Until recently, America’s major telecommunications firms always had plans on the drawing board for the next generation of internet connectivity. In the 1990s, when most people connected to the internet using modems with speeds of 56kbps or slower, phone and cable incumbents were working on cable and DSL services that would offer connectivity measured in megabits, Ars Technica reports.
As households upgraded to those first-generation broadband services during the aughts, incumbents were hard at work on technologies like FiOS, U-Verse, and DOCSIS 3.0 that would offer broadband connections in the tens of megabits.
But now, for the first time since the dawn of the commercial internet, there are few plans in the works for major network upgrades. Most American households have no reason to expect that they’ll see another order-of-magnitude increase in broadband speeds any time soon.
One man who is trying to change that is Blair Levin, an architect of the Obama Administration’s National Broadband Plan and now the executive director of a consortium of universities called Gig.U. Levin hopes to demonstrate the potential of high-speed internet service by promoting the construction of privately financed fiber networks in American college towns.