Communication Speed in my 57 years


When I was a teen I landed my first amateur radio ticket. WD0FDE. My FCC license to transmit on specific frequencies. The modes I used were phone / talking, CW / Morse code and teletype. Typical transmit speed was about 66 words per minute on the teletype and 10 wpm on the code key. In the 80’s I dabbled in packet radio which operated around 1200 bits per second. Then along came the Internet and ham communications took the back seat to a whole new world. I haven’t had a decent station set up since about 1981. Now I have 10 acres, component 1. Next I need personal time. Different story.

Trying to keep it simple and not confuse bits and bytes, my dial up modem for the Mac was 56k. That gave way to DSL at around 300k. As long as our service provider didn’t bottleneck in high traffic times, this speed was adequate for many years. New software, websites with more images and streaming video kept pushing me to acquire faster Internet speed. Today, in our Mastercraft Building, a building in Omaha that has about 90 suites for rent to entrepreneurs and creatives of all stripes, we have a program in place whereby a local service provider guarantees 1 gig bandwidth up and down speed to each a every tenant in the building for the price of dsl. Why I mention this here is because it’s a topic on everyone’s mind. Almost everyone interfaces with a computer, or wifi, every day. The speed of that connection can be the difference of an instant transfer where the connection was invisible, as in the 1G service, or a foot tapping bottle necked connection that takes forever.

The raw amount of data transferred in a typical minute of online surfing, when compared to my 66 WPM teletype, is staggering. The cost to my data transfer in 1975 was free, less the cost of my station. Today, in relative terms, what you get for your money, 1G (per second!) of bandwidth is almost free. It is nearly impossible to fill up a 1G fiber. Imagine being able to upload or download with no restriction in performance. Unfortunately, the rest of the Internet is not able to handle this speed, yet, so the bottleneck is there, it’s simply down the road.