Are you paying too much for your internet?

How fast do you really need to go?

For some time in London I have been paying a non insubstantial sum every month to have 200meg fibre broadband c/o Virgin Media. Great!!

You’d think so wouldn’t you? Soaring download speeds (albeit still apparently measly but practically irrelevant 10meg upload) so impressive they can run hugely expensive ad campaigns featuring the likes of Usain Bolt and others to remind us just how fast it is. But with ever increasing costs each month, the question is, do we actually need it?

Yep, this is me talking. A person who runs a Cloud based software company…and works from home quite a lot and who uses the internet for far too much of the day.

I mean really? Yes. It’s a question worth asking.

Well, many people will be surprised by the fact that despite all that big broadband capacity (a bit like some 100GB+ data limits on your mobile phone contract) most of the capacity will never, ever be used.

Sure for those of us who in the past have struggled to use (let alone share) iPlayer on a 2meg rural ADSL connection we appreciate the need for decent broadband bandwidth. Think of it as a water pipe — at a constant pressure (akin to the speed of electricity) the bigger the pipe, the more water. More bandwidth, more data = faster internet. All sounds positive but actually how much do you need to do what you do online?

Well here’s a handy guide:

General web surfing, email, social media 1 Mbps
Online gaming 1–3 Mbps
Video conferencing 1–4 Mbps
Standard-definition video streaming 3–4 Mbps
High-definition video streaming 5–8 Mbps
Frequent large file (video) downloading 50 Mbps+

Interesting huh? So at a real high point if there are four people simultaneously watching HD movies on Netflix or similar content that’s about 36meg. So what about the other 164? Pretty much wasted….

As we went in the past from 70 to 100 to 200meg broadband (OK from 10 to 40 made a big difference but there was less “on” the internet back in the day) I certainly recall there being no evident benefit, it just sounded good, felt better…but as for tangible improvement in service / use? No, not really.

Except we’re still paying for it…. #justathought

Check your bills.


By Hugh Scantlebury - Director