Why does superfast broadband matter?

Technology Blogger has had many articles about broadband speeds, superfast internet connections, and how the general trend is that global internet speeds are on the rise, but the question is, why is that important? Why do superfast speeds matter?

Download and Upload

There are two types of internet speed, your download speed, and your upload speed. Your download speed is how fast you can receive data from the internet – how fast you can stream media, receive emails, load websites etc. Your upload speed refers to how fast you can send information to the internet – how fast you can send emails, upload media, update your status etc.

When people talk about broadband speeds on the rise, they are usually referring to download speeds, as most of us get a lot more from the internet than we upload. Both upload and download speeds are on the rise, but upload speeds are usually only around 10% of download speeds – depending upon your location.

So superfast broadband means that we can do things faster, we can download and upload content quicker than we used to be able to. But that does that mean?

More Going On

Faster internet speeds mean that you can be doing more things at once on the internet, with less lag or jitter. You can be on an online game, whilst streaming the radio, and in the background sending emails, all at the same time! You can have more internet hungry applications running at the same time, and the speed of your activities (providing you have adequate processing power) should be the same as if you just had one activity going on.

Improved Internet Call Quality

Faster internet speeds will allow for smother internet calling, with less lag and better quality. You will be able to chat with friend across the globe and stage a conversation as though they were there in the room with you. VoIP will be significantly improved, as faster speeds meant that the media you are sending out is of higher quality, and the stream you are receiving is better too.

Such improvements could significantly benefit businesses, as VoIP can significantly lower the cost of holding meetings with fellow colleges based in different locations, thanks to better, more affordable online conference calling.

Furthermore, improvements in internet call quality can make remote working more viable, meaning that employees can spend more time working and less time commuting, thanks to them being connected all the time. This can save time, money and office space, as more employees are able to work off-site.

Improvements in Healthcare and Education

As Rashed suggested in his recent article (Five changes in video conferencing for the next decade) improvements in internet calls could lead to an improvement in the provision of telemedicine, meaning that the best doctors can help patients from across the world.

There is also similar potential for education. The best lecturers and teachers will be able to educate far greater numbers of individuals from across the world, thanks to faster broadband speeds. Improvements in such technology could be very beneficial for those living in isolated communities.

Cloud Computing Becomes More Viable

Cloud computing has huge potential to cut costs, improve efficiency and improve data security, and superfast broadband makes it more viable! With faster broadband, more and bigger files can be stored in the cloud, meaning that files are less likely to be lost if one device fails, and are more likely to be accessible from any location.

Media Streaming

Streaming media from across the internet is smother, faster and more seamless with faster internet connections. You can watch online videos with less buffering, or even in high definition.

Furthermore, internet TV and other similar services become more viable than ever before. In the last quarter of 2011, Virgin Media reported profits of £48 million, which it is believed is mainly down to faster broadband speeds encouraging more users to user its TV and internet services.

Virgin Media's logo

More People Online

Every day thousands of new people around the world make the leap and go online. For every extra person on the internet demanding resources, the whole system slows down a little. However with superfast broadband, more people can be online with less of an effect on speeds. In large offices, more employees can be connected, with less of an effect on the speeds received. This is also true in households, more people can be downloading media, whilst it not affecting others on online games.

Your Speed

Superfast broadband is very important and is revolutionising the way we do business and live our lives. The question is, how fast is your broadband speed? Are you likely to benefit from the things I mentioned above, or do you need to think about switching provider? Try testing your broadband speed and comparing it to what you are paying for; could you be getting a better deal elsewhere?

Broadband speeds – are you getting what you pay for?

The comparison site uSwitch recently did a study into UK broadband speeds, and found that during peak times, internet speeds were on average 35% lower, than in off peak times.

The research was based on two million download tests, concluded that during peak surfing times, which are between 7 and 9 in the evening, speeds were the slowest than at any other time of the day. If you want super fast speeds, it is recommended that you go on between 2 and 3 in the morning.

The time differences were more/less extreme, depending on the region of the country. The average broadband speed in the UK is 6.2mbps at peak times and 9.6mbps in the early hours of the morning. However, this is much more extreme for some regions. For example, the difference in Weston-super-Mare was 64%! At off-peak speeds were around 9.5mbps, whilst at peak times they were just 3.4mbps, a massive difference.

Wadebridge, (Cornwall) saw a 48% difference in speeds, with an average of 4.1mbps at off-peak times and just 2.1mbps during peak times.

Broadband is becoming ever more important in our digital, globalised world, and such variation is seen as unacceptable by many in modern times. Broadband is very important for business, as well as luxuries, such as on-demand TV, and even potentially internet TVs.

Global broadband connections map

A connected world - super fast broadband, brought about by fiber optic connections has revolutionised telecommunications

Ofcom says that on average, UK consumers download around 17 gigabytes of data every month using their home connection. That is a fair amount, and to put the speed differences into context, were this all to be downloaded at off-peak times in Weston-super-Mare, it would take around 4 hours to download that data at off peak times, however it would take around 13 hours to download at peak times, a staggering difference!

Critics have said that consumers are being misled by the maximum speeds that internet service provides love to advertise, even though it is rare that anyone should ever get them. Because of this, as of April 2012, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) will no longer allow firms to advertise maximum speeds unless at lease 10% of their users receive them.

For more information check out this article: Broadband speeds fall 35% at peak times.

This article is about the UK, but I am sure that it is the same all over the world.

What do you think, is this fair, or are we, the consumer, getting ripped off?

If Velcro wasn’t a rip off, broadband certainly is! Sorry, I couldn’t help it 😉