Upload, Download, Reload?
What to consider when picking an internet connection.
When it comes to picking a new internet service there can be a lot to consider, especially when picking a provider and service plan for your business. Terminology and agreements can be difficult to understand as well as costly. The requirements of your business should drive your decision – but what happens if you don’t know what your business needs?
We have a look at a few common terms and pointers for picking the right provider.
A few quick Terms
Download: The process of transferring a file from ‘the internet’ to one’s device. I.e Download a File or Watch a YouTube video.
Upload: The process of transferring a file to ‘the internet’ or server, i.e uploading a YouTube Video to YouTube.
Speed (Bandwidth): Think of the Bandwidth as a highway – it can only have so many lanes, more lanes mean more traffic can be channelled through the highway at the same time. Bandwidth is often the figure used by the internet providers, to promote their service. They will use terms like 100 Mbsp download – which actually refers to the potential download, not the rate you will receive.
Reliability: refers to the consistency in which download/upload speeds are maintained over time as well as any performance issues relevant to external factors – I.e. storms.
Latency: latency refers to the time it takes for a packet of data to be sent and received across a network (or the internet). For the importance of latency and its relation to bandwidth, check out this article at http://www.speedtest.net/articles/what-is-ping-what-is-latency/
What are the different internet connection line types?
From Cable to NBN to ADSL2, knowing what does what can be hard for the lay person to understand. Basically, the two biggest differentiators between the various line types is the medium data is transferred through and the maximum speeds that can be achieved from each type. (From a technical perspective there are important considerations between the various types, but to keep it simple we are focussed on the medium and its correlation to speed and reliability).
ADSL: ADSL refers to internet through the traditional copper telephone system. In order to achieve this, a signal is sent via a frequency that is not used for voice calls. At the receiving end of the line, a filter is required to split the signal between internet and voice calls.
Cable: Cable is the delivery of the internet via the same coaxial cable used by pay television providers.
Fibre: Fibre refers to a special line, that uses glass as a conductor of light to transfer data.
What’s the difference?
The biggest thing most people are concerned with is bandwidth or download. When considering the maximum bandwidth of each, ADSL can reach around 3-20 Mbps, Cable can achieve 20-100 Mbps and Fibre can achieve anywhere from 12-100 Mbps.
Importantly though, download speed is just a starting point and there are many factors that will slow down your internet download. For example, ADSL has a slower starting point, with a maximum potential of 20 Mbps, whereas as Cable has a maximum potential of 100 Mbps. However, cable is a shared line, whereas ADSL is a dedicated line, meaning a faster Cable line can become congested during peak times.
The other thing to consider, especially for business, is upload speed. Often as residential consumers we do not give upload speed much thought, as we are usually downloading files from the internet, i.e. videos, music or pictures. But when we go to upload something – such as a video to Youtube, it can take a very long time.
When compared to Cable, Fibre can offer similar download speeds, but superior upload speeds – which can be a huge benefit to data intensive businesses.
What else impacts the speed of my Internet?
While your line choice is important, it is only a starting point. There are many factors that impact the speed in which you can transfer data from the internet. Things such as congestion can slow down your downloads. Overseas content can be slower to download than locally sourced content. The source of your content also impacts the rate in which you receive it. Even weather events, such as extreme heat or rain, can impact your wired connection.
So which option is best: ADSL, Cable or Fibre?
In simplest terms, Fibre is the superior technology, followed by Cable, followed by ADSL. Fibre has the best bandwidth and can be more reliable. ADSL may be slower, but may be sufficient at home, if you are using your internet connection for social media, emails, videos and music. But if you’re running a business, you will want to avoid data ‘bottlenecks’. Waiting for data to transfer can be time consuming and costly, and there may be technology available to solve these problems.
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