For some of us in the world, the internet is as natural as having a hand. In fact, we often take for granted the speed we have on our internet connections. Not everyone has equal access to the world wide web; all due to various reasons ranging from governmental control to lack of infrastructure to cost. I would venture to say that the majority of readers will have high-speed internet on their smartphone and at home. Let’s think for a moment, though, what really is fast internet?
Fast internet is relative
I live in rural northeast Georgia. Believe it or not, we do not have high-speed internet. You might be surprised to learn that not all Americans have fast internet. Nor do those persons have the ability to get quick connections…unless they pay an enormous price. For example, for me to have any decent internet speed, I had to have a T1 dedicated circuit run to my home. Oh, the phone company loves it since I am paying big bucks. However, my maximum speed is only 3 MB down. For those who still use dial-up, they can just get 56 K if all things are good. If I remember the ratio correctly, dial-up speed is 1% of what I have. It is reported that
- 28% of those in rural America do not have access to high-speed internet.
- 50% of the world does not have internet access.
- 15% of Americans do not have a reliable internet connection
Compare dial-up and my 3 MB with what many urban areas have for internet: 10 MB, 50 MB, and higher connections. For me, it is a choice. I prefer to live where I am. For others, it may not be a choice. Not only do I have a web business, but I also teach online courses. The extra costs that I pay are worth the joy of living in the country.
Think of internet speed in this way: Let’s say that you are traveling in your car on a highway. The rate is 70 mph. You start your trip. Suddenly, you approach a car that is putting along at 30 mph. You pass the vehicle using the passing lane. That car is quickly lost in the distance behind you. Now you spot a smaller car on the horizon. Not only do you approach the car soon, but you also pass and lose the car in your dust in no time. That vehicle was traveling 5 mph.
Travel times for you and those you passed. All of you are going to a town 70 miles away.
- For you, car #1, at 70 mph, it will take you approximately 1 hour.
- The 30 mph vehicle, car #2, would take 2 hours and 20 minutes.
- Car #3 traveling at 5 would arrive at the destination in 14 hours.
Alternative fast internet
There are alternatives for internet connectivity. The other options, depending on your needs and how you use the internet, may suffice.
I have a friend that has a reliable cellular phone connection where she lives in rural Alabama. DSL or cable broadband was not an option. She relied on her mobile carrier’s internet connection. Makes sense. Many of us use our smartphones for chat, text, web browsing, etc. So, she subscribed to their mobile internet plan. It worked for her and her family for the most part. I cannot recall if there was a data limit on her plan. As she worked from home for an online university, I doubt there was a limit that would hinder her needs.
Another option is satellite internet. It is possible to have high speeds up and down with satellite service. If you live in an area that is frequently cloudy, storms, snow, or anything else that blocks sunlight, then satellite service may not be suitable. Speed will vary based on the atmospheric conditions. Another factor of satellite internet service is bandwidth or the amount of usage per billing cycle. Most smartphone plans have similar limits. You have to pay for the program that is right for you. I have not, though, found satellite internet to have the multiple usage plans options. There may be one or two options. Once you max out your usage, you are throttled down to slow connection speeds. You may or may not have the opportunity to buy more usage allowance. For me, the calculations show it was more economical for me to use a T1 connection. Depending on what I was doing in any giving billing cycle, I could max out my plan within 2 weeks or less.
Impact of speed
As an internet user, you are well aware that sometimes there are slow connections and there are sites that load slowly. Think about the last time you encountered a slow website. Did you click off to find another site? Most people do. I believe the studies show that if a site does not load within 3 seconds that nearly all persons will go to another site.
Let’s look at what that means.
A growing number of persons are paying bills online and shopping online. If you have a fast internet doing this tasks are relatively easy and quick. If you do not, you have to click and wait for a few seconds for pages to process and load. Instead of taking 2 minutes to pay a bill, it may take you 5-10 minutes. The same would go for shopping. You find an item you want. To find the color options, you have to click a link and wait. You want to see that color in a bigger example. Click and wait. You decide to buy the purple shirt. Click and wait.
Did you want to shop for more items? Or, check out and pay for your order? Click and wait for either way.
You have a business. Fortunately, you do not sell items online. You do, though, frequently update your website about services and offers. Depending on your web page construction a slow internet would be too time-consuming even to bother. In fact, some security setting might disconnect you if processing changes took too long.
Then, you realize the horror of what your customers may be experiencing. What if they click on your site and it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Business requests have been decreasing for several months. What would you do?
As a web consultant, I am fully aware of the impact of speed on websites, internet connectivity, people’s perceptions of the site, and so forth. I attempt to keep sites clean and straightforward of unnecessary fluff and flash. The extras that are added are potential slowing effects. There are steps to help sites. You can use server caching, optimize your files, structure your site well, and design for speed. Contact me if you have a website and you are concerned about your site speed. There may be a simple fix. You may need to redesign. Either way, I am here to help.