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At work, Lisa takes advantage of her employer's dedicated T-3 to quickly access live NASDAQ quotes via a Java applet stock ticker. She spends each day alternating between development work and day trading. Soon to be rich, she dreams of early retirement and a life filled with leisure activities and day trading at home. Back at home her lack of patience and 56K connection make day trading a painfully slow torture. Java and 56K aren't meant to be together.

Unfortunately, most of the 50 million regular Internet users worldwide are ecstatic if they can even achieve 56K. High-speed connectivity is common to businesses but is out of financial reach of the average home-based Internet user. To be successful, consumer-targeted Web sites have to provide content quickly, because consumers won't wait. So while businesses enjoy IP-delivered, feature-rich Java applications and applets, the general public is relegated to HTML and JavaScript Web sites. For Internet development, narrow throughput has resulted in Java's being used only for specialty applets and Web sites that target businesses.

That is soon to change.

The final quarter of 1999 was filled with initial public offerings for Internet infrastructure companies frantically trying to raise huge quantities of money. These companies are scrambling to bring high-speed Internet services to home-based consumers before their competitors do. Tens of billions of dollars are being raised and spent to take advantage of and enhance existing cabling as well as solve "local loop" bottlenecks by laying down high-speed connections from national data backbones to local switches and even to the end users. Medium and small-sized businesses, and even homes, will have fiber optic connections. The frenzy is spreading to Europe, Asia and Latin America.

While AT&T and several competing cable companies intend to deliver cable modem service to more than 10 million Americans by the end of 2000, numerous other companies are using wireless technologies to win the business of those same consumers. Though a latecomer, digital subscriber line (DSL) technology is now growing at nearly the same subscription rate as cable modems because nearly every home in North America is wired for telephone while a large percentage aren't wired for cable. A recent federal law forcing regional phone companies to lease existing phone lines to other DSL providers means DSL availability could soon exceed that of cable modem services. The fierceness of the competition, as well as the vast size of the yet untapped market, mean that reasonably priced high-speed data access should be available to your home by the end of the year, if it isn't already.

With the fatter pipes and much higher consumer access speeds, time-consuming downloads will no longer be a limiting factor to using Java in consumer Web sites. I believe we'll see an incredible transformation of the Web. Highly interactive, rich and full-featured sites will become the norm. Java use will explode.

Sure, the problem remains that not all Internet users will have high-speed Internet access. As with many Web sites that exist today, Web developers will provide both high-featured Java and low-feature HTML/JavaScript versions of their sites. However, affordable ISP costs will result in high-speed access becoming the standard in North America, even for home-based users.

A few years ago it looked as though Java was going to take over the world and fast. But performance problems, particularly due to download times for IP access, made Java use infeasible for broad Internet use. Now it looks like that barrier is being removed and Java will finally become the standard language for Internet development.

Author Bio
John Olson is president of Developower, Inc., a software consulting firm specializing in multitier solutions. A member of JDJ's Editorial Board, John is also editor-in-chief of PowerBuilder Developer's Journal.
He can be reached at: [email protected]


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