Watching movies with poor internet connections will eventually be a thing of the past. Now that the age of 4G is nearly past, it might come even faster than we ever realized.
The 2020s are going to mark a transition in connectivity for the entire world. Soon, 4G will reach wide swathes of the planet (it’s already doing very well), and 5G is coming just as quickly. With 5G faster than anyone reasonably needs, with satellite internet finally viable and other really cool connectivity methods popping up, the world is going to see a huge boost this decade. In fact, we’ve already seen what widespread fast internet can do just with the explosion in cloud gaming over the last couple years.
So with that in mind, let’s mourn, or say good riddance to, an old foe. Watching movies with poor internet connections. We all love to hate it. And it’s finally going to disappear not too far in the future. It sort of already has.
Think back to 2010. Netflix was getting really, really big; I think my family got Netflix in 2009, and we started streaming once we bought an Xbox 360 that Christmas. Watching TV shows in 360p, having them cut out partway through the film two or three times… It’s anti-nostalgic. Absolutely the worst thing ever. But it was so regular back then that we just grinned and beared it.
Netflix eventually went HD, but there was no point when it’d cause an active internet to stutter and buffer for twice the time. It was a waste of time even compared to driving 10 minutes to the local CVS and renting something from Redbox.
Our internet steadily improved just as regulations tightened, but once I went off to college, it was back to crapsville. Watching a whole movie without any interruptions was unthinkable. Redbox it was for 50% of my movie-watching… But then again, I did watch a lot of TV series on Netflix anyways. And they had fewer and fewer issues as the years marched on.
If you look at my Letterboxd “online problems” tag, you can see how my experience with watching movies with poor internet connections went. When I studied abroad in Nagoya, the crappy wi-fi plus sketchy streaming sites meant plenty of movies had issues so bad I could barely finish them. I don’t miss it a bit.
But then, besides a couple hiccups with my little brother’s Plex server, I haven’t really had any issues since 2017. Movies in 1080p play start to stop just fine, and so do Youtube videos for that matter. Internet speeds and stability in the first world have improved to the point that watching movies with poor internet connections has already become something of a memory.
Today, my home internet is kind of crappy, but not due to the speed, but instead the system itself being set up poorly and requiring pointless regular logins to function. Streaming isn’t an issue here, and hasn’t been for a long time for me.
I’m really looking forward to the 5G era, and especially that tantalizing 6G era off in the next decade. Wireless internet’s already caught up to home speeds in many areas. Home internet at top speeds is well over a gigabit, something my home of Chattanooga pioneered right in 2010. And, by the looks of EPB, 25 gigabits a second is already attainable.
What the heck is the internet going to look like by the end of the 2020s? Will the children born today even comprehend what it was like to use the internet circa 2010 or 2011, at the dawn of smartphones? Or will it look like primitive ancient tech the same way that 80s computing looks to us today?
Either way… if we’re getting to 25 gigabits a second in the very near future, watching movies with poor internet connections will absolutely be a distant memory; even a damn 8K 3D IMAX feature won’t take any time at all to load. And I’m so excited for that future.
I’m excited about the future. Let’s make a better internet for future generations. We can start by ditching recommendation algorithms.