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Gigabit Ethernet will bring big speed, smooth streaming and dynamite apps

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Faster Internet speeds will bring a slew of futuristic technology and "killer apps" says a report published by the Pew Research Center.

The report suggests that a number of ideas about futuristic technology will finally be made possible through faster Internet speeds, which should be on hand by the year 2025.

"These ideas aren't new, but they will finally work well enough if given high enough bandwidth," said Marti Hearst, a University of California Berkeley professor. "More interaction will be done with others remotely. For example, your golf lesson could be done with a coach remotely, in real time, while he or she watches your swing at the tee and has you make corrections and adjust your grip."

The report is largely based on what kinds of technology advancements we have seen with faster Internet speeds over the years. For example, dial-up Internet spurred emailing and web surfing into the mainstream, while broadband Internet signaled the age of music and video streaming. Gigabit Ethernet-speed Internet will create a whole new set of possibilities with its ability to provide broadband speeds 50-100 times faster than the current average home connection.

Predictions include holograms and virtual reality as well as more wearables and Internet of Things products.

"Internet-enabled devices that interact with the physical world will be the norm," said Hal Varian, chief economist at Google. "They will learn on their own, with some verbal instruction by their users."

Perhaps the most interesting changes will come in areas like health and education. The report suggests that the line between virtual and real classrooms will continue to be blurred and that students will continue to make use of technology to learn and share with their friends.

"The school day will disaggregate into a number of learning sessions, some at home, some in the neighborhood, some in pairs, some in larger groups, with different kinds of facilitators," said JP Rangaswami, chief scientist for Salesforce.com.

Health care is predicted to be an area of major improvement, with consumers being able to buy health-monitoring systems in the same way that they can currently buy home security systems.

Despite the report, some are suggesting that there is really no telling what kinds of technology we will see in the future. And the faster speeds may increase the digital divide, giving more emphasis to better-connecting areas with poor Internet connectivity.

"Many, starting with Taylor and Licklider in 1968, have been able to see that networked computers would give rise to new communication media. But who could have foreseen YouTube?" said Howard Rheingold, an author and sociologist. "I could not have predicted Google, Facebook, Blogger, or certainly Twitter. So there's no way I can predict what ubiquitous gigabit bandwidth will bring," said journalist, professor and critic Jeff Jarvis. "I only know I want it."

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