My mother still uses dial-up.
I mention this because most of us involved with technology are accustomed to a T1 or T2 at work, and cable or DSL at home, and we forget what it's like to use dial-up.
It's like watching a mime. Mildly promising, but ultimately, achingly dull.
If you ever work from home or on the road -- or if you have workers who do -- then you'll want to know about DOCSIS 3.0, a new modem standard that's 25 times faster than high-speed cable. It will allow users to download data at a speed of 150 megabits per second. That means, I can watch Doctor Who online without the current download interruptions that annoy me now. Excellent.
DOCSIS 3.0 is the work of Cable Television Laboratories, which conducts research for the cable industry. The article explains how it works, but right now, the hold-up is the manufacturing of the modems.
The cable industry hopes DOCSIS 3.0 will be able to compete with FiOS, a fiber-optic-based service from Verizon Communications with existing speeds of 50 megabits per second, proven speeds of 150 Mpbs, and no known speed limits.
To give you an idea of how fast DOCSIS 3.0 will be, it downloaded the 2007 Encyclopedia Britannica and Merriam-Webster's visual dictionary in less than four minutes. A standard modem would have taken 3 hours and 12 minutes.
By further comparison, if I downloaded the same content using my mom's dial-up connection, I would need two weeks, 24 pots of coffee, and a bat to keep my father away from the phone.