The Downside of 120 Mbit Broadband Internet

January 30, 2011 Category: Networking

My Dutch ISP Ziggo provides internet access through DOCSIS cable modems. They are now capable of providging 120 Mbit downstream and 10 Mbit upstream, for an affordable price.

In a way this is mind boggling. Most people have 100 Mbit home networks that are not capable of handling full capacity. You need at least gigabit gitabit network connectivity on your router and internal network.

But there is a problem with all this bandwidth mayhem:

It is useless.

The only time I see the full 120 mbit in use is when I do a speed test, or when my mac is downloading system updates. Regular downloading (ISO's, big files from web pages), usenet, bittorrent, they cannot provide content with at the speed my connection is capable of.

The bottleneck is no longer the connection to the home. The whole internet is now the bottle neck. The content providers are the bottle neck. They cannot seem to cope with this use increase in client side bandwith capacity. They often seem to cap users at a specific download rate, that is way below full capacity. Although the connectivity is relatively cheap, if you can't use it, why pay for it? So downgrading to let's say 50 mbit until content providers are able to handle higher speeds seems the smartest thing to do.

I must say that I think that content providers are the weakest link. But I cannot be sure. It may be possible that the ISP network, especially their transit links, are the limiting factor. If anyone knows more about this, I'm interested.