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 | 1 min read

The need for speed

By  Regan Hughes,
 3 February 2017


UFB has delivered a step change in network speeds for New Zealand users. I am puzzled by commentators who I hear questioning the need and benefit of speeds like 100Mbps.

They seem to say, ‘the only thing you are enabling is better quality TV for home users and even that doesn’t need more than 10Mbps’. Discussion in Australia is even worse, where there is a debate at the government level on whether fibre to the premises (FTTP) is really required at all. I don’t see a lot of comments about the instantaneous benefit of having a faster connection.

Sure, perhaps the average user isn’t going to push 100Mbps most or even any meaningful fraction of the time. But that’s not the point. The point is not how much data you are accessing. It is how long you have to wait for that data to arrive.  The difference between waiting 5 seconds and 0.5 seconds for something to open or run is huge in terms of a user experience perspective.  It’s a little bit like the jump between using a traditional hard drive and an SSD hard drive.  It may only be a second here, and a second there, but the user experience difference is significant.

Having higher bandwidth also allows all users on your LAN to multi-task without impacting each other – so a group video conference can be going on, while another user is watching a YouTube clip on how to do something important, while another user is seamlessly using Microsoft 365 and uploading a set of diagrams to add to their PowerPoint presentation.  Of course access isn’t the only part of the network, there is also the national and international components of the speed equation that both rely on your service provider having an uncongested, well connected, high speed network themselves.

So yes, maybe speed isn’t absolutely necessary, but living with 100Mbps vs 10Mbps is like the difference between night and day.