Skip to Content
Skip to Table of Contents

← Previous Article Next Article →

ATPM 17.07
July 2011


How To



Download ATPM 17.07

Choose a format:


by Mark Tennent,

The Biggest Tossers in Europe

That’s us Brits. We throw away more than any other EC country and much of it still usable. The bulk of our “stuff” ends up in giant landfill sites even if we recycle it, all because the market is flooded with dead plastic, paper, and CRT TVs.

We had to make a decision whether to give up something perfectly adequate. Our home and studio is in an area where we are offered a broadband choice from the best of the UK’s leading suppliers. Speeds available vary between pathetic to incredible, but at what point does all the speed become a waste of money?

The best our telephone line could manage was a miserly 5Mbps download and 0.8 upload. This was after numerous modem upgrades, changing wholesalers, and switching between various flavours of ADSL. We could also guarantee that at half past five, ADSL would go down. Exactly the same time we wanted to upload files of the day’s work to servers around the world. Obviously people were getting home from work and hitting their connections. But we paid a premium price for business lines and contention ratios meant to make sure we had priority access.

The move to cable was inevitable, and immediately our upload speed was better than the best download speed ADSL ever supplied. It is more than adequate for our needs and even faster than we are supposed to be paying for. Then Virgin told us we can have double that and shortly double that again. All for an additional £22 per month.

What Will All That Bandwidth Get Us?

At the moment, our 50Mb cable link means we can do everything we need, rapidly and without the disconnects which plague ADSL. Uploads and downloads of gigabytes of data are a matter of minutes. The server we are connecting with is the limiting factor rather than our cable connection. BBC aside, that is, which has been consistently the best in our experience.

We are a household where, at times, we have four or more smart phones, one iPad, two Samsung Tabs, seven laptops, and two or three desktop computers running FTP servers and the like. Plus our own little cloud upstairs serving videos to whoever we give the password to. In addition, we might be streaming to an AppleTV or the iPad from Crackle. Perhaps one or two of us are having a video chat to girl/boyfriend left behind in London/Chicago.

If we fancy a movie download, usually about 1.5GB from the iTunes Store, between clicking on the link and sitting to watch is about the same time it takes to get the foil and wire off a bottle of Prosecco. With enough time left over to pop the cork through the open French doors into the garden to see if we can beat the current distance record. An achievement I lost recently when my partner uncorked a particularly fizzy specimen. The cork shot up three metres and sailed past the greenhouse by a gnat’s crotchet to land in the garden pond some 15 metres away. Personally I think the wind was behind it.

Should We Move to a 100Mb Link and then to 200Mb?

Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear fame would undoubtedly declaim of course we should, speed is essential. It didn’t do The Stig much good when he won the court case to reveal his identity. He lost his job, had a brief appearance in BTCC racing, and seems to have sunk into history.

But he did give driving lessons to Cameron Diaz. And Tom Cruise if you are into short, Scientologist actors.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (0)

Add A Comment

 E-mail me new comments on this article