The “leap” from dial-up Internet service to broadband in the late 1990s consisted primarily of a 1.5 Megabits per second (Mbps) connection. You could visit a Website or two and even exchange messages to friends on the thin air we called “e-mail.”
Fast forward more than a dozen years to last Friday when the Federal Communications Commission issued the results of its third broadband performance tests, “Measuring Broadband America.” This latest round of tests involving 14 of the nation’s largest Internet Service Providers included measurements of the performance of 50 and 75 Mbps download Internet speeds into the home – and also measured upload speeds nearly 20 times faster than the first bonified broadband speeds.
How did we get from there to here?
Think back to when you got your first smartphone. That was just a few years ago. Google popped up out of nowhere and YouTube quickly became the second most used search engine in the world.
Tablets aren’t just vitamin pills anymore. They are quickly becoming an alternative to both PCs and the set-top box, and if you have a teen or tween at home, you know it’s not cool enough just to have a cell phone; they want to have a tablet, too.
Streaming video services like Redbox Instant by Verizon, Netflix and Hulu were once the vision of “Tomorrowland” at Disney World. Internet-connected TVs were right there with them as once aspirational-only devices.
The “Internet of One” has fast become the “Internet of Things.” Today’s U.S.household has an average of seven Internet-connected devices; by 2016 that number is projected to be at least 11. Multiple devices accessing the broadband connection in the same household, simultaneously, make the experience less like eating one piece of pie and more like serving the whole thing. If there aren’t enough pieces to go around, someone will go hungry.
Robust broadband services like FiOS Quantum, offering 50/25 and 75/35 Mbps service and as high as 300/65 Mbps, coupled with wireless routers, make it possible for that shared data connection to work for everyone – and to work well. And yet, many consumers have not made the mental adjustment to increase the size of the pie.
A new Harris Interactive study of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers found that at least 30 percent of adults polled have done the following:
- Increased the number of connected devices they own (38%)
- Increased the amount of time they spend online at home (35%)
- Increased the amount of movies they watch online at home (30%)
However, the same poll found that while consumers were increasing their devices and usage, only 20% thought their use was outgrowing the speed of the current connection and only 24% felt the need to upgrade. Yet they are experiencing the problems of a household whose devices and usage are outpacing the bandwidth.
In direct relation to the increase in connected device ownership and home broadband use, consumers polled reported the following speed and performance issues:
- Streaming video continuously buffers or pauses (63%)
- File downloads or uploads take too long to complete (47%)
- Downloads, streaming or browsing becomes noticeably slower when multiple devices are connected to home broadband network (42%)
Today, the home Internet connection is more like a dynamic force than a dormant service. We suggest upgrading home Internet service the same way people update their software on their smart phone or buy the latest video gaming console. If consumers want the very best home broadband experience, they should take advantage of service upgrades.
At Verizon, we believe that means ordering FiOS Quantum service. The days of ordering household Internet service and brushing your hands clean for a few years are over. Household capacity and the shared network signal is fast becoming the most important consideration for consumers looking to maximize their Internet experience.