Where has all the speed lust gone?

When I was in Japan, I set my father-in-law up with an Internet connection. He’d been given some brochures about NTT broadband from his local electrical store. The pricing was just jaw-dropping: a 100Mbit (yes, one hundred megabit) connection, with no usage capping, is £24 a month. Holy cow!

This got me thinking. Here in the UK, ADSL users have been getting letters from their ISPs to tell them that they’ll be getting a free (or free-with-string-attached) speed hike following BT’s announcement of capacity upgrades earlier this year. In about 10-12 months time, most users will be on 2Mbit connections or more, up to a maximum of 8Mbit on the newer exchanges. It also seems that most ISP’s will be doing capping deals rather than throttling, so in effect you can “burst” up to the maximum of your exchange capacity no matter what your cap is. At least I think that’s right, unless you’re with AOL, in which case… You’re just stupid.

So what’s missing here is the speed lust. A few years ago, hardly a day went by without somebody predicting a multi-media revolution just as soon as we all got out of the 14.4K (or 28.8K or 64K or 512K…) straightjacket. But I’ve not seen any pundits come out on this one yet, despite 2Mb being the generally-accepted point at which decent video is possible.

So wither the multi-media future? Maybe it’ll really happen this time now that nobody’s bothered?