Latency Becoming a Bigger Issue than Speed

Despite the fact that consumer Internet access speeds have increased about two orders of magnitude over the last 15 years or so, how much bandwidth any single user “needs” is less clear, with some studies suggesting that, beyond about 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps, users get negligible incremental value.

Eventually that will change as apps are crafted to take advantage of nearly-universal higher speeds. Still, for the moment, gigabit really is about marketing, not end user requirements.

There is one clear exception: multiple users at a single location. As always has been clear for business Internet access connections, the number of users at any single location makes a huge difference, as it is not the amount of typical bandwidth, but the amount of bandwidth per user, on average, that is key.

Some might still argue that advertised headline speeds are a chimera, but studies by the Federal Communications Commission find claims and peak hour speeds are highly correlated, reaching about 97 percent of advertised speeds during peak hours.

The point is that “gigabit” Internet access is, at the moment, more about marketing than it is actual end user requirements. In fact, end user usage limits might now start to be the key issue, not access speed, for many users.

For many other users, latency likely now is becoming the key issue for gaming, 3D video and even web surfing.
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