Internet with 1 Gbit/s: unnecessary expense?

Depending on the city you live in, 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 revenue (EBOX, a subsidiary of Bell, for example, offers a 1 Gbit/s package for $65 per month, versus $50 for 150 Mbit/s Packages).

After more than a month with this kind of home service, 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, this is 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. So 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. Therefore, up to 66 people could watch the movie at the same time thanks to gigabit internet, each on their own screen.

You’ll find, for most uses, it’s too much, even if you’re a large family with teenagers glued to their phones.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, video games 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 time savings are still appreciated.

We can also assume that a YouTube personality who needs to upload his videos regularly can benefit from the earned minutes. 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 try 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 that’s also Wi-Fi 6E compatible, I can download at full speed, but only if I stay very close to the router in my office, where the internet arrives. I can achieve this speed even with a computer connected using an Ethernet cable.

However, as I pull away, the speed drops rapidly. In the living room, a few meters away, it’s about 450 Mbit/s with a recent phone or computer.

My video game console is limited to about 200 Mbit/s (it sits in the TV cabinet, which degrades the Wi-Fi signal and slows it down). In other words, the only device I could most often get such a fast internet connection with – my keyboard – 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 noticed any difference in my daily life. Some downloads on 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 is no magic formula to find the perfect connection speed at home, but some tools – like this one comparative tidings – allows you to define your needs. In general, with more and more electronic devices in the home, 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. 50 Mbit/s.

One thing’s for sure, if gigabit internet isn’t offered at the same price as smaller plans (which it sometimes is, especially during promotions), you risk losing your money paying for all that unused speed.

Leave a Comment