[Save some money, get the basic plan...]
Being an IT guy, every once in a while, someone (in real-life) will come to me and ask which broadband plan should they sign-up for. They bring out the price-plans and start comparing, you know the deal.
My advice is always the same. For the general population, it is this: Bandwidth doesn’t matter. Get the cheapest fibre broadband plan.
Let me explain.
Firstly, the concept of a 500Mbps plan being “faster” than a 100Mbps plan is somewhat flawed. Mbps is not speed, it’s how big your pipe is. Speed is actually latency. For most of us, latency is not that relevant as it is measured in milliseconds. 1ms or say, 200ms, wouldn’t make much difference to most of us (unless you’re a gamer, then it’s a HUGE difference).
So for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that latency/speed is pretty fast as it is. Not much difference. This is when the “thickness” of your pipe comes in. Using an analogy, assume that all cars travel at the same speed. Further assume that the roads are packed with cars. Would more cars come through on a 2-lane road, or a 10-lane road? Obviously the 10-lane road, isn’t it?
The number of lanes, is bandwidth. This is what you’re paying for. And now I will share with you why it doesn’t matter.
I was with one of our local telcos for the longest time. I was with them before fibre broadband arrived, and “upgraded” to their fibre offerings when it became common. My experience on both mediums was the same.
Before fibre broadband, I was on a 10Mbps plan. That translates to roughly 1.25MB/s. When I downloaded files from this one website, my download speed was about 200KB/s, which took up about 16% of my “lanes”.
For the longest time, without any other ISP for comparison, I thought the download speed from this website is maxed out at 200KB/s. One way to get around this and use more of my “lanes” is to use a download manager. The download manager would chop the file into different segments and download multiple segments at the same time, increasing the rate of download. For example, if the download manager downloaded four segments at the same time, I’m effectively downloading the file at 800KB/s.
This worked for a while, until I noticed that multiple connections to the same website seem to be limited. I would download six different files from the same website at the same time, and when I tried to download the seventh file, it simply won’t start. The moment one of the earlier six files is done, the seventh would spring into life.
Again, I thought maybe this was a limit placed by the admin of the website I was downloading from. When I upgraded to fibre, I got the 100Mbps plan and had the exact same experience.
When I moved to my own flat, I subscribed to a non-mainstream ISP. They promised no speed caps and better service. Long story short, that is when I found out the website I’m downloading from in the examples above could sustain downloads at 700KB/s to 1MB/s. Not the paltry 200KB/s I’ve been experiencing all these years. The concurrent download limits? Non-existent.
By now, it’s pretty clear what’s going on. The ISP I was previously with not only capped the individual file download speeds, they also capped the number of concurrent connections.
Unethical? In my book, yes. While I cannot say for sure, I wouldn’t be surprised if all mainstream ISPs deploy similar tactics. So there is really no need to pay more for “thicker pipes” or “additional car-lanes” which you’d have difficulty using. Furthermore, most consumers access the Internet via WiFi in their homes, and the speed of WiFi will usually never be able to allow you to fully consume the bandwidth of your plan anyway. (Of course, there are exceptions, if you know what you’re doing, you can configure your WiFi and your devices to get pretty decent speeds. But if you’re doing that, you clearly wouldn’t need to read this post nor would you benefit from it as you probably already knew all this.)
So no, bandwidth doesn’t matter. If you’re using the mainstream ISPs, anyway. Just go for the cheapest fibre broadband plan.
[Two become one...]
Whenever I go to the movies, I like getting there ahead of time. I like watching the trailers for the upcoming movies, and some of the commercials they show before the movie starts are pretty entertaining. Wong Wai Fai, anyone? *grin*
I caught Avengers 2 with my wife recently. Before the movie started, there was a commercial for Starhub’s home dual broadband service. This offering, I thought, was brilliant, for reasons I will go into later. (This, by the way, is not a sponsored post. I have way too little hits to get sponsored.)
There was a couple next to us. The girlfriend/wife asked the boyfriend/husband why would anyone need two connections. The boyfriend/husband’s response was epic.
“From an engineering perspective, *something I couldn’t catch* is unstable so that’s why they provide two connections. One for back-up.”
I bit my lip. Hard. It was either that or I get up and slap the guy. “From an engineering perspective”, indeed. From your response, you’re clearly not an engineer. If you are, you’re shit.
This offering from Starhub is not because there’s something unstable. This offering, in fact, is absolutely brilliant. Anyone who checks out the information on their website would get an idea why, but I’ll go into more details here.
Most recent BTO flats these days have the same design. I won’t go into the details, and for the rest of this post, I’d assume the reader knows what the design is. Five, four, and even three-room flats all follow the same design somewhat, so all of them suffer from the same problem (three-room flats perhaps to a lesser extent).
Most consumers subscribe to a fibre broadband service for their homes. The ISP will provide a modem and a router that also provides WiFi signals. Sometimes, it’s all all-in-one device. In any case, consumers usually end up placing this device near the circuit-breaker, next to the main door, as that is where the fibre termination point is. Either there, or near the TV, where HDB has kindly provided an extended network connection to from the circuit-breaker/fibre termination point area.
In short, most consumers are using the default equipment provided by their ISP, placed in the living room, for WiFi coverage that’s supposed to cover their whole flat. You don’t really have a choice in this matter, due to the location of the fibre termination point and existing network connection provided by HDB.
Speaking as someone who’s living in one of such flats, I can assure you that the master bedroom, being the furthest from the living room, will have issues with the WiFi coverage. Some people (with networking/IT knowledge) would have anticipated this problem and would have done something about it, but most people don’t fall into this category. The technician from the ISP would have set everything up and the issue only surfaces when the flat owner goes to bed at night and wanted to check their emails one last time.
The problem with the fibre termination point is that there is only one such point in the flat. You can’t really change its location, and it’s not cost-effective and can be ugly to install additional points. It’s usually next to the main door. Starhub’s cable point is different. There is a point in almost every room (including the bomb shelter). You can place their networking equipment practically anywhere you want.
Hence, by hooking up their cable broadband in the master bedroom, your whole flat would be covered nicely, WiFi-wise. And this is perfect for most consumers who basically just need WiFi. This probably won’t work very well for techie people, as these are two separate networks and you can’t share network resources this way. But it works for the mass market.
This is a perfect example of Starhub exploiting its competitive advantage. Something their competitors will not be able to offer, and I think it is absolutely brilliant.
So no, Starhub is not offering this because something is “unstable”.
Broken for now. :( If anyone knows of a good way to display tweets without using Twitter's awful looking widgets, please let me know. Preferably something that allows me to retrieve my tweets in plain-text format.
What's this about?
Anything and everything under the sun. I write about my day, my thoughts, things I see in public, things to get off my chest, or sometimes just some senseless rants that make sense only to me.
30 year old male. Always with too many ideas in his head and too little time. For my 15 minutes of fame, I want to be a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman.
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