Internet service providers are waging a speed war, and the browser providers are battling, too. While Internet speed is getting most of the attention, browsers are important for attracting eyeballs, which translate into advertising revenues. But there’s more to it for you than meets the eye.
First, the speed war.
Comcast recently announced it would roll out its new Gigabit Pro, which the company claims can download at 2 GB per second. The first installation will be in Atlanta, where a lot of stuff to hype is happening. Google is establishing a new office and planning to roll out its 1GB Google Fiber service. AT&T’s U-Verse is also planning to roll out 1GB service there, too. Comcast and AT&T are technical partners for the baseball Braves and football Falcons, respectively. We’re not fans of either team on the field, but both are aiming to build the biggest and baddest wireless systems in a sports venue when their new stadiums open in 2017.
What does that speed mean to you? The short answer is: something and nothing.
The proposed 2 GB service would be 200 times faster than the average for U.S. homes. It would allow you to download an HD movie in about 12 seconds (as compared to eight minutes on a 50 MB per second speed), and families could simultaneously use multiple online connections for work and play with almost no delay.
The numbers sound cool, but even if you have 2 GB or 1 GB service – or even 50 MB service – it doesn’t mean you’re going to download that movie before you open your popcorn bag. The real determining factors will be the location of the server where the movie is stored and the number of hops – or routing stations – your download goes through. The MSN.com site, for example, is not housed in the US. Your download is subject to any restrictions in the home country and any other country through which it passes.
If the movie is stored on a server that doesn’t have a high-speed connection, you’re not going to get that movie in a relative instant. And, if the movie has to go through a number of routing spots instead of a single run from the server to your computer, that will slow it down even more. Finally, if you have a small pipeline at your home – or office if you’re downloading application software and large data or video files – your feature movie may have to get in the queue along with a ballgame or the results of a Google search.
Another point to keep in mind when looking at pure speed is that your cable Internet provider doesn’t have to deliver, let’s say, 50 MB at all times. If you read the fine print, a cable provider that offers 20 MB download speeds and 5 MB upload speeds only needs to furnish 16 MB downstream and 2 MB upstream. Speed from a T-1 connection is typically 1.54 MB, and you can get a 10 MB service connection, which will deliver 10 MB per second no matter what.
Your choice of the type and speed of an Internet connection will depend on what providers in your location make available and then on the speed you need. The browser is strictly your choice.
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is about to give way to Spartan. The new browser’s appearance will coincide with the release of the Windows 10 operating system. IE used to be the king of the browsers, but Firefox, Chrome and Safari have eaten deeply into its share. In addition, many users are accessing Internet content and shopping through their mobile devices.
Microsoft hopes Spartan will help its users tie together their browsing on desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones. Because browsers are still the way we get movies and go shopping, the pages you access through them can be monetized, so there is quite a bit at stake. Microsoft is betting that by making its browser experience more like those of devices, users will go to Spartan across all platforms.
Browser choice is really a matter of personal preference when it comes to IE-Spartan, Firefox or Chrome. It’s a matter of what you’re used to and how easily you can navigate and deal with pop-ups and pop-up blockers. AOL still has a large user base, but it dates back to when Internet content had a lot more text and hardly any video. The interesting note is that clients who still use it are very attached to it. We get more complaints from the children of AOL users who tell them to use another browser and Gmail. But anyone with AOL has no reason to switch as long as they’re happy.
Personally, I think Microsoft should have gotten out of the browser war. It would make life a lot easier for web developers, who must contend with the differences in how IE-Spartan, Firefox, Chrome and all browsers display on various-size monitors and across all types of devices. It would probably lower web development costs and get sites online faster if the browsers were standardized. In addition, its quirky way of handling pop-ups can be annoying.
We can help you decide which browser may be best-suited to how you use the Internet. More important, we can help you evaluate which type of connection and how much speed is best for your home or office – and we can make sure your systems are equipped and configured to take full advantage of your connection. Give us a call – 973-433-6676 – or drop us an email to talk about your needs and options.