It figures that some press would get its hands on some PR and spin it way out of proportion. It’s even more disappointing when it comes from well known MIT publication, Technology Review.
The article by Kate Greene, headlines with “Faster than Fiber”. Talk about peaking my attention when it’s my professional realm. So I take a look at Gigabeam’s technology. Not something that is new, but Gigabeam basically uses tight beams of light (instead of radio waves) to run data over point-to-point networks. This basically creates a optical transmission similar to infrared, but on a different frequency. Here’s thePR spin that is so unbecoming of Technology Review. Nothing there says that this optical technology transmits faster than the speed of light (which is what fiber optics does – transfer at the speed of light). Here’s the catch of it all. Gigabeam uses more spectrum than most to transfer its data. What does this mean in regular speak?
If I take a pipe and force water through it, there is only so much water I can force through at a constant pressure. But if I increase the pipe’s diameter, then it accomodates more capacity at the same pressure.
Similarly, this concept is applied to spectrum, as well as fiber optics and every network in existence. Bigger pipe means more data. Well of course it transfers more! I can increase my fiber bundle also! Sheesh. And to top it off, wireless technologies have to deal with external interference such as buildings, trees, rain, etc. The point is: the author of the article spoke to the VP of Marketing who sold a good line. But there wasn’t enough technological background into how the optical technology works. Everyone who has ever taken college physics knows that nothing travels faster than the speed of light (currently). Gigabeam has a great technology, but the headline makes it seem that it’s faster than a wireline technology which is ridiculous. Compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.