Finally Feasible

Last week, Canadian cable operator Shaw Communications introduced a new Internet service called High-Speed Nitro in Saskatchewan, offering download speeds up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps), the fastest residential Internet speed in North America. By contrast, Verizon FiOS claims download speeds as high as 50Mbps, but customers typically see speeds in the 10-to-20Mbps range due to various factors such as the distance from your home to a Verizon central office, configuration of your computer, and condition of the wiring inside your home.

Such speed doesn't come cheap. The High-Speed Nitro service costs customers around $250 (Canadian) per month, which is about $200 US as of this writing. Yikes! Of course, all digital advances are expensive at first, but they quickly drop in price as adoption increases.

Of what importance is such high Internet speed to home theater? It hastens the transition from traditional broadcast media, such as over-the-air, cable, and satellite, to IPTV (Internet Protocol Television), which most pundits herald as the Next Big Thing. I've been skeptical about this due to the relatively low speeds of most residential broadband connections, which make it very difficult to stream high-quality video. At 100Mbps, however, that limitation is effectively removed, paving the way for multiple high-def programs to be delivered simultaneously via the Internet. Welcome to the future...