In the late 1990s, the new age of the Internet began. Futuristic acronyms entered our lexicon—HTML and URL—and we witnessed the first incarnation of the World Wide Web. Not yet household names, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, and Internet Explorer launched, and the creation of Windows 95 made way for the personal computing revolution. What an amazing time it was!
In 1996 the Telecom Act—meant to increase competition, decrease regulations, and rapidly deploy cutting edge telecommunications technologies—marked the first overhaul of telecommunications law in the US in more than 60 years. Seemingly overnight, dozens of competitive local exchange companies popped up, ready to deliver on the promise of lower priced / higher quality phone, cable, and Internet connectivity options. These companies quickly got to work building unprecedented network infrastructure to supply the connectivity to provide the best options for consumers.
Evidence of this infrastructure continues to exist today, and you don’t have to go far to find it. About three to four feet below where you are standing, or fifteen feet or so above your head, you might find fiber optic cables that are part of the systems built twenty plus years ago, long before the term “metaverse” was coined.
The fiber infrastructure deployed in the 1990s and early 2000s has limited purpose in tackling the needs of today’s, let along tomorrow’s, data-driven market. With the rise in Internet of Things (IoT) devices, increasing dependence on the cloud, and continued prevalence of the high-speed Internet connection necessary to operate today, it is clear the path ahead for telecommunications networks depends on new fiber optic infrastructure, particularly to support the volumes of data we consume and applications we rely upon for day-to-day activities.