Speed vs. Need
This article was written by Wireless Nation Director, Tom Linn.
I’ve seen a lot of marketing advertisements using FOMO, short for “Fear of Missing Out,” to convince consumers to make purchases regardless of their needs. These advertisements can make us feel like we’re being left behind if we don’t have the products being promoted.
One great example of FOMO is the type of internet access available at your home. Some of us feel like our home is missing something if there’s no fibre internet connection in 2023. This is because we hear day in and day out about the benefits of fibre, such as how it can solve all our slow-speed problems.
There’s no denying that fibre can deliver tremendous download and upload speeds with very little lag time. However, the question is whether fibre is the one and only type of connection that can sufficiently run the internet applications we use daily.
An acquaintance of mine asked me a couple of months ago why his home internet connection was not any faster after installing fibre. He went through a lengthy process to get fibre, assuming it would solve buffering issues on his tablet.
After a brief chat, it became clear that the WiFi router was installed multiple walls away from his TV. Ideally, he needs to move his WiFi router or run data cabling to his TV. If he doesn’t mind spending some money on a solution, purchasing WiFi mesh units such as Plume pods is a fast and convenient option. I must say that mesh WiFi and WiFi extenders are quite different in performance, so don’t go for cheap WiFi extenders.
You can read more about mesh WiFi here.
The above user experience is not uncommon. Many of us don’t really know the speed requirements for typical applications we use online daily. For streaming high-definition videos and TV series on demand using Netflix, or even live TV streaming on TVNZ On Demand, the average download speed of 20-30 Mbps would be more than enough.
In fact, only 5-10 Mbps is required to stream Netflix or TVNZ. Most connection types—4G wireless, regional wireless, VDSL, and Starlink satellite—are all fast enough to stream video.
We have fibre in our apartment, but we opted to use 4G wireless because the modem can be moved freely around the place and it’s fast enough to run all our devices and applications. My partner plays online games regularly in the late evening during internet peak hours, and I’ve never heard any complaints about the speed or quality of the connection.
We occasionally take our 4G modem with us when we travel around New Zealand. Not only is it more secure by not using public WiFi at hotels, we don’t need to mess around with changing WiFi settings in our devices. We turn on the modem, and everything works instantly, just as it does at home.
NZMCA Member Jan shows all her devices connected to the Portable WiFi Modem. The modem requires a 240V or 12-24V power supply to operate.
There are stories of people who moved from fibre to Starlink satellite internet to get better speeds. It’s very likely that their poor fibre experience was caused by WiFi-related issues.
There are cases when customers moved from 4G wireless or regional wireless to Starlink and then moved back because they couldn’t notice any faster speeds, even though the latter costs more. You can read about simple DIY tips to improve your WiFi experience here.
The bottom line is that if you don’t need to be downloading and uploading a very large amount of data frequently for work or playing ultra-high-definition video games, you don’t necessarily need to have fibre. Most of the internet connections available on the market are suitable for browsing, streaming, video calling and all sorts of things.
However, if you do have fibre and are not happy with the speeds, contact your service provider to troubleshoot the issue. If you get nowhere with your service provider, you may consider contacting a more customer-experience-focused internet service provider such as Wireless Nation to get suitable options for your needs.