Recently two things got me thinking a little:

  • One of my main PC’s needed a little maintenance
  • I visited the launch of Gigaclear’s Appleton network in Oxfordshire

My main Windows PC developed a memory fault and I needed to get a little support from Yoyotech, the excellent people who made it for me. When I got it back up and running, I benchmarked the machine using the Windows Experience Index and saw it was hovering between 7.8 and 7.9 – the index only goes to 7.9.

I’m yet to find a task this PC, when it’s feeling fit and well, can’t do in its sleep.

And this is one of two Yoyotech machines I have, so when I link databases between them and run queries on millions of records and transfer piles of data between them, they do it at gigabit speed in moments.

My network addressed storage box joins in, delivering data only a tad slower than the solid state drives in my PCs.

So to get this out of the way, I guess that does make me a geek.

But the other event was the launch of Gigaclear’s gigabit network in the Oxfordshire village of Appleton. They’re delivering a gigabit-based broadband service to homes and businesses in the village, and people were encouraged to come along to the village hall to try it out – a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) day.

I wasn’t going to bring my PC’s (far too big and cumbersome) so settled on my smart phone since it was already in my pocket. It struggled to get much above about 20Mbps throughput on the free 802.11n hotspot – way below the headline speed of the access point.

But that’s the point. I have a gigabit switch at home with a small number of unusually fast gigabit enabled devices capable of filling anyone’s broadband network. But the rest of the devices we have – phones, PS3s, tablets, laptops, media boxes, etc. – can’t.

Many of them are wireless, so even at 802.11n speeds of 300 Mbps they won’t come near to a gigabit connection. Especially when you take into account that wireless manufacturers still add the up and down together and forget to mention the overhead, so a 300 Mbps 802.11n network is probably closer to a 100 Mbps wired network.

So why might anyone want a gigabit connection – what is the killer app?

I think the point is that no one mainstream application today needs a superfast broadband connection much above, say, 40 Mbps (pick your own number but its likely to be less than 100 Mbps) but a family stuffed full of internet capable devices might.

For me the killer app is “The Family” and all their collected uses.

A typical scenario in our house:

  • My son doing homework online with Youtube and media rich resources or gaming
  • My daughter accessing different media for her homework or watching an HD movie on Netflix
  • My wife catching up with TV on iPlayer in HD since its built into the TV box or looking at other media services online
  • Me trying to hold a skype call or download large datasets for work

All at the same time!

But before you can properly use your killer apps full potential, you’ll need to sort out the biggest bottleneck emerging today – your home network. Home wiring and wireless networks typically fall a long way short of a true super-fast broadband connection’s capability.

  1. Pauline Rigby says:

    I have a standard Wi-Fi router that I plug into with an Ethernet cable, while my 13-year-old son connects wirelessly so that he can do his homework while Skyping with friends. The Wi-Fi is the 30Mbps sort, but my phone line only supports 6Mbps down and something pathetic in the upstream direction, so it shouldn’t be a problem. But he still manages to hog the connection by filling it with high-priority traffic so that my browser doesn’t get a look in. Is this due to traffic management by my ISP or do I have a crappy router? (“Doing homework” seems to be code for playing Minecraft.)

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