Friday, 20 February 2009

50Mbps broadband: yay or nay?

I’ve been following the series of Speed Diary posts from Darren Waters on BBC in which he questions the real benefit of having 50Mbps broadband connection in an average household, where you get an adequate performance at a connection speed as low as 3mbps.

Broadband providers are increasingly using the term “high speed” as a strap line to sell broadband packages without really highlighting the benefits for end users, therefore Darren’s attempt to challenge it is a valid one.

So, in order to find out how the experience of using 50Mbps broadband compared with less speedier ASDL connection, Darren performed some of the most bandwidth intensive activities such as video streaming (iPlayer), and online gaming (Xbox), and simultaneous downloads. During the test, he made the following observations, which are interesting:
  1. Having faster broadband doesn’t necessarily improve the speed of your web browsing experience
  2. Accessing the web over wi-fi on a portable device like an iPhone or PSP with a 50Mbps connection seems no different to using an ADSL 6Mbps connection
  3. Speed Tests are useful but no replacement for the actual experience in using a connection

Although I suspect the first two points might have their rightful place in the current market, I believe the quality of high-speed broadband will eventually catch up as the demand for multi-platform, streamlined HD content increases. However, I do agree with the last point that broadband speed alone shouldn’t define the quality of experience of using mega speedy broadband.

Take a few minutes to read Darren’s diary posts as it makes a very interesting read:

Speed Diary: Day One
Speed Diary: Day Two
Speed Diary: Day Three
Speed Diary: Day Four

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