How To Deciper Your In­ter­net Speeds

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - Paige Takeya

Most peo­ple have only two re­quire­ments of t heir i nter­net ser­vice: speed and con­sis­tency. When it comes time to up­grade, num­bers just look like, well, num­bers, and big­ger can usu­ally be as­sumed to be bet­ter.

But what is the dif­fer­ence be­tween 50 Mbps and 300 Mbps, ex­actly? And is it worth pay­ing an ex­tra $20 a month for a lit­tle more juice?

This week, I called Shan­non Sandry, di­rec­tor of con­sumer prod­uct man­age­ment at Hawai­ian Tel­com, to get to the bot­tom of things.

- tails. Mbps stands for megabits per sec­ond, and it refers to the rate of data down­load and up­load on your con­nec­tion. Hawai­ian Tel­com, for con­text, of­fers speeds rang­ing from 7 Mbps to 1 GB. More megabits trans­late to greater speed — at least on pa­per.

The ma­jor fac­tor in de­ter­min­ing what in­ter­net speed is right for you, says Sandry, comes down to what you plan to do with it.

“The lower speeds will al­low you to do the most ba­sic things: check­ing your email, maybe even or­der­ing things on­line via Ama­zon,” she says. “The faster speeds al­low you to do more in­ter­ac­tive things and - you to stream these large mu­sic - fer­ence and less buffer­ing.”

Com­mon sense so far, right? But an­other wrin­kle into your equa­tion has to be how many peo­ple — and how many de­vices — will be on­line.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence, once your in­ter­net speed is at, say, 200, 300 Mbps, there isn’t a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence on the per­for­mance of an in­di­vid­ual de­vice.

The trou­ble is, most peo­ple aren’t just us­ing a sin­gle com­puter to get on­line these days. Ev­ery­one has a smart­phone; plus we’ve got tablets, desk­tops, lap­tops, video game con­soles, print­ers and even, as Sandry dryly notes, smart re­frig­er­a­tors that re­quire an in­ter­net con­nec­tion.

And as any com­muter knows, the more cars try­ing to get on the free­way at once, the

“The faster speeds al­low you to do more on more de­vices at the same time,” Sandry says.

“Our fastest-grow­ing speed tier is the 300 Mbps,” she says, adding that it works es­pe­cially well for fam­i­lies who like to stream dif­fer­ent shows or Hulu) si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

But if you live alone or just with a part­ner, and all you want to do is check your email and look at Face­book, you don’t re­ally need 300 Mbps in­ter­net — you could be con­tent with a mere 50 Mbps.

OK, this all seems very sim­ple so far, right? But hold on: pay­ing for the fastest in­ter­net doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean you’re au­to­mat­i­cally reap­ing

Your in­ter­net might have the po­ten­tial to move at the speed of light, but it’ll still be slower on an iPhone 4 than an iPhone 7. If you’re not up­dat­ing your tech­nol­ogy to go with your up­graded in­ter­net, you won’t get the most out of ei­ther.

“If you have an older de­vice, you may have an older gen­er­a­tion of that pro­ces­sor, which can limit what you can do,” Sandry says. “There’s so many vari­ables when you talk about the in­ter­net and con­nec­tiv­ity.”

Other choke­points to think about: your Wi-Fi router, gate­ways and even the lay­out of your house.

Talk­ing to Sandry re­minded me that I have 100 Mbps for me and my sis­ter, and our in­ter­net is al­ways slow. I sus­pect the prob­lem lies not in how much I’m pay­ing for, but in our ce­ment walls, which cause the sig­nal to sput­ter.

All that tech­nol­ogy, thwarted by such a prim­i­tive thing.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Hawai­ian Tel­com’s in­ter­net of­fer­ings, visit hawai­iantel.com.

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