From the moment the first phone-line modems squawked to life, connecting consumers to early Internet service providers two decades ago, there has been a nearly universal quest for more plentiful and speedier data pipes into the home.
Yet even now that those pipes are arriving, the race to provide even bigger ones is intensifying among telecom and cable TV companies, as well as wireless network operators.
In Millis, Mass., freelance writer Michael Fitzgerald recently boosted the speed with which he can reach the Internet by subscribing to Verizon’s (VZ) new FiOS broadband service. FiOS delivers a super-fast connection by replacing the old copper phone line to each home with a fiber-optic cable, offering Internet downloads as fast as 30 megabits per second, vs. the 1Mbps to 6Mbps of the typical cable or DSL broadband line. “I was intrigued by the service when I first heard about it,” says Fitzgerald. While he may not fully exploit his new firepower with any regularity, Fitzgerald is one of about 864,000 FiOS broadband subscribers. “Over the long term, I think there will be benefits that I can’t even begin to imagine yet.”