The early 2000s was a simpler time when the most important thing we did on the internet was making sure no one picked up the phone while downloading tunes from Napster. Now though, we’re dependent on the internet for more than just a 3mb mp3 file. I’m a blogger, I produce videos to go on YouTube, I’ve worked from home, and now even my current employment relies on an internet connection that isn’t just fast, but stable as well. So how much more important is a fast and stable internet connection these days?
Telecommuting and Working from Home
These days, there are a lot of opportunities to work from home. The internet is a large reason for this, allowing you to access a vast amount of information without ever leaving the door. However, as soon as the connection cuts out, you’re suddenly isolated, unable to communicate with my bosses or do any work. Back when I was working from home, this left me with no choice but to leave the house for the nearest internet cafe.
VoIP and Videoconferencing
When a lot of your work is enabled by the internet, your style of communication tends to be too. Email and chat services are the staple, but once you start working from home or communicating with a lot of tech-savvy clients, you’re communications need to level up. VoIP gained popularity early, but with increasing internet speeds, video-conferencing is becoming more common as well. At work, if I want to make sure a colleague and I are on the same page, I’ll often get on a VC with them to settle things in minutes rather than an email thread that could realistically go back and forth for an hour or so.
However, VoIP and video-conferencing can tax your network’s bandwidth. This is fine for corporate networks that use enterprise level solutions, but when you’re a blogger or someone who works from home more often than not, your home network can quickly get bogged down because you’re more than likely using entry-level consumer equipment provided by your telco. So while I’ve been able to enjoy VCs in consistent HD or even Full HD quality at work, this has not always been the case at home.
As a blogger, I’ve seen the shift in popularity from blogs with written content to “vlogs”. Blogging is significantly less taxing in terms of getting set up to produce content. However, as a blogger, I need to adjust to the trend and produce more videos.
The problem? Videos require much more investment and if you want your followers to enjoy your vlogs in Full HD, 2K or even 4K quality, a consistently fast internet connection isn’t just a want. It’s a need.
I’ve experienced uploads that I had to re-do every so often because the connection kept cutting out. It’s one of the reasons I keep my content to just 720p HD even though I have the capability to output 1080p Full HD.
Today, we are slaves to technology more than ever. Even if you’re the type that needs minimal supervision when working from home and can keep productive for longer, if your internet cuts out 5%, 10%, or 20% of the time, you’ll only be as productive as your up-time allows. Sure, you can still be unproductive even when you have stable and consistently fast internet, but at least it won’t be a factor in slowing your down when you do decide to do something worthwhile when it matters.
Sure, there are a number of ISPs out there hawking home plans of upwards of 3Mbps or better. I’ve seen some that promised 10Mbps at ridiculously affordable monthly plans. Of course, I know better. LTE-based home WiFi plans are never as stable as DSL or Fiber. That dinky little WiFi router they give you at first might be okay for most, but if the type of work you do hogs a lot of bandwidth, you need a better network plain and simple.
As budget-conscious consumers, it’s only natural for us to go for the most affordable plans that provide just enough bandwidth for casual browsing and entry level hardware to power your home WiFi network. However, if you’re working from home or have plans of doing so, it’s important to match your plan and hardware to the kind of work you’ll be doing.
Personally, as more and more content creators are shifting their focus from written blogs to more engaging video content, I need to make sure that my plan provides enough bandwidth for large video uploads. In the meantime, my home networking equipment also needs to be able to handle the large bandwidth requirements not just for my own needs, but for everyone else in the family as well. Of course, this applies to everyone else out there who wants to make sure their home WiFi network performs nominally.
In a way, your choice of ISP, plan, and accompanying home WiFi network is an investment that you need to think about for the long term. Sure, lower cost plans will help you save money. But if they get in the way of you actually getting any work done, then it’s time to think of an upgrade.