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In the past year and a half, your internet usage has most likely changed. Chances are, you are spending more time online, whether working from home or participating in Zoom happy hours, remote schooling, or virtual doctor’s appointments. With the onset of the global pandemic, we’ve all come to realize just how important the internet and our ability to connect to it are.

The broadband industry, which is continually changing to meet customer needs, has been stepping up efforts to accommodate increased speed and bandwidth demands. Bloomer Telephone Company, offering speeds up to 1Gig, has stepped up to ensure customer and technical service practices are safe for both employees and customers—and that customers are getting connected or upgraded as quickly as possible.

The global pandemic has brought to light the fact that the minimum Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) speed requirements might need to be updated. The last time the FCC reset the speed definition for broadband was in 2015, when it was established that download speeds must be at least 25Mbps and upload speeds must meet a minimum of 3Mbps to qualify. Prior to that, the broadband standard, established in 2010, was 4Mbps for downloads and 1Mbps for uploads.

Lucky for you, there’s no need to wait for the FCC to set new speed standards. With Bloomer Telephone Company, we’re happy to help you determine the speed that’s right for you—right now!

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When choosing internet speed, many people jump straight to the price. This is understandable, but isn’t always the best tactic. To make sure you’re getting the right speed, there are three key points to consider:

  • Will my internet be powered by the latest technology? And why does this matter?
  • How much bandwidth do I need? And how is this different from speed?
  • How many internet-connected devices are in my home? And are they being used simultaneously?

Internet technology and why it matters

Internet can be brought into your home over DSL, coaxial (or coax) cable, or fiber lines. Each of these creates a pipeline for your internet to move through on its way to your devices. The more advanced the technology, the more opportunity you have to reach faster speeds.

DSL: The internet is transmitted over copper phone lines. Speeds range from 5 - 35Mbps (for downloads) and 1 - 10Mpbs (for uploads). The speed will vary depending on how far you are from the internet provider’s local office. DSL offers minimal bandwidth, and if weather knocks out the phone line, you’ll most likely be without internet, too.

Coax: Sometimes simply called “cable,” internet is delivered via copper coaxial television cable. Speeds range from 10 - 500Mbps (download) and 5 - 50Mbps (upload). Bandwidth is shared among neighbors, so speeds may slow down during peak times. Coax can also be susceptible to weather—and with shared bandwidth, it’s often unstable and unreliable.

Fiber: Internet is transmitted by the speed of light. Well, almost. Fiber-optic lines are comprised of many plastic or glass strands, no thicker than a human hair. Data is transmitted by sending pulses of infrared light through the fiber-optic lines. Fiber is more resilient to weather, electrical surges, radio waves, and other environmental conditions than DSL or coax. Also, fiber can travel longer distances without compromising speed or stability. The best part? Fiber can currently offer speeds up to 1000Mbps!

The difference between bandwidth and speed

Although some people seem to use the two words interchangeably, bandwidth and speed, are, in fact, two different, but related, things. Bandwidth determines how much data can be downloaded or uploaded, and speed determines how fast the data moves. For example, if you choose a plan with 100Mbps, it means you can move 100 megabits of data per second. The higher the Mbps, the more data you can move per second.

Here’s where bandwidth can play a limiting role. Although fiber bandwidth is not shared among neighbors, it is shared within your home. Using the 100Mbps plan as an example, assume your home is simultaneously using ten different internet-connected devices (currently, the average household has 25 internet-connected devices)—and each device requires a minimum of 10Mbps to operate properly. If that’s the case, you’ve just maxed out your internet plan. If you connect even one more device, your internet experience on all your devices is going to be hindered. You may experience lag and buffering, or the device may disconnect from the internet.

It may feel like the internet is slowing down, but, in reality, it’s just overburdened because there isn’t enough bandwidth to cover all of your devices at the same time.

Taking a look at the devices in your home

When counting the number of devices in your home, consider the devices each family member uses. Then move beyond the obvious computers, laptops, cell phones, smart speakers, and smart TVs, and consider the other smart devices (such as lights, doors, security, appliances, and thermostats) and Wi-Fi-connected devices (like printers) that use your internet connection daily.

Then look at how those devices are being used and when. Is there more than one work-from-home person under your roof? Are family members gaming, streaming, and video chatting on multiple devices at the same time? The more devices you have—and the more people using those devices at the same time—the more bandwidth you need.

When you consider the number of your internet-connected household devices—and how and when they’re used—you can make the smart choice about which internet technology, bandwidth, and speed are right for you.

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Bloomer Telephone Company is happy to help you determine which speed is right for you. Contact the friendly hometown staff at 715-568-4830 or stop by the office at 1120 15th Avenue in Bloomer.