It was a Wednesday morning when I received a call I was eagerly waiting for. I had a great conversation with one of my closest friends. We talked technology, how he was doing, and some of the things he was working on. The call was crystal clear and our conversation ran uninterrupted. Earlier in the week, we exchanged emails and shared pictures via Facebook. We also had the chance to chat live for some time and exchange ideas and news from our respective corners of the world.
The local time in Bagram, Afghanistan was 7pm and my friend, who is now a Major in the US Army, was taking a quick break from his night shift work.
After our conversation and some thought, I realized how far we’ve come - where this type of communication is easily possible now in such remote locations. Only a few years ago, this type of conversation would have been much more difficult to conduct. On top of that, having the ability to chat, Skype and even share content like pictures and videos over such distances are pretty amazing.
Very recently, Cisco took a look at the global average download and upload speed. Here’s what they found:
- The global average fixed download speed is 17.3 Mbps, and the global median fixed download speed is 11.1 Mbps.
- The global average fixed upload speed is 8.8 Mbps, and the global median upload speed is 3.8 Mbps.
- The global average mobile download speed is 6.3 Mbps, and the global median mobile download speed is 4.8 Mbps.
- The global average mobile upload speed is 2.6 Mbps, and the global median mobile upload speed is 1.3 Mbps.
Regional Fixed Download and Upload Speeds
- Average fixed download speeds: Western Europe leads with 20.0 Mbps, and Asia Pacific follows with 18.8 Mbps.
- Average fixed upload speeds: Central and Eastern Europe leads with 12.2 Mbps, and Asia Pacific follows with 12.1 Mbps.
Regional Average Mobile Download and Upload Speeds
- Average mobile download speeds: North America leads with 10.1 Mbps, and Western Europe follows with 9.5 Mbps.
- Average mobile upload speeds: Central and Eastern Europe leads with 4.9 Mbps, and North America follows with 4.3 Mbps.
- Global average fixed latency is 47 ms.
- Asia Pacific leads in average fixed latency with 40 ms, and Western Europe closely follows with 46 ms.
- Global average mobile latency is 198 ms.
- North America leads in average mobile latency with 101 ms, and Western Europe follows with 113 ms.
Take a moment to really understand those numbers. As it stands today, the global median fixed download speed is 11.1 Mbps. Just imagine what this will be a few years from now. This kind of speed, lower latency, and improved mobile communications are creating powerful new collaboration mechanisms.
This kind of evolution is not only helping bridge the gap for many business around the world – it’s also helping bring people closer together.
So, what happened?
- Intelligent WAN Technologies. Site-to-site replication, better connectivity points, and more WAN optimization have all helped to increase our abilities to distribute data. We are now able to control protocols, place emphasis around specific workloads, and better monitor global data distribution at an absolute granular level. Our ability to create dedicated networks spanning the globe has been truly enhanced over the past few years. Now, direct communication links can be set up between globally distributed data centers utilizing high-bandwidth private lines. Furthermore, WANOP has now been virtually abstracted to run as a remote client or even a virtual appliance. Traffic shaping and optimization have reached new levels of control. Our ability to place QoS policies and ensure better traffic flow have truly come a long way.
- Unified Communications and Next-Generation Collaboration. Telephony and general communications has progressed quite a bit. Now, we’re able to deploy IP telephony as well as unified communications tools which allow for high-speed, secure video/voice conferencing all over the world. New types of virtual and physical branch exchanges can be deployed within secured data centers to facilitate an even greater amount of communications capabilities. Our ability to control new kinds of content is enabling an entirely new world around collaboration and communication. We’re securely delivering applications and data to many new devices, including IoE and IoT architectures. Furthermore, there is a lot of new intelligence within our collaboration systems. For example, voice/video/collaboration data can be specifically tied to a WANOP policy which can be easily geo-fenced and device specific. This kind of granularity ensure optimal user experience; in a truly seamless fashion.
- More Bandwidth, More Speed, Less Latency. Now that we have the backbone to support it all – fiber networks have been growing extremely rapidly. This means more bandwidth is becoming available all over the world. Private links between data centers can be setup where massive amounts of uninterrupted bandwidth can be used. Everything from cellular technology to data center connections has become more powerful. Our routing capabilities continue to increase as core Internet data centers adopt technologies which are capable of processing more traffic, faster. Trends show that WAN speed will only continue to improve for both the business and the consumer. Just look at Google Fiber as an example. Our ability to control traffic flowing through the data center is improving as well. Intelligent route, network, and switch platforms control the flow of data. Furthermore, load-balancing helps keep workloads stable and seamlessly passes users to the appropriate data center with the most optimal data repositories. All of this is being done in a more autonomous fashion – optimizing user experiences and enabling for better data center resource control.
- Better Data Center Resources and Cloud Controls. Picking up from the previous point, as the global infrastructure continues to expand, more resources will become available at those sites. This includes locations like where my friend was stationed. High-density equipment has already been deployed onsite where efficient chassis and blade environments are capable of provided large amounts of throughput, resources and computing power. These data centers are then securely connected to other global sites to facilitate communications and data distribution. Through it all – data center and cloud resource control is further enabled by hyperscale technologies, better optimization policies, and of course – virtualization. There is a lot of intelligence being built into both the modern data center and the cloud. Automation and orchestration controls allow administrators to dynamically provision and de-provision resources based on current and future demands. All of this creates better data center economics and improved data delivery.
I listed four examples where technology has played a big role in our ability to utilize everyday communication means to explore the world. Of course, there are so many other tools and solutions which further help us to connect. However, it’s the simple things that we can now use (Facebook, Skype, Gmail) to help us “conquer” distance and bring friends closer together. In today’s world of turmoil and uncertainty, having some small home comforts is truly priceless. For the those that are overseas, being able to take a little piece of home with them allows them to have just that little bit more to look forward to.
There’s no doubt that communications, data center and WAN technologies will continue to evolve. But it’s not just about the business side of things. As technologists, it’s important to remember that we’re not only helping corporations – we’re also helping people.