    Comment by Preston Griffith -

  46. This is the future of the internet:


    Combined with:

    You add the two and internet, and you have a whole new world…I will let your imagination play with all that can be done with that kind of technology.

    Comment by Oytun -

  47. I think the next big revolution in the internet is mainstreamed wireless to every and all applications. We are almost there putting internet to our iphones but the bandwidth is sincerely limited to technology. When there is 10meg wireless available on a portable application anywhere in the world where you can actively stream high quality live video without delay from one person to another we’ve reached a new landmark. A handheld device that can access a home PC and send fluid video and virtually record it to the harddrive of your computer and save complete room on your portable pc/iphone/blackberry. I think highspeed internet will me streamlined to all portable hardware that is “computer like”. Once the internet capacity has exceeded these speeds the hardware will be able to upgrade to keep up with it. A portable application can only interact as much as it’s wireless allows it. The portable technology will scale heavily with new technology and much higher wireless speeds.

    I also predict that diskspace will increasingly become virtually stored on computers outside of our homes and offices. With a simple machine and incredible internet, a datahub will store all of our space and there will most likely be a port technology that would allow the more mediocore of computers to run high end software or games simply by looping back data via the internet. The images will be streamed and the actions of the home computer user will be recieved and transmitted via a usb/firewire whatever tech is available at the time. Granted, this is risky outsourcing all of our data etc. to an external source but it will be pretty incredible.

    From MC> one problem with your wireless scenario. The bandwidth is shared. So if you are streaming video, everyone else loses access to that bandwidth. Which is exactly why most wireless data plans have caps already

    Comment by Eric Sinha -

  48. There is no question that we need caps. The greater good wins this time.

    Comment by Steve in Bloomington -

  49. In my opinion, the next major broadband application may be for advertisers and marketers rather than consumers. Targeted advertisement and ad insertion based upon usage patterns, location, and a user profile created by your ISP and sold to marketers is on the way. It can be embedded in your mobile browser, apps, or even through your TV experience.

    From a consumer perspective – I see a couple of things. First of all, all major broadband growth has to come from the wireless network (3G/UMTS/HSPDA) because of its almost unlimited penetration and unlimited access points. It is much cheaper to add wireless capacity than it is to lay fiber or upgrade existing copper infrastructure. The home network connection, while a necessity for now, won’t matter so much in the future for non-real time applications. Home wire-based connections also continue to erode. Take a look at AT&T or Verizon’s annual report – it will say as much.

    The digital wallet is on the horizon: one device for communication, banking and point of sale. I have even seen a few articles about an iPhone acting as the key to your car. As long as Moore’s law holds true, your cellphone may soon become your ‘netbook’ and connect to the ‘cloud’ for high-end applications. Someone already mentioned dual mode of service (3G/UMTS + WiFI), which would fit into this concept.

    Regarding the subject of bandwidth consumption and bandwidth viruses, I think you would be surprised at the sophistication of existing networks. Most advanced networks have an MPLS or similar core network, with the ability to control packet priority through IEEE 802.1p bits. It is remarkably easy to assign traffic such as p2p video a very low priority or drop it entirely. Dedicated bandwidth on the internet occurs through class of service markings and connection oriented services such as IP-VPN. Anyway, I could ramble on this stuff for hours, but most service providers are really good about policy management and bandwidth control.

    Regarding the subject of TV – IPTV is simply not a sustainable model. Telcos cannot effectively compete with cable companies long term because of the cost to provide VDSL or FTTX and the relative complexity to manage IP video compared to the cable model with authentication at the modem (docsis) or set-top-box. AT&T should be quaking in their boots at the thought of Hulu.com. Consumers continue to demonstrate that they aren’t willing to pay a lot of money for VoD when the same can be gotten for free off of hulu.com.

    Comment by ThirtyK -

  50. Partial problems lie in the technology itself. if users still desire to complete applications or simple commands that are not available what else is available. The other problem is content, there has to be a general amount of interest available for the user to become interested in being online. We won’t see this for probably some time I predict, that is a determinate unforseen.

    Comment by kelle -

  51. Well here’s my prediction on the next big app: the interface between broadband and picocells. Your linksys router will soon become a small 3G cellular base station, and have the ability to share with others. Go to a big city with enough individual participation and you’ll see a cellular “net” similar to current towers, but smaller.

    Comment by Steve Place -

  52. I’m not sure you’re going to see any kind of true bandwidth intensive web-based killer app until you find a way to make a seamless transition between the desktop and the internet. I’m running Windows Vista, which is hypothetically one of the most advanced consumer operating systems available. Yet, my online world is distinct and different from my desktop world.

    I think the first web-based killer app will be some variation of Microsoft Office built for the web. There’s no reason why you couldn’t create a subscription based web application that provides word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and database creation that would encompass a significant majority of the functionality most people would need. It wouldn’t be enterprise class, but it would be a significant improvement over the bloated monster that Office has become.

    Comment by monkeybusinessiu -

  53. The risk of creating a pay per use fee is that it starts to cap the potential for start-up businesses and independent entrepreneurs who are the very people who are trying to develop the next killer app, or other web-based innovation. It could be creating another hurdle for cash-disadvantaged developers, whose only hope for competing with larger companies is the flexibility and relatively small start-up costs of information technology research and development.

    At the risk of sounding too political, this may very well equate to imposing a prohibitive tax on small web-development shops, many of which are being run out of basements and private homes. And if you think that those shops aren’t important contributors, consider where many of our currently successful technology companies started.

    Meanwhile, to indicate that the current use of bandwidth is largely frivolous is to ignore the fact that many of the benefits of increased broadband access and large amounts of available bandwidth allow for unprecedented levels of mass communication and group collaboration through streaming video and audio on projects that you haven’t even heard about yet. Capping bandwidth could, in fact, choke off new levels of collective innovation.

    All that being said, it is important that we find a way to support the ever increasing demands on our insufficient broadband infrastructure. I believe there is some money written into the most recent stimulus package for this. But maybe we should focus a little more on this and a little less on Keynesian ditch digging. Just a thought.

    Comment by Chris -

  54. I still think that HD video online will be the next killer application of superfast broadband. (Disclosure: I founded highdefnow; a High Definition video sharing site). People will want the ability to choose what they want to watch, when they want to watch and they will expect it to look spectacular (In fact perhaps even better than on television since people sit so close to the screen). People, don’t want to be given a relatively small selection on VoD; they will want to see everything the world, both amateur and professional, has to offer. Certainly the technology is there to make this all happen and there are places on the Internet where people have just said “If Big Media doesn’t want to do it, we’ll do it ourselves.” and these ventures have been amazingly successful, though illegal. Big Media needs to start unwinding the “rights model” that it has built up over decades and realise that consumers can’t be force fed content any more. We make the decisions and we’ll stray in and out of your “bubbles” whenever we please. Therefore, a wider range of content needs to be available – if I want to watch Vietnamese films online; someone should be there to provide it.

    Unfortunately usage caps seem to be the way that cable companies are starting to protect their VOD services in my opinion. At least where I live in the UK there is fierce competition between ISPs meaning a siginificant proportion of people can have packages with no usage limits or limits that aren’t enforced; from what I gather in the US, the lack of competition is another factors leading to the introduction of usage caps.

    Also I can’t see these ‘bandwidth viruses’ ever happening. There are insecure machines at colocation centres across the world where Gigabits are available without much difficulty.

    It’s also interesting that you mention people encoding video at ridiculously high bitrates. Eventually people will learn how to encode appropriately – in fact it’s one of the things we’re trying to teach people.

    Comment by Kieran Kunhya -

  55. Why would anyone develop a “broadband only” application. If a provider (Time Warner in my case) decides to half the bandwidth available to me, I will complain about the application not working. An example of this is Netfilx. I do not watch anything streaming from them for a lot of the day, because although I pay Time Warner for 7 Mbps, Much of the time I get under 3 Mbps. There are 5 people who live here, and all have notebook computers.
    Uploading should be throttled, to a point (for home users). This would not be a problem, limit uploading to, say 10 GB a month, you keep one person from over-saturating the pipe.
    We pay our ISP for the service we want. Businesses pay more for dedicated service. What exactly do you think we pay our ISPs for?

    Comment by SuperConfused -

  56. Mark,

    While I have always believed in net neutrality I agree with you that it requires limits. With the continued improvement in broadband bandwidths we’ll see more and more content brought into and out of the home.

    Jeff Morrison, I understand the concern, but not building an application because of bandwidth is the common thought. Now think from the opposite direction…if your application or product is so ground breaking it becomes a necessity users will get the bandwidth to use it. The key is to not just make a bandwidth hungry app to use the pipe, but to make it so feature rich and usable that it needs that extra bandwidth.

    I see the ability to go to CNN(or any other news station) on my TV and watch the live feed or pull up any or all of the segments that I choose right there on demand.

    Refrigs that provide you access to the local markets and gives you instant pricing and stock on whatever you need. Even a 3G approach like the Kindle where your grocery store picks up your wireless tab for accessing their system by closing the sales right then and there at your fridge.

    Those are just some of the end user ways. If you stepped into any corporate office and looked at their systems the opportunities are endless. The efficiency of business in this global economy can improve much more beyond Teleconferencing and VoIP. Imagine building prototypes live on a Surface style PC with your marketers and engineers around the world and all the same time utilizing cloud computing to calculate product wear, and production costs.

    One thing I think that needs to come first is a more widespread secure/encrypted traffic. The net is not always friendly and for something to be truly groundbreaking the user will have to share sensitive data. Encrypting all traffic on the web would increase the overhead, but give many users the confidence to utilize the bandwidth in more groundbreaking ways.

    P.S. Mark you should definitely trade for @the_real_shaq

    Comment by Gary -

  57. If I read the post correctly, the question was about “what’s the Killer App going to be?,” not another meandering comment-fest about bandwidth caps.

    So, what’s the Killer App?

    There are some great ideas, some R&D work underway, and a range of mind-boggling alpha products at the lab stage – but, um, we’re in a blinking-recession/depression and never mind you can’t get money to buy a home, you can’t get money to fund a start-up that REALLY HAS THE POTENTIAL of delivering the Killer App you seek.

    Sure, there are some money folks around, but, they are only funding little instant-gratification enterprises like some new pizza delivery scheme. That’s not a Killer App for Broadband. That’s a diversion and safe position that generates hoopla, and maybe delivers a nice hot pie.

    Sure would be nice if some forward-thinking Investor-types who REALLY wanted to generate a few Killer Apps (or, near-killer) in the new broadband space also created new forward thinking funding mechanisms, understood the need for non-disclosure, and incubated a few dozen prospects. The talent is out there. It’s even in America, despite it’s atrocious education system (elementary/middle/high).

    Comment by mel_vin_101 -

  58. Why aren’t there already “bandwidth viruses”? Suck 2Meg down from a host… I would think there would already be these types of viruses since bandwidth is already a very big issue for most end users, but these viruses don’t exist yet, and I don’t see this becoming a big issue.

    If speeds slow to a crawl, then the ISPs will take the damage, cuz everyone will complain about their speeds and will say “ISP #1” sucks, don’t sign up with them. The solution for this is for ISPs to raise the bandwidth available per customer. It’s currently at about 1:6 but if things get bad they’ll have to cut down on customers per bandwidth available.

    How would it be the death of the movie theater?!? The great thing about a theater is that the majority of people don’t have a setup that can match a theater in quality of the experience. The movie theater is all about the experience, always has been.

    Comment by James Stevens -

  59. The need for speed will change the movie industry. Quick speed means that one day you will not need to go to a movie theater. That will be the next death knell for another industry but also a controlled movie empire were people can watch movies when they want. Leisure will once again be conquered. We will watch what we want when we want. So the next big broadband application has to be movie related, so many companies will grow from it and expand on travel were meetings can be held online with quick imaging. Sports will also generate new revenues through this new form of entertainment. People can create their own TV stations online. This is the future.

    Comment by tone -

  60. Mark,

    As you may know, “Cloud Computing” may increase bandwidth usage as it will try to use unused CPU horsepower across heterogenous environments over the wide area networks acrcoss the globe. IBM is a big proponent of this technology and Sun and Cisco among others are all pushing this technology to increase efficiency of bandwidth and CPU usage within corporate intranets, colo, public internet servers. Happy passover, brother!!! 🙂

    Comment by Mitchell -

  61. I believe, correct me if I’m wrong, that one of the fundamental premises behind the public Internet is the idea that there is no QoS. Other network types exist (i.e. ATM networks) which at their core support the idea of resource allocation and guarantees on service. The burden, from the start, has fallen on the developer to implement there requirements at the application layer; to shift this burden to the lower layers I believe would involve either a radical change in protocol methodologies or a change in network infrastructure or combination of both. I wish you explained why the idea of “open internet” is so flawed, is that from a content provider or end consumer point of view?

    In the example of the kid broadcasting 20mbs, better adoption of broadcast protocols (MMS, UDP, RTP) could alleviate the congestion caused. I think a smarter congestion control methodology needs to be developed and deployed.

    The concept of bandwidth hackers existed ten years ago when groups of .edu connections (10\100Mbps) could slam packets at a cable modem and knock it off line in 30 seconds. Routers ultimately adapted and would simply drop the packets, but obviously hackers will adapt.

    Here you mention paying for more bandwidth, in a previous post you present the idea of ala carte data charges, which when you presented sounded fair. However, I don’t think thats a fair representation, the idea that you don’t want to be paying for bandwidth your not using doesn’t align with the infrastructure.
    Each byte is not as expensive as the next, if the cost of operating the last-hop router to your neighborhood is divided between a thousand people or ten people the cost for sending that byte should be relative. Also, if that last-hop link is 1Gbps and your the only user, you should be able to send 1Gb or 1byte for the same cost. Network congestion should also come into play, sending a byte during peak hours should cost more than off-peak.

    If you do respond don’t tear me a new one, I’m just a 23 year old dork who kind of understands technology and is trying to understand how that translates to business.

    Comment by mgoblue -

  62. It would really require a switch from shared residential bandwidth to the “you buy the pipe, you get to saturate it 24/7” model that business service uses. Of course, no one would want to pay the real cost of the bandwidth they are using.

    Comment by Traveler -

  63. Mark,

    I understand you are a big proponent of pay for what you use broadband. But don’t you see caps as more of a money grab than anything else? I live in Rochester, NY and we have no legitimate competition for high speed internet other than Time Warner.

    However, the cost of entry to the business of providing high-speed internet is so high, that it is virtually impossible for a small company to start up and compete. High speed internet is basically becoming a utility (like electricity or natural gas). We are basically at their mercy on what they want to charge us.

    Basically what I am saying is that caps are just a way for ISP’s to make more money per GB of their bandwidth that is being used by consumers. With legitimate competition consumers could make better choices.

    Comment by Jon -

    • Actually, i see the caps as a way to protect quality of service. 99pct of customers wont notice the cap. However, when one person signicantly exceeds the cap, it can affect the performance of every other user on the same node. Which in turn means 500, 1k whatever the number is of people who are impacted have a bad experience. That bad experience is much more expensive in terms of calls to customer support and bad brand association than the lost of the customer who doesnt like caps. And there are always 3G alternatives, but those have caps as well

      Comment by markcuban -

  64. It seems too risky to develop an application/product that works exclusively for high-speed internet (and not slower speeds).

    Its safer to engineer your product to work in an environment independent of connection speed so that it can work more universally (mobile, desktop, etc).

    Comment by Jeff Morrison -

  65. Broadband adoption still isn’t pervasive in the US, so it’s kind of a “chicken and the egg” type of scenario.

    Comment by Dave Johansen -

  66. Have you seen and/or heard about the OnLive demos?


    I would say that you should think about offering a competitive product via broadband. I could be wrong, but I think this kind of service is the kind in which broadband might be at an advantage at the hardware layer.

    Comment by Michael F. Martin -

  67. Seems like all the action is in narrowband, not broadband. Phones and Netbooks are getting a lot of attention, and a lot of new apps are coming out that are designed for these devices.

    Comment by Bruce McL -

  68. Mark:

    You are right again!

    Most celebrities and pro athletes would agree that the following application is the most addicting thing on the internet and consuming most of their bandwidth and attention:


    I challenge you to see if you can break 150 at Wolf Creek. You will be able to play the US Open on http://www.wgt.com starting on April 13.

    Comment by Vincent Pattavina MD -

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