Frequently Asked Questions
What is symmetrical bandwidth?
Most ISPs emphasize speed as the primary selling point of their service. But what are they really advertising? How does that number translate in a day-to-day user experience?Speed can refer to download or upload performance on your connection – essentially, how fast the internet is sending and receiving data from servers to your device.
Download speeds are really important, and tend to get more focus since most online activity (loading web pages, streaming videos, etc.) relies on download capacity. But especially for business connections, upload speeds are equally important. If you’re uploading files to the internet using DropBox, Google Drive, or any other cloud-based storage platform, you’re going to need just as much bandwidth as you do to download files.
That’s where things can get a little confusing.
For example, it’s extremely common for ISPs to provide a higher download speed than upload speed – something that’s known as asymmetrical bandwidth. When an ISP offers you download speeds of 300 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps, that’s asymmetrical bandwidth – the speeds are different, and it can have a big impact on the overall connection performance. But they might still choose to advertise their connections as 300 Mbps, since the download speed gets more attention.
Asymmetrical bandwidth is more common among older copper providers. Fibre-optic connections generally offer symmetrical bandwidth, meaning (you guessed it) the upload speeds are exactly the same as the download speeds.
Imagine your daily commute. What if you were allowed to drive to work going 60kmph, but on the way home you were only allowed to do 5kmph? If you think that sounds like a special circle of hell, we agree! Which is why our connections are all symmetrical.
If you can download files and browse the internet at quick, responsive speeds, why wouldn’t you want to upload files and send attachments just as fast?
What is dedicated bandwidth?
There are two major types of internet service providers: best-effort and dedicated.
Understanding the distinction between the two is critical.
A best-effort provider is the most common type of provider. They can service both residential and commercial buildings.
They’re called best-effort providers for a few reasons, but one of the most important has to do with the overall reliability of the service. Even if best-effort services are online most of the time, the providers don’t take any steps to guarantee their uptime or the general reliability of the connections they provide. That means that users have no real recourse for holding best-effort providers accountable for their service shortcomings.
Another thing these best-effort providers don’t guarantee is available bandwidth. Let’s say you signed up for a 300 Mbps internet package from a best-effort provider. That means that you will see speeds of up to 300 Mbps if there is no network congestion on the provider’s network. If you’re browsing during peak hours while all your neighbors are as well, you’ll rarely be able to achieve that speed.
With a dedicated internet provider, you’re guaranteed your bandwidth at all times. Your maximum bandwidth is not affected by other subscribers usage. This is especially important if your business relies on your internet for video conferences, VoIP calls, or internet usage during normal business hours.
Difference between Bandwidth and Throughput.
Two of the most confusing words in internet terminology are bandwidth and throughput. Some people will tell you that it’s a potato/potahto kind of situation – two different ways of saying the same thing. In fact, these words are even used interchangeably by some internet service providers which can make it easy to get confused at the user level as well.
We figured it’s time to set the record straight.
Picture a typical Melbourne footpath. Let’s say that the average width of a footpath is equivalent to about 5 people walking shoulder-to-shoulder. That’s the bandwidth of the footpath – the maximum amount of people that can travel simultaneously along the footpath. The same concept applies when talking about you internet’s bandwidth. It’s the maximum amount of data that can travel from one location to another per second.
So what happens if there are only 3 people walking together on the footpath? Does the sidewalk become smaller, shrinking to accommodate fewer travellers? No way! The footpath, or bandwidth, always stays the same even if the number of people traveling on the footpath changes.
That’s where throughput comes in! Throughput is how much data per second is actually traveling from one location to another per second. In this case, the number of people on the sidewalk would be the throughout.
So what determines throughput? It can fluctuate depending on a range of different factors, but one of the biggest culprits would be the processing capability of devices on either end or in-between destinations.
For example, if someone is sending you data at 100 Mbps and your computer can only process the data at 50 Mbps then the throughput will only be 50 Mbps. Just like getting stuck behind slow tourists walking down Swanston Street, sometimes there’s no easy way to get around limited hardware throughput.
What makes fibre optic internet so special?
Your office has decided to invest in a fibre-optic internet connection with FG Telecom. Great! But what exactly is fibre-optic internet? Why is it better than any other options?
The best way to answer that question is to start with a pretty literal translation, then give a brief history lesson:
Literal Translation: Fibre refers to the fine and flexible glass along which data is transmitted. Optic refers to the light signals used to transmit the data through the fibre.
Brief History Lesson: For many years, copper cables were the industry standard. They used electrical pulses to transmit data between devices. But copper has its drawbacks – one of the biggest limits is that electricity doesn’t travel very far. For example, electricity can travel on coaxial cable for only about 1,500 feet before the data contained within the cable becomes corrupted.
That’s where light comes in! Light moves differently than electricity, which means the same data traveling on a single strand of fibre can travel over 15,000 feet without compromising on quality.
And distance isn’t the only advantage that fibre has over copper. In fact, most businesses are more excited about another feature of fibre-optic internet – the extremely fast speeds. Copper cables are only capable of a maximum bandwidth of 300Mbps while fibre can handle way over 10Gbps. (That’s 10,000mbps!)
When you combine reliability over distance and speed, you get a better experience. Businesses in particular need that kind of performance to stay competitive and efficient.