Fiber Optics
Fiber optic strands bundled together with white light at ends

Around 15 years ago the ability to have 1Mbps Broadband was a luxury which allowed us to browse the world wide web with ease. As the Internet has evolved, so has our need for speedier Broadband. Now, fibre optic broadband is the big thing and while some companies offering 100Mbps, other companies have their sights set on something a little faster: 1000Mbps.

Lucky for me I found myself in an area which had been chosen as the place for a brand new Fibre To The Home (FTTH) trial which was offering speeds of up to 1000Mbps. This was a free trial and it felt like a dream come true as the particular area I was in only offered standard copper broadband with highs of 19Mbps.

So, after a six month love affair with the fastest broadband speeds I’d ever used what do I think?

To quickly summarise, the whole experience was absolutely awesome. Being able to download 50GB+ games in minutes and 5-10GB game updates in seconds was like a dream come true. Being able to load websites in an instance was also fantastic and added to the convenience. However, unless you have the technology in your home, or everything connected via a wired connection, these extraordinary speeds are a little excessive for what the “Average Joe” truly needs in their home. In other cases the advertised 1000 Mbps speeds are hardly attainable if you’re using older hardware with 2.4Ghz antennas.

As soon as the specialist router was connected and switched on, I immediately connected almost every device I owned to it. My PC was wired, and almost everything else was connected via Wi-Fi. The router, like most modern routers nowadays offered a 2.4GHz SSID and a 5Ghz SSID. We were told by the engineer to use the 5GHz connection when possible as it offered higher speeds.

Unfortunately not every device was 5GHz compatible – like the PlayStation 4 for example. This meant that we were limited to a speed that this particular band could handle, which was still pretty high, but it wasn’t the most ideal. 5GHz connections, although quicker, also offered a capped rate. Where the connection truly shined was through my PC which was directly connected to the router via Ethernet. It was there where I truly harnessed the gigabit Broadband.

Thanks to having a relatively new motherboard with an Ethernet port capable of accepting 1Gbps speeds I was able to fully experience everything these speeds had to offer, and while downloads were fantastic, the 600Mbps+ upload speeds were what truly blew my mind. I could finally start streaming on Twitch, I could easily back up and download files remotely without having to leave the PC on for hours on end.

Gaming online wasn’t without its pleasures either. There was literally no lag, ping was in the low 10s in almost every game even when I switched to North American servers.

However, no matter how much I cooed at the blistering speeds, I always felt like I was throwing a tennis ball in a 1000 metre-square room. I really wasn’t able to fully make the most of this opportunity, even if I’d consider myself a “power user”. The reason for this is because while gigabit Internet seems like a nerd dream, having to unfortunately move to fibre that hits highs of 35Mbps, I really felt no difference when doing ordinary day-to-day tasks.

Sure, I’m not downloading games from Steam at 40-80Mbps any more, but the download speeds I am getting feel perfectly adequate at the moment.

Of course, I’m not saying that 1000Mbps is going to forever be excessive, but until we’re all watching Netflix through 4K TVs as standard, or downloading games that are 100GB+, the need for such a high speed line felt unnecessary. Not only that, until more modern hardware adopts higher bandwidth speeds, we’re forever going to be trapped behind hardware limitations.

One example I have of hardware limitations is when I switched ethernet cable which ran pretty much the length of our home, to a much cleaner TP-Link Powerline which unfortunately capped the speeds at 100Mbps. Again, perfectly adequate speeds, but in order to benefit from the gigabit line, I’d have needed to spend in excess of £50 for the pleasure.

Unfortunately, the company offering the trial hadn’t quite nailed down the price of such a line, so while we waited for the trial to end we had to really consider what a line such as this was worth to us. Looking at other companies which offer similar speeds, we saw prices ranging from £60 to £80 a month, which personally for us was a little too out of our price range.

To summarise my experience, having 1000 Mbps Fibre Internet was really enjoyable and made those hour-long tasks of downloading games and updates and absolute breeze. However, until we’re truly equipped to make the most of such speeds, it’s just a little bit overkill, and if you don’t quite have the technology to keep up with such speeds, it could be an expensive waste of time.

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