When Does a Technology or a Service Become a Ubiquitous Utility?

I had a thought the other day when I was staring out the window, pondering. I was thinking about the shift of a technology from a developing phase to a ubiquitous phase. At what point does a technology or service just become a basic utility?

This is showing my age a bit, but I remember when PC and home internet was a specs game. People would be focused on “it’s a 200 megahertz!” or “it’s a 28k modem!” 

But nowadays? Am I focused on the tech specs, or on whether, “if one person in the house watches Netflix, and another plays Terraria, will I be able to do a Zoom meeting without my video being choppy?” It’s less about the implementation details and more on the applications. 

I’m sure it’s always been this way. There was probably a time that someone was, “I’ve got electric lights in every room now!” Or, “I upgraded my kitchen hand pump to a faucet that just turns on.” But there’s a perspective now that people expect power and water to “just work”. 

So when are we there with network and computing? It feels like we are already there with compute. It’s more about being able to have the apps and capabilities on demand with the expected performance. Home networking? Sure, it can always be “faster”, but if you are streaming video and playing a video game with low ping, then isn’t it good enough?

(And just to make a point, I authored and published this whole blog post from a mobile device, instead of using my more powerful gaming PC.)

Think about this when working with your customers and clients. Are they early adopters, focused on cutting edge tech specs? Risk-averse industries looking for utility-level services?


Follow on thought: and this makes things like water utility disruption issues more impactful. We expect delivery challenges with emerging products and technologies, but something that we thought was ubiquitous? We are not always prepared to deal with that outage. So has networking really advanced to a utility phase, if we can’t get rely on it to always be available?

**Note: I am mindful and aware that all of this is a biased, first-world privileged view.

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