Byte Me Article 242 – Internet: What speed do you need?

Internet: What Speed do you Need?

Regular readers of this column will be aware of my own personal challenges with getting a decent connection at my own residence.  After years of a good BigPond ADSL2+ connection I moved to Optus due to the dangled carrot of similar download speeds at a much reduced price.  The carrot turned sour when the new service regularly offered speeds that were less than one tenth of my previous connection speeds!

However Optus’ did some things right such as being able to facilitate the connection within a week of my ordering it and leaving me without Internet for less than two hours when switching service providers.  As Byte Me readers will already know, the transition back to Telstra has not been this quick.

Well over a month passed since ordering the Telstra Business Broadband service to when it was finally delivered and this included going without a home phone for several days and without ANY internet for a full week.  The initial connection was also at just ADSL (1) speeds before upgrade to ADSL2+ and it has also ‘only’ taken around 20 phone calls – just as well I have plenty of spare time?

2015-10-10 Byte Me Article 242 - Internet Connections

So do I have a decent Internet connection now?  Not yet!  I am now waiting for a ‘noise profile’ to be tested on the line as my internet speeds still drop significantly at peak times.  Anyway, what is a decent Internet connection?  There is no definitive answer here as it mostly depends on the end users’ expectations.

If we rewind to 15 years ago a simple dial up connection provided us with a useful window to the world.  We could send and receive simple emails and browse the ‘simple’ web sites of the day.  Microsoft updates didn’t exist and an anti-virus update was less than the size of a modern email attachment.  This dial up connection provided downloaded speeds around 40kbps.

Now I am totally unsatisfied when my Optus’ connection provided its worst download speeds of around 1000kbps and I am ‘unhappy’ when the current Telstra connection drops to 3500kbps!  Why all the fuss?  As a global society we are becoming increasingly dependent on our Internet connection as a source of information, education, entertainment, business transaction & communication.

Previously my BigPond connection was providing consistent speeds of 12000kbps but even this is way behind standards for the Western World.  If you are wondering how your connection stacks up then get everyone else in the house off the Internet, log on to and click on the ‘BEGIN TEST’ button.  A download result of 10Mbps is the same as 10000kbps.

The main bottleneck in regional Australia to better speeds are the copper lines that are currently being used to carry the majority of our Internet connections.  These copper lines have in many places, been buried underground in conduit for decades – well before the Internet was even an infant.  These copper lines were originally intended to be used solely for simple phone calls.

New technologies had to be invented to get these copper lines to carry an Internet signal however this has always been a compromise in speed and the available distance compared to the more modern option of using fibre optic cables to carry the same information (aka NBN).  Copper lines can carry an ADSL signal for a maximum of around 5kms from the exchange and they are limited to speeds of 24000kbps if you own the house next door!

If you are just 3kms from the exchange then you can expect maximum speeds similar to at my residence of around 12000kbps.  So what will we get from the NBN?  Next week we will look at proposed NBN speeds as well as what the Internet connections of the future will likely need (The Internet of Everything). 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

For more advice and assistance from Kerr Solutions, like and follow us on Facebook