Internet at 1 Gbit/s: an unnecessary expense?

Depending on the city where you live, you may have already received advertising flyers in your mailbox inviting you to try Internet speeds of more than 1 Gbit/s at home. This is the new standard when access providers want to stand out with their very high speeds and increase their income (EBOX, a Bell subsidiary, for example, offers a 1 Gbit/s package at 65 dollars per month, against 50 dollars for a 150 Mbit/s package).

After more than a month with such service at home, I’m ready to go back.

What is “Gigabit Internet”?

Gigabit Internet is the name sometimes given to connections whose download speed exceeds 1 Gbit/s (or 940 Mbit/s in some cases, for technical reasons). They are 20 times faster than 50 Mbit/s, the minimum for a connection to be considered “high speed” in Canada.

Various providers offer this speed, such as Bell, Cogeco and TELUS. Gigabit Internet requires a fiber optic or cable connection.

In practice, that’s enough to download a music album in less than six seconds. A more common example: Zoom video conferencing software may require speeds of up to 4 Mbps. Thus, gigabit Internet would theoretically allow 250 people to share an Internet connection to work from home.

To watch a 4K movie in full quality with Netflix, you need a download speed of 15 Mbit/s. Up to 66 people could therefore watch the film at the same time thanks to the gigabit Internet, each on their own screen.

You will understand, for most uses, it is too much, even if you are a big family with teenagers glued to their phones.

However, there are a few exceptions. Video games, for example, take a long time to download. The latest title in the Call of Duty series can be installed in 10 minutes on a 1 Gbit/s connection, while it takes just over three hours on a 50 Mbit/s connection. Even the biggest players don’t discover a new game every day, but the saving of time is still appreciated.

We can also assume that a YouTube personality who regularly has to upload his videos could benefit from the minutes gained. However, this is more the exception than the rule.

You probably won’t be able to enjoy it everywhere

In concrete terms, it is also difficult to take full advantage of the speeds offered by the providers.

I installed a gigabit internet connection in my home so I could test out a new mesh network, where multiple routers are spread around the house to maximize network coverage. The Nest Wifi Pro I tested even has the newest wireless protocol, Wi-Fi 6E.

With a phone also compatible with the Wi-Fi 6E standard, I am able to download at full speed, but only if I stand very close to the router in my office, where the Internet arrives. I can also achieve this speed with a computer plugged in using an Ethernet cable.

As I move away, however, the speed decreases rapidly. In the living room, a few meters away, it is about 450 Mbit/s with a recent telephone or computer.

My video game console is limited to about 200 Mbit/s (it is placed in the TV cabinet, which degrades the Wi-Fi signal and reduces speed). In other words, the one device I could most often get such a fast internet connection with — my console — can’t even take full advantage of it.

I didn’t expect big changes, but compared to my old 120 Mbit/s connection, I hardly ever noticed a difference in my day-to-day life. Some downloads to my computer were faster, but not enough to be a game changer or to justify paying more for an internet plan.

What speed do we need?

There’s no magic formula for finding the perfect connection speed at home, but some tools — like this comparator News — allow you to establish your needs. In general, with more and more electronic devices in homes, a family will be able to benefit from a connection of more than 100 Mbit/s, but a single person who does not play video games will probably be well served with a plan. of 50 Mbit/s.

One thing is for sure, unless gigabit Internet is offered at the same price as the smaller plans (which it sometimes is, especially during promotions), you risk wasting your money paying for all that unused speed.

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Internet at 1 Gbit/s: an unnecessary expense?


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