The rise and rise of broadband

Posted on September 27, 2014


[ed’s note: i wrote this at the end of august,  and at the end is an update]

This week I have upgraded my broadband at home,  we now have a massive 150Mb/s connection from our provider.
We upgraded because it was cheaper than my previous 60Mb/s
And I thought I should put that number in context … 
when I started work back in 1987 (yes we had computers and electricity back then) my office had 2 19.6kbit modems to connect into the local University,  and from there connection to the internet.  We used it for email, BBS and file sharing with our colleagues in America.  So my connection is c. 10,000 times greater bandwidth, and much much lower latency too.
Now here’s the really interesting bit, as far as I recall, back in ”87 there were 2 transatlantic lines each hosting 300Mb/s in each direction, so that means my connection at home is 1/4 of the entire transatlantic capacity from c. 25 years ago.  Amazing.

Now it’s not an unreasonable question to ask why we have such a huge firehose into the house,  well we have a lot of connected devices, each wanting their fair share,  that and my teenage daughters watch more TV on their devices than their TV.
We have the following devices that connect at least once a week (I’ll not list all the other older schtuff that gets rarely used)
1 Windows 7 work laptop, 1 windows 8 laptop, 1 macbook, 1 chromebook.
3 ipads, 2 ipods, 4 android phones, 2 apple phones, 1 kindle fire, 1 kindle touch
1 printer
2 TVs, 1 Tivo*, 1 VM box*, 1 Roku and 1 Chromecast, 1 BlueRay player, 1 Hifi/Internet Radio
1 Wii, 2 DSi
1 Wifi range extender

and I don’t think we are a particularly geeky family but that’s, what, 30 devices … 

Ohhh one last thing,  so, of course I disconnected the old broadband router,  then needed to go on line to get my account number,  so I hooked up my Samsung 4G device as a hot spot.  And then I thought why not run a speed test see what I get.
Amazingly this gave me a sustained 28Mb/s download and 12 upload.  It’s amazing because before 4G, I could only get GPRS in our house (still cannot get a 3G signal inside!) and so I have stepped up from 50kbit or so, to 28Mbit.

* uses the docsis cable I believe)

ok so what has it been like for the last month.
Well I had to replace my, admittedly, old wifi router.  The wifi router that came in the VirginMedia box did not seem to be able to cope, many devices would get a connection, but could not hold it for more than a few minutes.  And my old router, could not cope with the number of devices, and could not sustain the throughput.  Had to be rebooted 2 or 3 times per day, just to refresh the DHCP tales.
New router is far smarter anyway and has apps that let me see what is on the network, even when away,  likely there’ll be some hacker exposes a security flaw,  but I have nothing of interest on the home kit, and my work kit is all enrypted.
The throughput on the 150Mb/s seems to sustain in the 10 to 20 range during the day,  which is mostly a limitation of the wider internet.  At non-peak times (eg when I am working past midnight) then I do get 150Mb/s download which is scarily fast. Credit to Virginmedia,  the connection has been rock solid.

Posted in: Uncategorized