Tuesday, May 16, 2023
When I discovered my very first MMORPG, Ultima Online, in the 90's, I was still on a dial-up internet connection. That not only was very slow, but also pay-per-minute. So my first foray into MMORPGs ended after a month, when I received a $500 telephone bill. I restarted online games a few years later, when I got my first unmetered DSL connection. It also was much faster, at 6 Mbit/s. DSL works over the copper telephone line, and over the years the technology improved, without changing that line. In 2010 I went from ADSL to VDSL, which at first had about 20 Mbit/s speed. And with subsequent updates the speed went up further, to now about 70 Mbit/s.
As I mentioned before, I am currently building a new house. Moving away from the city to a more rural area has certain advantages, but of course internet speed was a worry. In most places in the world, rural internet is a lot slower than urban. But it turned out that in this case the opposite was true: My new house is on a new street, so they had to build new infrastructure for electricity, water, gas, and internet/telephone. And because Belgium is currently starting to roll out fiber optics, they didn't even bother to lay the old copper cables for telephone and internet in the new street. They went directly for fiber optics.
Yesterday the cable guy installed the fiber optics internet connection to the new house. So I was able to test it, and got a whopping 700 Mbit/s internet speed for downloads, 200 Mbit/s upload. Actually measured, not theoretical (in theory this is a 1 GBit/s connection). And that was over WiFi! The only problem is that I have 700 Mbit/s in the garage, the speed drops to 50 Mbit/s in the living room, and there is no signal at all on the first floor. I built a low energy house with great thermal insulation, but that also stops electromagnetic waves to some extent. Fortunately I had thought ahead, and all the rooms in which I am most likely to use internet come with Ethernet ports, which are connected to the router in the garage. And I already have a Technicolor OWA0130 WiFi Booster, which can be plugged into one of those Ethernet ports. So I am hopeful that I will be able to have both plugged-in internet devices like TVs and computers, as well as fast WiFi internet everywhere in my house.
Note that 700 Mbit/s is nearly 90 MByte/s, but you can only achieve such download speeds if the server on the other side is actually providing data at that speed. I've read that Steam is not providing data faster than 60 MByte/s, so further increases of download speed on my side would be useless. Note that a typical 10 GB game download at that speed takes just 3 minutes, and the unpacking and installing might actually take longer than the download. My internet plan comes with a 3 TB/month limit, and at maximum speed I could download that much data in less than a day; not that I can imagine wanting to download 3 TB of data. The speed is even more useless for streaming, because streaming for example Netflix at the highest possible 4K/UHD resolution just takes up 15 Mbit/s or 2MByte/s. I can stream maximum resolution Netflix on 45 devices simultaneously, if my subscription would allow that, before I'd run into a speed limitation.
So this is probably the end of the line for my internet speed. Faster internet exists, but serves no practical purpose. If my internet provider offered me a 2 GBit/s instead of 1 GBit/s connection for $10 more per month, I would decline.