From the moment that I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child, a son, I’ve thought of his development in terms of tech. When pregnancy sites described our six-week-old fetus as the size of a “lentil,” I referred to him as the length of an RFID chip. When the doctor said he had reached 1.3 pounds, I told all my friends that my son was the size of an iPad. When he was born this week, he was about the size of an HP Envy 15, though unfortunately his cries did not use Beats Audio.
As my newborn son grows to match the size of a mid-tower desktop, a large-screen TV and eventually a server rack, I can’t help but think about all the gadgets he won’t even remember using that were so important to his dad. I’m not talking about long dead-and-buried technologies such as the VHS recorder or the 35mm camera. Rather, I’m thinking about devices and concepts most of us use today that will fall out of mainstream use so soon that he either won’t remember them, or will only have very hazy memories of having lived with them.
I was surprised when a 23-year-old co-worker told me she didn't remember a time before broadband Internet. At some point, her parents must have had dial-up, but she was so young that she doesn't even remember back that far. Wireless broadband won't dominate the home market until he's 8 to 10, but my son won't remember a world where consumers pay for wired Internet connections.
Even today, 4G LTE provides comparable download speeds and better upload speeds than cable Internet, but the cost of using mobile broadband all the time is prohibitive. At some point in the next few years, broadband providers are going to realize that giving everyone home antennas is more scalable than wiring and maintaining each street's network of fiber-optic cables. At that point, the paradigm will shift and it will be cheaper to purchase wireless than wired Internet. Clear already offers a 4G WiMax home Internet hub with unlimited service, though it's not fast enough to compete with cable Internet.
Read more: Nationwide 4G Showdown
Online Editorial Director Avram Piltch oversees the production and infrastructure of LAPTOP’s web site. With a reputation as the staff’s biggest geek, he has also helped develop a number of LAPTOP’s custom tests, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. Catch the Geek’s Geek column here every other week or follow Avram on twitter.