Friday, June 19, 2015

In Game of Giants, Minnows Proliferate (No Offense to Minnows)

The telecommunications business is full of niche services and service providers, ranging from competitive local exchange carriers that only sell to business customers in some buildings, as well as many hundreds of wireless broadband providers operating largely in rural areas.

Webpass is among the specialized Internet service providers targeting consumers and businesses in some buildings, in a growing number of metro areas.

In Boston, netBlazr is a provider of residential Internet to “select large multi-tenant buildings.” Those sites contain 100 or more dwelling units per building.

Webpass offers business Internet connections from 10 Mbps to 1000 Mbps and residential Internet connections at 100, 200, or 500 Mbps in some buildings in San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Miami, Chicago, and Boston.

Of course, advertised speeds are about marketing more than end user experience, some would argue.

“We aim to provide ample bandwidth for all tasks our users wish to perform, including browsing, voice chat, video chat, and HD streaming video,” netBlazr says. “For the standard plan, we aim for a minimum of 12 Mbps available during all hours.”

That is deemed sufficient for streaming a high definition movie while supporting web browsing as well, says netBlazr. That actually is not unreasonable, in today’s environment.

In specific tests conducted by the Federal Communications Commission to mimic basic web browsing—accessing a series of web pages, but not streaming video or using video chat sites or applications—the total time needed to load a page decreased with higher speeds.

However, the performance benefit diminishes beyond about 10 Mbps, as latency and other factors begin to dominate.

For single users buying speeds faster than 10 Mbps,  consumers are unlikely to experience much if any improvement in basic web browsing from increased speed.

But higher speeds may provide significant advantages in a multi-user household, of course, where a basic rule of thumb is 10 Mbps for each expected concurrent user.

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