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NTIA Study: Connection Quality Trumps Speed
Though Not By a Whole Lot...
by Karl Bode 06:35PM Monday Jun 24 2013
According to a new study from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (hat tip to Multichannel News), more users pick connection quality than speed as their top criteria for picking a broadband connection. According to slightly-dated 2011 Census data collected from more than 53,000 households, 37% said service reliability was the most important criteria when selecting a broadband service provider. 33% said speed was their top criteria, followed by affordability at 24%. At the same time, among those who left their ISP, 38% said price was their motivator, followed by speed (30%). 41% of broadband cord-cutters did so because of high prices, says the NTIA.

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FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Raw data has tons of info on how the internet is used

The census data the study was based on is here:
»www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publ···bles.pdf

The full report analyzing that census data is here:
»www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publ···ence.pdf

The part of the study that will appear pretty dated is about mobile use of smartphones and tablets. In 2 yrs I am sure that mobile internet access has grown tremendously. Yes even with the onerous caps on mobile use.
--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."

jmn1207
Premium
join:2000-07-19
Ashburn, VA
kudos:1

Speed and Quality

In most cases better quality goes along with faster speeds, as the faster services often have upgraded infrastructure and use relatively new equipment. That said, my old DSL service was extremely reliable, although many would certainly consider the speed compared with today's standards to be too slow.

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Verizon FiOS

1 recommendation

Re: Speed and Quality

The thing is, though, those faster and faster speeds don't really show themselves in real-world usage for the huge majority of customers. Yeah, looks great on the speed tests, but if you ever exceed 10mbps during actual usage, then your usage is either atypical or you've got a lot of people using a connection at the same time. For most customers slower tiers would only mean a stream buffer fills up more slowly when initializing--they'd never even notice the difference.

What we need is some real competition between providers, with slower speeds for lower prices.
TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

Re: Speed and Quality

Back home I'm on a 6/1 DSL connection.

Could get a plan with faster download speed but I don't see the point, since the upload speed would be the same, and I'd be spending more money.

Cable ISP also has plans with faster download and upload, but quality isn't as good as the DSL.

Low pings, no packet loss, high uptime (reliability), and upload speed is more important for me than speed alone.

If I've got something large to download, I can wait. There's nothing that I need to download like "NOW!!!!!!!!!".
en103

join:2011-05-02
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Re: Speed and Quality

If I 'could' get DSL at a low(er) price than cable, I would probably take it.

I agree that quality over speed is it for me (also why I left DSL). I was at the edge of my CO (no remote terminal for me) at 3Mbps/512kbps, and very low latency on fast-path.

Downside - line wasn't stable, and AT&T increased rates on POTS (required), making cable cheap.
Cable here is good - the bad part is the line in my house. 20/2Mbps is more speed than I need, but won't say no to.
TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

Re: Speed and Quality

Yeah part of why I need a quality connection is because I don't have POTS, I use VoIP which is significantly cheaper, about $5-$10 a month instead of $50+ for POTS once you add all the "features" and a long distance plan.

The VoIP is my ONLY phone (I don't have a cellphone), so quality reliable internet is a MUST.
dfxmatt

join:2007-08-21
Evanston, IL
uh, what? people do use more data, and studies have shown almost exponential growth in data usage year after year. So faster speeds absolutely do matter.

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Speed and Quality

Excluding gaming, which most customers don't do, streaming video is the most bandwidth intensive thing a customer typically does. You don't even need 5mbps for that; I just said 10mbps to be generous (and to cover HD, which might take up to 7 or 8 mbps). Yeah, everyone's using their connections more often, but that doesn't translate into needing more speed. So, no faster speeds don't matter much at all, except as I said.
dfxmatt

join:2007-08-21
Evanston, IL

Re: Speed and Quality

you're not answering my statement. You're just dodging it altogether.

it's not a question of "how much they use their connections", it's explicitly "people may have used 50GB 10 years ago and use 500GB today." Bandwidth increases only make us hit those caps that much faster - and every bit of that proves that we need more bandwidth, not less.

the "nobody uses it" is a false dichotomy people use to attack individuals instead of acknowledging usage patterns which are well documented.

Gaming barely uses minimal bandwidth - streaming video may use more, but that's not all people do. Websites use the most data, whether it's from downloads resultant or just images on the site, etc. With faster speeds, people's utilization has gone up. What a magic idea, right? /facepalm

GlennAllen
Sunny with highs in the 80s
Premium
join:2002-11-17
Richmond, VA
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Speed and Quality

Oh, I see now... you don't even have a clue as to what I was talking about. Try reading my initial statement again--it's about how much speed people actually use, not how much use they make of their connection (well, duh, people consume more now than ever before). Or are you just trying to misdirect my statement altogether?
dfxmatt

join:2007-08-21
Evanston, IL

Re: Speed and Quality

there are legitimate uses for increased speeds. linux ISOs, movie downloads, and most importantly multiple computers.

you do realize that most people aren't a 1 network-using-device per household, house? right? even 1 person will have a phone/tablet/laptop (any combination). So no, they don't need to use 10mb. they need to use 5mb on 2 connections. Same issue.

1 person plays games, another watches youtube videos, and another browses the web? have friends over? or how about a single person working from home over VPN? or hosting an open wifi in addition to using the network yourself? Suddenly 10mb is shitty and becomes way below the minimum, and upload speeds also begin to matter much more. this is the reality.

The traffic explosion/huge uptick in usage shows that not only do people need more bandwidth, but that they're hitting these limitations more often. It's not a mystery why people are more vocal and why even 20mb down/2mb up is crap. The internet is no longer a "early adopters" thing and hasn't been for a long time. It's an "everyone" thing.
josephf

join:2009-04-26
Reviews:
·VoicePulse

Who Has Poor Quality/Reliability?

I've used numerous ISP's in the Metropolitan New York area for years, both residential and business, and have never had significant quality or reliability issues with the connection over any long period of time.

Where are there quality/reliability issues?
nicholasr87

join:2008-11-08
Columbus, OH

Re: Who Has Poor Quality/Reliability?

you are extremely lucky then. This is a huge problem everywhere in the country.

hadbadtimes

@qwest.net
I had issues with the fastest provider in the town I lived in(comcast), and switched to DSL when I noticed it was a more stable connection. I have not had issues with Qwest/Centurylink in my town, as much as I have had problems with Comcast -- I am sure comcast has fixed most of that here, but I stuck with DSL as the slower but more consistent and reliable connection. YMMV
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS

^BuMp^ already!!

catching up on the upload from piss poor asymmetrical would be nice too.. if the ratios are greater than 3:1 it's beginning to look a lot like a bad deal for the consumer.

for the ISPs around the US and globe that haven't bumped speed tiers as free or dirt cheap upgrades this track is for you...

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgP0aUKlmNw
moodydan

join:2013-01-03
Gate City, VA
Reviews:
·Embarq Now Centu..

Quality of Connection

I've used two different high speed internet providers and quality has never been an issue for me either. Both have been very reliable. I rarely hear of complaints about how reliable an ISP is these days so I think for the most people those that are having issues with connection reliability are in the minor.

FarmerBob

join:2000-12-21
Littleton, CO
Reviews:
·Comcast
·CenturyLink
·EarthLink
·ViaTalk

Solid far outweighs Speed . . .

Since having SDSL first through SprintION (1997-2002) that was severely solid, I could do and get things done on a 10/10 line with 4 digital phone lines that I can't on a 25/6 these days. I had the perfect comparison and 10/10 was all that was needed. Speed does not equal a solid line that gets your "media" to you. Back in my E911 Tour days (early 90's) with AT&T, I learned from the techs that would set up the conventions across the country, that a good clean solid stable line was worth far more than a speedy one. I have seen that with every provider I have had since the mid-90's. This is something I noticed when conveyed to a service tech would gain his confidence that you knew what you were talking about.

Right now with the Comcast speed debacle the 25/5 (avg) connection that I had for 18 months, that didn't test out at that speed all the time, but was solid and stable. Which was great for anything, got chopped to 18/4 after the speed increases and with it its stability. It's now so flaky, that sometimes it takes a page minutes to load. One that I'd go to daily started to take 15-30 minutes to load. All the while speed tests, that holy grail service indicator says to those that are responsible, that things are just fine. NO they're not. With 18 down it shouldn't be a problem. But . . . I'm getting constant server time outs and connection errors for mail as well that I did not get before.

But now that all my neighbors that have upgraded services to higher speeds are saying they are having the same issues and would rather have their slower speeds and better connections back.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

Re: Solid far outweighs Speed . . .

I did not think Broadband let alone 10/10 existed in 1997.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

FarmerBob

join:2000-12-21
Littleton, CO
Reviews:
·Comcast
·CenturyLink
·EarthLink
·ViaTalk

Re: Solid far outweighs Speed . . .

Yup. Broadband, as it's called now has been around for a long time. It was just getting tapped into it that was the kicker. Having worked with AT&T I had access to resources that were not available to the public in late 1990's. But their product proved to be so great that within a couple of years it was. And too bad that SprintION was shutdown for their need of right-of-way that was denied by Qwest, granted law, but not enforced by the FCC/Feds. So it was easier for them to shutdown than fight in it court. I cried the day that they told me that they were going away. I also had to move 53 clients to other services. What a nightmare and culture shock. Since the axiom changed against us. I still have mine and many others Battery Backed-up Modem/ATA units in my basement. Devices that we will never see again that provided services that we'll never know. 10/10 plus 4 phone lines with "0" problems during the whole time for $100 a month. Their tech guys use to call me to chat since they had no service calls. Their Cat4 it would be for that time, is still installed in my house and doing great where I am suing it. I have Cat 6+ and 802.11ac for mission critical areas.

My connection was so great even at 10/10 Apple used me to trial downloading their biggest OS update DL to date, wait for it, a whole 80MB. I DL'd in less than 15 seconds and DL'd and decompressed it three times just to make sure I was not dreaming. Just plain beautiful. But that type of honest forthright service we'll never see again.
kevinds
Premium
join:2003-05-01
Calgary, AB
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Shaw

Of course...

Quality is significantly more important than speed...

50% packet loss on a 100 mbps internet, or 0% packet loss on a 3 mbps internet connection

2 mbps 99.9% uptime, or 25 mbps with 75% uptime?

The choice for higher quality instead of speed isn't a complicated one
--
Yes, I am not employed and looking for IT work. Have passport, will travel.