Bandwidth, which is measured in bits per second (bps), refers to the speed with which data travels. It is also a measurement of a communication circuits carrying capacity. Over a network connection, bandwidth makes an enormous difference in how much data you can send and receive in a given period in time.

Every since the advent of networked computers, the demand for more and more bandwidth in data communications has always been an issue. This demand for high bandwidth network access, particularly access to the Internet and World Wide Web, will continue to climb even further in the next couple years; driven largely by users who want quick access to the ever growing wealth of Internet information.

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Sooner than later, we will see more and more integration of voice, data, and video through networked computers, televisions, and telephones. Greater bandwidth is needed because end-users are increasingly running new applications with multimedia requirements. These requirements include High Definition imaging, full motion video, and digitized audio. For example, the Buffalo News released a story this past summer about how 20th Century Fox plans to deliver an 80-minute movie, Titan A.E., to an Atlanta movie theatre over a fiber optic network. This will be the first feature film ever downloaded over the Internet and projected in a theatre through a digital projector. This system will most definitely revolutionize our methods of film distribution, just as MP3 file transfers have done for the music industry.

One of the greatest drivers behind the bandwidth and network access push is the rapidly growing demand of Internet commerce, including both business-to-business and business-to-consumer commerce. An ideal example of the potential of this technology is the development of the multimedia applications that are targeted towards service-driven markets. Multimedia Call Centers will soon allow consumers to apply for a car loan, meet with the bank s loan officers, have the loan approved and receive a printed check without ever leaving the car dealership.

In addition to the bandwidth demand for applications that are already in place, unforeseen applications will likely emerge as users take advantage of the new network access and connectivity technologies.