Must… Have… More… Bandwidth
from the more-more-more dept
US broadband providers are in the midst of a speed boost, offering new, higher tiers of speeds — even as high as 50 Mbps — and demanding higher prices. As Om Malik points out, it’s all about the money: increasing the bandwidth to customers doesn’t cost these companies all that much, but it’s something for which they can charge a lot more. The rub, though, is that people with these faster connections don’t necessarily use the net more — an experience confirmed by high-speed networks in Japan that have seen only a modest increase in overall traffic following speed raises. Why? For one thing, people are settling down in how they use the internet, gravitating towards some key activities for which having a faster line doesn’t necessarily dictate increased usage — like IM and email. Also, regardless of how much time it takes to download something like a movie or song, it takes the same amount of time to play it back. So because you can download a movie in about 10 minutes on a 30-megabit line, it still takes 2 hours to watch — so users’ appetite for media consumption may not scale with the speed of their connection. The other side of the bandwidth boost wonders just how much people really notice these higher speeds, particularly in normal Web surfing. Probably not much, really, once they get past a certain point. But, as Om again notes, people perceive that they’re getting faster speeds and a better experience, and they’ll pay for it.