GREENSBORO, NC -- Most of us just guessed at the internet speed package we needed in our homes. Tech expert Kent Meeker believes most of us guessed wrong
"A week doesn't go by that someone doesn't ask me about their home internet connection speed. With all of the different Internet Service Providers (ISP's) touting their specials it's not surprising why one would be confused."
For the sake of time, 2WTK focused on the packages offered with the two largest providers in our area: Time Warner Cable and AT&T.
According to the pricing charts, if your only interested in surfing the internet, sending email, using Facebook/Social Media, and downloading/streaming music the smallest plan appears to do the trick. At the other end of the spectrum would be someone who does a lot of online gaming, video chats, and downloading movies.
Kent says, in reality, most of us should have a package somewhere in the middle.
"Sure, on the surface, you might think you could get away with $14 a month for your internet connection because the majority of the people in your household (you assume) only check their email and listen to music. What we tend to forget is HOW many people in your household are doing that simultaneously, how often, and when."
Kent explains how 10 years ago, most families had 1-2 computers in their homes. Now we have iPads, tablets, laptops, computers, game systems, and phones, all using the same internet connection.
"That 2-3MB download speed might be fine for 2 or 3 devices but, when you start adding more and more hardware, things start bogging down very quickly."
Still, $14 isn't much and it sure looks appealing doesn't it? "Might want to check the fine print before making any decisions. That price doesn't include the cost of the modem necessary to deliver an internet connection to your house. And it doesn't stop there, more times than not, you're going to need a wireless router as well. "
At the end of the day, Kent says you'll need to talk to a sales representative. "Just be aware that the majority of us require quite a bit more speed than the lowest package and very few of us require the most expensive package. "
Kent says be realistic when choosing your internet speed. Understand that the speeds they say you'll get aren't guaranteed and, honestly, they fluctuate much more than any of the companies are willing to admit. (Amount of users in your neighborhood online at any given time combined with physical cable.)
Start out with a speed you think you will need and adjust as you see necessary. Be aware that all of your devices can appear to be "slowing down" on the internet when they may require other attention such as: Virus removal, signal interference, internet hardware failure, and sadly poorly designed operating systems and software.
KENT'S EXPERT OPINIONS:
While AT&T is hitting the ground hard with U-verse I still find it to be a huge experiment that still really isn't fleshed out yet. When it works, it's amazing. However, the technical setup is x10 when compared to Time Warner. Time Warner, from the get go, was designed to deliver huge amounts of data over their cable line years ago so we all could watch cable tv. Providing internet bandwidth was a very soft (and logical) transition for them. Originally AT&T was, by and large, a phone company. Normal phone lines couldn't deliver near enough data to supply a home with a video connection. AT&T knew this and began dropping fiber some time ago. They've done an admiral job but so has Time Warner.
Speed = Time Warner Wins
Stability = AT&T Wins (but not by much)
Affordability = Time Warner Wins (Plus, you have a choice of going month to month. Not so with AT&T)
Being "Too Cool For School" = AT&T wins. Their U-verse is amazing and techies everywhere drool over it. (Current audience included)
I don't think people really understand how much their asking of their ISP. We are personally piggybacking a lot of devices and services on that little modem. We want immediate interaction with email, Facebook post, Netflix Stream, and Multiplayer Games.....and we won't take "no" or "slow" for an answer.