Much of the attention surrounding faster internet has focused on mobility and the rush for mobile carriers to create 5G networks. Yet connectivity for business and the home is just as crucial, and the cable industry is quick to remind everyone of its own efforts in this area by announcing plans for a 10G (10 gigabits per second) data network.
The 'G' in this term means something different: In mobile, 5G stands for "fifth generation," whereas for cable speeds, it refers to the gigabits per second available.
At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, a coalition of cable industry companies announced plans and the potential benefits to running up internet speeds in the future. NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, CableLabs and Cable Europe joined in the announcement, and Intel is also at work here in developing much of the underlying technology, including network infrastructure and home gateways.
While the major focus of the announcement and accompanying promotion was the connected home, it has important implications for small businesses.
The future is now
Work is already underway to usher in this world of 10G. While speeds 10 times higher than even today's best service sounds like a fanciful endeavor, the cable industry points to the relatively quick availability of gigabit internet speeds. According to the cable coalition promoting 10G, 80 percent of the U.S. now offers 1 gigabit service – a statistic that was only 5 percent in 2016.
In a release, NCTA President and CEO Michael Powell said that 10G speeds are built for the dynamic and continually connected homes, businesses, and other devices that will be a major part of digital life going forward.
"With groundbreaking, scalable capacity and speeds, the 10G platform is the wired network of the future that will power the digital experiences and imaginations of consumers for years to come," he said. "As an industry, we are dedicated to delivering an exceptional national infrastructure that will power digital advancement and propel our innovation economy into the future."
Speed boosts for business
Outside of just being faster, 10G is also designed for the future of how much the internet will connect with everyone's lives. Small businesses rely on internet connectivity for running point-of-sale systems, connecting team members' devices, calling with VoIP and backing up essential company data. Even the most traditional brick-and-mortar store has core functions powered by connectivity. A 10G network has big promises for delivering on all such tasks significantly faster.
For mobile businesses that are location-independent or rely on a distributed team, mobile devices and networks may be the main avenue for internet access. However, for companies with more substantial operations in a business or even a home office, 10G may have a lot to offer.
It's not clear at this time if 10G will mean a massively helpful increase to upload speeds. Powell indicates that higher upload speeds are part of the overall upgrade, although nothing specific was offered.
"At the center of this technology transformation is a new, fully-developed technological standard called 10 Gigabit Full Duplex DOCSIS, or 10g FDX, which makes it possible to deliver multi-gigabit upload and download speeds over the connections already present in hundreds of millions of homes," the release reads.
As more details emerge about 10G, it seems to have strong potential for improving how businesses connect. Companies will need to watch for how costs, speeds and availability determine its future utility.