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Match your bandwidth with your pocket

By Shamille Scott Business reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 31, 2013



The amount of bandwidth you really need is largely dependent on how many devices and users access your Internet service. More persons and more devices mean higher bandwidth.


So you should definitely take the numbers into consideration when selecting your package.


But even with Internet packages, you can run the risk of wastage.


People want wireless Internet in their home so that all members of the family can access the Internet on various devices, tablets and smartphones and now even smart televisions, according to Denise Williams, director of corporate communications at Columbus Business Solutions (Flow).


Still, determining the right amount of bandwidth you need can be difficult, considering the many functions of the Internet these days, according to Jamie Ranston, experience architect at Shift Interactive.


Nonetheless, there are websites available which can assess the amount of bandwidth needed in a month based on answers to simple questions about their typical activities.


The data rate of a computer network connection is normally measured in units of bits per second.


For example, a family of two, with a smartphone and a personal computer each, probably wouldn't need more than up to 12 megabits per second (Mbps).


On the other hand, if mom is on a video chat with family overseas, dad is watching a news website on an iPad, son is playing an Xbox game with an on-line friend and is streaming or downloading movies on a laptop, and sister is watching Youtube videos while Skyping with friends, the family would need 20 Mbps, according to Flow, which offers packages that give up to 100 Mbps.


Streaming video and music, file sharing, online video chats and online gaming require modern would need fast Internet connections.


It's also a good idea to lock your wireless, lest unauthorised persons use it, clouding your judgement as to the bandwidth you actually need.


The Internet speed impacts the viewing experience for videos. Faster connections allow videos and music to start with no buffering or waiting, Williams said.


High definition (HD) videos require even faster speeds to enjoy that quality.


What's more, most modern websites are now very content heavy with multimedia elements such as, videos, animated graphics and images and will load very slowly on slower connections.


Video chat services can be frustrating without fast Internet speeds.


It boils down to your lifestyle and needs.


"People are watching videos, movies and news video clips; communicating via social media channels and online video chat services, Williams said. "Students are collaborating with their peer using online video chat services to complete assignments as well as to do research, taking advantage of the rich multimedia content that is online."


Internet services are quite affordable these days, the best approach to seek the best value and select a package that will allow everyone to use the Internet without interruptions.


That aside, being able browse the web would require equipment, wired versus wireless, these come with a cost, depending on the provider.


Check to see if you will be charged extra.


Looking to providers that provide more than one service can also help to keep your bill down.


And you can even get pre-paid packages, which make you avoid those monthly bills.


That package could work for an individual who only needs to check their emails, and aren't heavy users, Ranston said.


But if you are not up to running out of bandwidth when you need it most, it isn't a good idea, he said.