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Has Broadband Access Achieved Its Goals?

Has broadband internet access achieved its goals?

If you think back several years, you can easily remember how broadband internet access was touted. The basic idea was that with the increasing rate of transmission offered by broadband access connections, people would become far more productive creatures than they ever had before. They would make massive leaps in research, telecommuting would become an everyday occurence, and the home and workplace would merge forever. Well we've had some time to review. Has this broadband vision become our reality?

While broadband has clearly emerged as the leading product for both home and business users, much of the promise of high speed internet has not yet been realized by the average American consumer. Yes people use broadband access more than ever, but its arguable that productivity has been increased. Certainly people are surfing the internet at speeds of unheard of a mere decade ago, but are they actually getting more done in the final analysis? This question can be answered with a simple "not yet". More people telecommute than ever before, but you'd be kidding yourself if you didn't notice the huge traffic jams that occur in the "Real world" more often than they do in CyberSpace. Most of humanity is still in a 9 to 5 mindset because old habits die hard and people still like to do business in person. As of 2006, telecommuting remains more of a dream than a reality for most people.

When businesses originally pictured a popular internet, they expected applications such as video-conferencing to be the big winners. In reality, no one could have expected the true bandwith hogging applications such as music downloading and file sharing would become as millions of people found the power of peer to peer networking. As the advent of broadband spread, more and more users became increasingly affected with virii and spyware. With broadband and always-on connections, the security risks are truly enormous. More resources than ever are now spent policing the internet of the many foul actions that can only occur because of relatively cheap broadband connections. All forms of spam have been able to proliferate over the relatively generous broadband connections, as tightly monitored bandwith became less of an issue than ever in the past.

Broadband access has delivered on many of its promises. People can now download music and video faster than ever before. Tasks that used to be laborious on a dialup connection are now almost instantaneous on a fast internet connection. Those of us who've been using broadband for awhile should remember what the days of the 2400bps were like. And we should never forget just how slow and frustrating life in the slow lane could be.

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