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Broadband Bringing Home the Bits
multiple peaks that may well correspond to, or catalyze, application and infrastructure deployment milestones.
Today’s residential broadband capabilities, which are typified by several hundred kilobits per second to several megabits per second downstream and several hundreds of kilobits per second upstream, support such applications as Web browsing, e-mail, messaging, games, and audio download and streaming. These are possible with dial-up, but their performance and convenience are significantly improved with broadband. At downstream speeds of several tens of megabits per second, new applications are enabled, including streaming of high-quality video, such as MPEG-2 (a standard defined by the Moving Picture Experts Group) or high-definition television (HDTV), download of full-length (70- to 90-minute) audiovisual files in tens of minutes rather than hours, and rapid download of other large data files. Reaching this plateau would enable true television-personal computing convergence. With comparable upstream speeds, computer-mediated multimedia communications become possible, including distance education, telecommuting, and so forth. With FTTH, a new performance plateau with gigabit speeds both up- and downstream would be reached. The applications that would take full advantage of this capacity remain to be seen.