The Internet is no longer just a service. It’s a utility.
Consumption behaviours have shifted dramatically over just the past two years. The Internet continues to outpace and replace services that previously held their own ground: the landline telephone doesn’t compare to free and clear VoIP calling over the web, many FM radio stations have relocated to a smarter and more efficient web presence, and yet the most impactful shift has been the transition of television entertainment from cable boxes and the TV Guide Channel to Smart TVs and Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD).
Over the past two years, TV content has rooted itself firmly into the web. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Now are located exclusively on the Internet and are easily accessed through tiny Internet based set-top-boxes like Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast. Despite this shift, the actual content being consumed is essentially the same as the content provided by the (now obsolete) cable box. That said, we still demand an uninterrupted experience akin to the instant-on capability of the older technology. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are now forced to accommodate these carried over expectations despite the added complexity of SVOD.
In order for ISPs to succeed, they must be responsive to our needs and accommodate the constant innovation that's inherent to the Internet. Services that are currently offline will continue to move into the online space just like VoIP, FM Radio, and TV entertainment already have. These adaptations will require more data, more speed, and more capabilities, all at a fixed price.
More and more, the Internet has become a precondition for all kinds of consumer goods. As a result, the Internet is moving away from being a product into the space of household utilities and public services, like water or public transit. The market characterises the Internet as a utility by offering goods that require an Internet connection just as they require electricity to operate. The data delivered by your ISP is marked as unlimited, and so manufacturers set the tone for the entire market.
When we expect increased performance, transparency, and expansion at no extra cost, ISPs have little choice other than to become non-profits. It’s now time for the providers themselves to innovate in response to the new web.
Alphabet Inc., Google’s holding company, is actualizing the Internet as a utility with the delivery of Google Fiber. At speeds up to one-gigabyte per second, Fiber injects us with excitement over the future of the Internet while simultaneously satisfying our desires for transparency, speed, and increased capability. Google is charging consumers for the cost of infrastructure, much like a public service. With increased speeds, users are able to adopt new products, behaviours, and explore new capabilities like virtual reality and 4K streaming.
In addition to connectivity, Alphabet will also provide products that fill newly expanded web capabilities and foster the growth of an Internet of Connected Things. For example, Nest (owned by Alphabet) is a home automation product line that lives on the web. Nest currently offers a Wi-Fi connected thermostat, smoke detector, and camera system for your home. These products thrive on sustainable Internet connections; and at one gigabyte per second speeds, Google Fiber has no problem accommodating them. Although we are used to living a connected life through screens (i.e. computers, cell phones, etc), a revolution awaits as we move towards The Internet of Connected Things. The “smart home” movement is closer than ever.
Image source: weheartit
- Article by Veronica Marquez, Lee Fordham, Holly Dellamura and Marion Tanis