Would you pay for gigabit Internet?


There is no consumer demand for gigabit Internet, says the chief financial officer of Time Warner Cable. The company is adamant that it is in the business of delivering what consumers want though, but that doesn't include ultra high speed Internet connectivity like the gigabit network that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is rolling out in Kansas City at the moment. You can read more about it here.

On the surface, the assertion appears to be a haughty statement that detracts from the positive benefits of ultra fast Internet access speeds. However, if you would pause for a moment and consider that common Internet activities, such as web surfing or video streaming, would work just as well at 20Mbps or at 1,000Mbps, then perhaps the relative lack of interest will start to make sense.

The problem, as pointed out by Ian Paul at PC World, is that the overall Internet infrastructure doesn't actually support gigabit speeds. So while bumping up the speed of your Internet will decrease the chances of intermittent hiccups when browsing the web, it doesn't necessarily result in a noticeable speedup. How about quicker access to work resources from your home then? Well, only if your office network was wired up to a similar amount of bandwidth in the first place, and the VPN at the gateway don't become a bottleneck.

Many Internet service providers simply don't deliver the advertised amount of bandwidth to consumers too. This could happen by means of over-subscription, in which Internet service is sold to more consumers without increasing the available bandwidth, or via throttling mechanisms applied to specific types of network traffic deemed by the ISP as detrimental.

As you can imagine, it doesn't really make sense for ISPs to offer high speed Internet without being able to charge more. On the flip side, consumers don't find it compelling to pay more for a faster Internet connectivity that doesn't feel much different either.

Before I end, I'll just like to add that I'm completely in favor of fast Internet service, In fact, I personally subscribe to two different ISPs for redundancy and speed. Unfortunately, while 1Gbps is available where I stay in Singapore, the price of  $320 per month is far too expensive for me. I'm curious though, to hear if you would pay more to have gigabit Internet speeds at home.

As usual, I look forward to hearing from you via a tweet, an email, or a note in the comments section below. - Paul Mah  (Twitter @paulmah)