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Frequently Asked Questions
Bandwidth and internet speed are two terms that are often interchanged, however they are two different things
- Bandwidth – The measurement of how much data can be uploaded or downloaded over a given amount of time.
- Internet Speed – The measurement of how fast your data can be uploaded or downloaded.
- Think of it this way, bandwidth is the total number of miles you can run at one time, while internet speed is how fast you are able to run those miles.
Average at-home internet usage tends to rely more on download speed than upload speed. Streaming, gaming, email and internet browsing are all activities that are pulling data in, as opposed to sending data out. Upload Mbps (megabits per second) tend to be the lower number, whereas download Mbps are higher (most often double – sometimes triple – digits, depending on how many devices and users in your household).
Short Answer: It depends.
Longer Answer: It depends and is different for every user or household. The amount of data used by the average broadband user has been doubling roughly every three years since the advent of the Internet. Consider the following numbers from OpenVault showing the average monthly U.S. household broadband usage: Q1 2018 – 215 Gigabytes vs. Q1 2021 – 462 Gigabytes
What does this tell us? Average household usage more than doubled in the three years from 2018 to 2021. The growth happened at a compounded growth rate of 29% annually. That’s a little faster than the more recent past, probably due to the pandemic, but in the decade before the pandemic, the compounded annual growth rate was around 26%. If this growth rate carries into the future that means in twenty years networks will be carrying one hundred times more traffic than today.
Symmetry? Because real-world users are often in households with multiple internet users and needing performative upload and download speeds for video conferencing and online education, symmetry is a way to ensure that work from home is productive. Upload speed, although not always advertised or focused on, is crucial in sending and sharing files across networks.
The most common cause has to do with the amount of traffic (number of current users) on the internet. In the morning there are fewer people online. As the day goes by businesses and other users are becoming more active and the amount of internet traffic increases. This is due to the oversubscription ratio used in designing your network by your internet service provider(ISP).
Oversubscription is a common practice whereby ISPs sell more capacity to its network users than is available on the network at any given time. This is a common practice because in the past it was extremely uncommon for all of a network’s users to be using that network at the same time. Since the beginning of 2020 these assumptions have been seriously challenged with the prevalence of remote learning and work. Broadband networks must adapt and reduce their oversubscription ratios (or increase their network capacity) to account for more day time usage as people continue to work and learn from home.
Another measure that can help paint the picture of how fast your internet speed will be. Latency is the amount of time it takes for data to transfer from one source to another, and can vary depending on your internet provider and broadband technologies. High latency (more than 100ms) can slow down things like gaming or video conferencing, as it indicates slower transfer times, and can exist even with sufficient upload / download speeds. Satellite internet services are a prime example of this – great throughput, but latency can be over 250ms at times.
Jitter is when there is a time delay in the sending of these data packets over your network connection. This is often caused by network congestion, and sometimes route changes.
See here for more details https://www.ringcentral.com/us/en/blog/what-is-jitter/
Less than you might think. If your connection is in the 10×2 (DLxUL) range you should be able to effectively use video conferencing tools.
4k requires +25 Mbps DL speeds while regular HD streaming is much more economical at 7-10 Mbps.
Less than you might think. Many claim that users really only need 3-5 Mbps DL speeds to effectively play modern video games. While we would disagree and state that higher speeds do tend to increase enjoyment of web-based gaming, a user does not need +100 Mbps download speeds to play games effectively. But keep in mind that no amount of speed is going to stop your game from lagging if your latency ranges into hundreds of milliseconds. There’s a lot more to a good internet connection than just a fast download speed.
The term “5G” refers to the fifth generation mobile network which started to be introduced over the last couple years. 5G mobile networks promise to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users.
For reference –
- 1G, the first generation of telecom networks (1979), let us talk to each other and be mobile
- 2G digital networks (1991) let us send messages and travel (with roaming services)
- 3G (1998) brought a better mobile internet experience (with limited success)
- 3.5G brought a truly mobile internet experience, unleashing the mobile apps ecosystem
- 4G (2008) networks brought all-IP services (Voice and Data), a fast broadband internet experience, with unified networks architectures and protocols
- 4G LTE ( for Long Term Evolution), starting in 2009, doubled data speeds
- 5G networks expand broadband wireless services beyond mobile internet to IoT and critical communications segments
5G home internet, on the other hand, is a type of fixed wireless internet service, which means that the connection between your provider and your home is a wireless one. In theory, 5G should enable a speedy connection that will match or better what you get with fiber internet. But when it comes to the reality of 5G home internet, that’s simply not the case. To increase the reliability and coverage of the 5G internet service, most providers rely on a mix of millimeter-wave, low-band and mid-band technology — as well as 4G LTE in some cases — and this means home internet customers won’t see the real high-end capabilities of 5G at present.