I don’t live way out in the boonies somewhere; I’m 5 minutes from a Starbucks. I have LTE at home. But the best level of Internet services available where I live is DSL, 6mbps down, 800kbps up. This means I can upload at about 80k/second.
For all you kids with your DOCSIS or VDSL or FTTH or whatever you’ve got that gets you upstream connectivity of >2mbps, you don’t know what it’s like living with slower internet. So it’s easy to write stories about how ChromeOS is the future or how online backup is the way to go.
I don’t backup my devices to iCloud, because when I do, whenever anyone plugs an iPhone or iPad into a charger, the rest of the home network becomes unusable for hours. Saturating the upstream introduces a huge latency in any network request, so even trying to do something like load a web page, which is typically fast, takes many seconds because of the added latency for all the requests required to load the page and all the bits of the page.
Loading cnn.com right now involves over 200 network requests. It takes a few seconds to load without a backup running; with a backup going, it takes 15 seconds before loading that site shows any data. This makes web surfing unbearable.
Reading Fraser Speirs talking about the Post-Mobile Era is frustrating, because while I would like to believe that the future is more cloud and less state, I just can’t see it for anyone without a better network connection than me.
Here’s what it’s like with this level of DSL.
I can join a Skype call no problem (QoS on the router ensures that the Skype traffic gets priority), but trying to share my screen and talk at the same time doesn’t work well. Too much latency. And sometimes, if the folks upstairs are watching Netflix or otherwise using the network, the Skype call will get choppy. I literally unplug the rest of the house from the network when I need a stable Skype call.
Streaming a video game session from the Wii U or PS4 to something like Twitch or uStream? Nope, can’t do that.
iCloud backups are off, as I mentioned. I put up with the network hassles of uploading photos to iCloud because the benefits of having them there are worth it, but it does mean whenever I get home after taking some photos, the network sucks for a while. It takes about a minute per photo to upload.
At one point I had TestFlight automatically uploading symbols for builds to their server, and it took me a while to figure out what was killing my network until I realized TestFlight was doing this.
Streaming video is hit and miss. I can usually watch a video from iTunes if I let it buffer a while before I start watching, but it really depends on what else is going on on the network. If one of my kids are doing something that’s using bandwidth, then video won’t play without interruption.
The level of DSL service I have is not uncommon. It’s considered “high speed”, and as far as I can tell, isn’t going to be upgraded any time soon. There are government programs to bring faster internet to rural areas, but that only applies to people still on dial-up. For me, this is likely as good as it gets unless I’m willing to move.