I have been involved in a lot of discussions over the last couple of years about the broadband speeds that most users need in the UK.
This debate was given extra impetus with the Digital Britain report proposal for a universal broadband service at 2Mbps -
To ensure all can access and benefit from the network of today, we confirm our intention to deliver the Universal Service Broadband Commitment at 2Mbps by 2012.
My test for broadband speed is a functional one of whether it meets the reasonable expectations of users for delivering the typical basket of internet services at any particular time.
Today, that means for a UK user that surfing media-rich websites, gaming, and using video services like YouTube, iPlayer and 4OD should all be pleasurable experiences. Over time, the demands will change as more bandwidth-heavy services become available.
The ability of a connection to deliver an acceptable service level depends on a number of factors beyond raw download speed such as latency, DNS lookup, caching etc but speed does still remain an important component.
I realise what a difference speed makes everytime I am away from my home where I have a 14Mbps ADSL2+ connection.
I have just logged on to someone else’s service and thought that it wasn’t working properly as it seemed to take forever to access the normal websites I use like BBC News.
So I ran tested the connection on SpeedTest.net and found that it is running at 4.5Mbps, which happens to be around the typical level for UK ADSL connections according to a recent Ofcom report.
So, this connection is not ‘slow’ but ‘typical’ for the UK market today but still seems slow to me as my level of expectation has been raised by my usual experience.
It seems that speed does now matter to me and there’s probably no going back.