Living up to the promise will be much easier than getting Windows 98 to ship on time. The infrastructure will cost much less than was previously thought, plus the plan to produce modems that connect at a screamingly high 1.5 million bits per second is actually modest by DSL standards. The makers of the technology believe it can squeeze as much as 8 million bits out of a copper phone wire — perhaps more. "It's the great bandwith horizon," says Ramo. "You never get any closer to the edge."
When the Internet-powers-that-be work alone, however, the results are more dubious. Witness Intel's unveiling Tuesday of Quick Web technology, which will do little more than double the download of a 28.8 modem, while delivering clunky graphics and cached pages. Most surfers would likely prefer to wait for the wintel-Bell cartel to deliver. Next problem: how to handle traffic when everyone and their grandmother is sucking down a million bits a second.