Because 11Mbps is better than 10Mbps

November 30, 2009 holman

Why do cable companies bother advertise their connection speeds so heavily? Internet connectivity has lagged behind hardware specs by about 5-10 years, but they’ve followed the same path. In the 1990’s, a 486 blew away a 386. 512MB of RAM offered enormous advantages over 256MB. But today it just doesn’t matter. Apple, in particular, buries technical specs away, because the vast majority of people just don’t care if their Core 2 Duo is running at 3.06GHz or at 2.1GHz. Software and hardware have progressed to a point where incremental improvements are effectively negligible. It’s the experience that matters. It’s the design. It’s the freedom. It’s the productivity.

Today, connectivity is the same. The vast majority of people are fine with a basic cable internet package. Most YouTube videos — the fattest bandwidth hit for the average consumer — will buffer and start playing within seconds. The connection speed shouldn’t be a selling point. The selling point is how your experience is: are your customer service reps assholes? Or the design. Is billing and package management a complete nightmare? Or the freedom. Are you filtering and prioritizing your customer’s bandwidth? Or simple economics. Are you dicking everyone with fee after fee, even when someone upgrades their equipment to pay more money to you?

Yes, you techies out there streaming bittorrent over a tunneled Tor node to a DC++ server do want more bandwidth. But you’re also not going to buy a random, vanilla metal box from Dell. You’re in the minority. It just doesn’t matter anymore.