In modern society it is hard to find home without Internet access. In some countries it is discussed to add access to Internet to basic human rights.
This is not a surprise since more and more tasks are now easier and accessible if we choose to do them over Internet.
If in the past access to Internet has been a problem, now the problem is to choose the right one.
To illustrate advancement in Internet is easier to compare with mobile phones. In the past all phones were heavy and uncomfortable, but now they are slim and light and cost less and less. In the same way few years ago Internet at home was not affordable for everyone and possible only via telephone line modem at low speed and now there are multitude of delivery methods and providers compete to provide better service for lowest price.
Unfortunately, as always when we have a lot of choice it is not always clear what solution will be the best in our case. Here we will try to demystify all the offerings available on the market.
Let’s start from the edge. There are two main methods that providers use to deliver Internet to your home. First and currently most used is over wire and second one is wireless. Often if client density is not high(ex. rural areas) it is not beneficial for the providers to lay cables to each home and there wireless Internet is mostly used. In contrary in high density areas it is more beneficial for the providers to have cable instead of wireless.
Most if not all providers measure the speed in Kb or Mb (b stands for bits). New IEC standard uses B and bit. To demystify this let’s see what this means.
1B (byte) = 8bit (bits)
1Kibit = 1024bit = 128B
1Mbit = 1024Kibit = 1 048 576 bit = 131 072 B = 128KB
What this means is that Internet speed of 256KiBit/s is not 256KB/s, but 31.25KB/s ( 256 000bit/8=32 000 bit=31.25KB). To download 1MB file you will need 32.768s (1024/31.25=32.768). 10MB file will need 327.68s (almost 6min) and for 4GB movie will take a bit more than 36h.
Those calculations are valid if speed remains constant. That is not always the case.
To better connect speed and tasks lets give few examples.
basic web browsing and email – 0.2 Mbit/s
To listen streaming music and moderate downloads – 0.3 Mbit/s
teleconferencing and social networks – 0.5 Mbit/s
if we add video to above – 1Mbit/s
HD video and online gaming – 5Mbit/s
Traffic is the amount of data that are transmitted over your Internet connection. Example for incoming traffic is web pages you download and for outgoing traffic is the email you send.
Have in mind that all traffic is calculated – not just what you see. Your OS security updates, anti virus updates, technical overhead… etc.
Your plan can have traffic limit or be unlimited. Some providers have also soft cap – this means that until you reach a limit you receive maximum speed and if you exceed the limit connection speed is significantly lowered.
In the case where you have unlimited traffic, you are able to use as much as your speed will allow you to transfer. You need to choose the speed that you need.
In case you have limits on the traffic you either pay the amount of traffic you use or you choose predefined amounts and pay for the extra.
The amount you need depends on how you use the Internet. In case you write few emails and visit couple of sites amount is significantly lower than if you watch HD videos and play online games.
Your internet connection stability depends on many factors. All providers work hard to ensure that you have internet connection at all time.
In case of wireless connection coverage is one of main factors that determine how often you will have problems. In case of wired connection is more quality of the infrastructure.
Do not expect miracles – even most reputable companies have incidents. But what differs good from not so good companies is level of support.
The quality and availability of user support are not as evident as speed, traffic or price, but in case of problem having possibility to contact your provider support at any time is really valuable and will spare you a lot of stress. Equally valuable is to receive qualified support – this can make a difference in time you spent to resolve your problem.
More details about connection methods coming soon.