Year of the Terabyte

3:40 PM -- This was a landmark year in consumer storage and computing. And though we don't cover the space directly, we'd be remiss in not acknowledging its impact on the bandwidth and network needs facing service providers.

Here are two things that I recall being big, big deals in the consumer space this year:

1) The first sub-$1,000 terabyte external hard drive debuted. Prediction: In less than five years, we'll pay about $750 for a 100 terabyte drive -- and that still won't be enough to keep all the home videos, archived home security footage, photos, music, and movies we've downloaded.

2) Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music store celebrated its first year in business in April. Apple boasted that 70 million songs had been downloaded at that point. Now the number is well north of 200 million.

Prediction: Apple will debut an iMovies-type site next year, and users will buy and download 10 million feature-length movies during the site's first 12 months of operation.

Of course, this rampant downloading will mostly come from folks with fiber access or cable connections. A full DVD of video content (4.7 gigabytes) still takes about 3 hours, 45 minutes using a 3-Mbit/s connection.

However, on a 9-Mbit/s or 10-Mbit/s connection, DVD-sized downloads would be tolerable.

Note to Charter Communications: Call me when that kind of an upgrade is available.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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