|July 27, 2007|
Choosing the Right Connection Speed
Jay, a.k.a. “The Cubicle Superhero”, is a self-professed tech junkie with a passion for music and culture Email Jay
A man walks into a doctor's office and says, "Hey doc, it hurts when I do this," as he moves his arm side to side. The doctor looks up and says "Well, don't do that then!"
Theory of Relativity
The bad joke above may not seem relative to the world of broadband Internet connections, but take a closer look. One of the most frequent issues that we see at LiveCoach is a customer complaining of slow connection speeds. Viruses and spyware aside, there are a number of other factors at play in the speed of your Internet connection. The number one defining factor in the choice of an Internet connection speed is what you and your family like to do online.
The key phrase in that last sentence was "family." As intertwined you and your family's lives are, so too are your activities on the Internet.
Let's take a tech savvy family of four. The son is used to the types of connection speeds he has at school, and the daughter is off at college, developing her music and downloading habits on a blazing fast campus network. Try telling them not to download that video from MySpace, like the doctor in the example above!
The Connected Family
Back at home, they've wisely invested in a wireless broadband router to securely and conveniently share a connection throughout the house. Mom is in the home office, emailing the family photos of the new puppy, while she videoconferences with her daughter over Yahoo! Messenger. The youngest son is in the den, rifling through Facebook, and listening to his Rogers Yahoo! LaunchCast stream. He mutes LaunchCast and fires up his QuickTime player to watch the new trailer for the super-secret Cloverfield film.
Dad is on his laptop watching an Argos video feed from Rogers SportsNet. Just as his son's movie trailer begins to buffer, mom decides to send off an email with three large photo attachments. Dad's video feed begins to stutter. Dad loves his Argos. Houston, we have a problem.
I live in a building built in the 1930s, with one fuse for the whole apartment. Believe me, I've got gadgets. These devices need power, and as I fire up the computer(s), PVR, stereo, projector, Air Conditioner, and (eventually) the dishwasher, the meaning of conservation hits home loud and clear. This one fuse setup worked fine for the people living there before me, so what's changed? My (and all of our) appetites for, and expectations of, technology has grown.
The same is true for the Internet. What we expect from an Internet connection has changed. Years ago on dialup we were content to just read the text on a webpage, while the pictures slowly filled the frame. Now we expect the page itself to provide more value, with advanced features like embedded video, interactive menus and maps.
Television, telephones, and the home stereo are converging, in the form of a much more connected home computer.
Movie Buff or Entertainment Nut?
Tying all these features together and having them perform seamlessly takes bandwidth. So you want to look at what your interests are online and choose an Internet speed that works for you. Fetching your email or a webpage causes only a quick traffic spike, as it loads the various aspects of the page. However, buffering or downloading a movie creates a more sustained pull on bandwidth that could affect others in your home. So while users that only browse the Internet may on occasion load a complex page slowly, if it's not frustrating to the user, an Ultra-Lite or Lite package should be fine.
If you don't share your network, you still need to be realistic about how long you're prepared to wait for that video or sound file. Increasing your Internet connection speed decreases your waiting time, increasing the usability, value and enjoyment of your computer. If you feel frustrated with your speed at times, this next paragraph is for you.
Helping you Choose
Rogers has recently doubled the speed of their internet packages and has launched a new webpage that will help you to determine the best site for your needs. Check out http://rogers.com/faster for a sneak peek.
The site has been laid out into six sections: Games, Videos and Movies, Photos, Social sites and tools, music and shopping.
For each Internet feature listed, think about how often you would use the service, and how long you would be willing to wait for it to load. To register your selection, check the small triangle on the red drop-down bar below each section.
As you enter the times for features you tend to use, the section will grey out, and the icon will appear in the listing below. As you enter times, the tool will attempt to choose the right speed based on your responses and display it below. Try increasing or decreasing the time for the features you use most, to see how it affects the recommended speed.
With a little planning, while putting some tough and realistic thought into your subscription choice, your family can get the most out of their Internet experience without raising Dad's blood pressure. Check out the new speed increase page, and see if it's time to move on up to a faster connection for your home.