The Internet Has Evolved But It is Not Finished

Since its consumer popularity in the 1990s, the internet has revolutionized how we live our lives. We communicate through emails, instant messengers, voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone calls, video chatting, and any number of social media outlets. We collect information from any of the billions of websites available and more are popping up every day.

Whether we’re collecting information for a report or killing time with cat memes, the internet is used for many different purposes. But it wasn’t always the booming information superhighway that we know it to be now.

Funny old internet connection setting
photo credit: Eris Stassi

When computers became affordable for families to own, the days of the internet were strictly dial-up modem connections. The 56 KB connection required your computer to call certain available numbers through a modem and a telephone line so that you could transfer data. It was often a long and tedious process which could easily be disrupted by an incoming phone call or any other interference to the line.

Those days were ruled by internet service providers (ISP) like American Online, Prodigy, Netscape, and Earthlink, who once reigned supreme. It was a race to the customer and everyone wanted to get their software out first. You could probably fill a football stadium with the amount of American Online software discs that ended up in the trash, even though they offered what would’ve then been considered phenomenal deals.

When broadband service came along, most people gave dial up–and it’s notorious modem connectivity sounds–the boot. Even at its inception, broadband offered much higher speeds, starting at 256 KB, a drastic improvement. Broadband offered the ability to constantly stay connected and freed up the telephone line for other uses.

In the beginning, the only service available was DSL (digital subscriber line) and typically came from a telephone line provider like AT&T. Advances in technology and the introduction of cable broadband allowed speeds to quicken as fast as 500 MB. Cable speed internet access can run upwards of $120 per month while the improved VDSL, which runs through fiber optic lines is about half or less. Discounts are often available but the promotion codes are just for new AT&T U-verse users.

Amazingly, the internet isn’t done evolving and neither are the ISPs. Internet speeds continue to grow with broadband providers. As technology improves, internet speeds continue to increase. Internet giant, Google, is taking the first steps to provide fiber-to-the-premises service, which would provide 1 GB service. The service is slowly rolling out, and has been in operation in a few smaller metropolitan areas: Kansas City, Kansas, Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah. Google has already announced plans to expand the service to 34 additional cities but the rest of the country is still waiting.

Internet connections history infographic

The world of ISPs has always been a very competitive market and will continue to be for quite some time. While Google is busy expanding in the US and beyond, other broadband providers are constantly finding ways to increase speeds and reduce costs. The competition is fierce and consumers are reaping all of the benefits.