The age of gigabit connectivity is dawning and will advance in coming years. The only question is how quickly it might become widespread. A gigabit connection can deliver 1,000 megabits of information per second (Mbps). Globally, cloud service provider Akamai reports that the average global connection speed in quarter one of 2014 was 3.9 Mbps, with South Korea reporting the highest average connection speed, 23.6 Mbps and the US at 10.5 Mbps.1

In some respects, gigabit connectivity is not a new development. The US scientific community has been using hyper-fast networks for several years, changing the pace of data sharing and enabling levels of collaboration in scientific disciplines that were unimaginable a generation ago.

Gigabit speeds for the “average Internet user” are just arriving in select areas of the world. In the US, Google ran a competition in 2010 for communities to pitch themselves for the construction of the first Google Fiber network running at 1 gigabit per second—Internet speeds 50-100 times faster than the majority of Americans now enjoy. Kansas City was chosen among 1,100 entrants and residents are now signing up for the service. The firm has announced plans to build a gigabit network in Austin, Texas, and perhaps 34 other communities.

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