The saying that you only miss something when it’s gone applies even more when you’re talking about the internet. Or the lack of internet as I have experienced in my home for close to two weeks.
The internet is something you take for granted at home – like electricity and water. It’s just as essential for Australian households.
Until I recently I couldn’t speak more highly about the download speeds with my Optus cable broadband. It’s not unusual to hit 100Mbps per second but averages well over 50Mbps even at “Netflix hour” after dinner.
Upload speeds, on the other hand, have always been appalling. It’s lucky to break 1Mbps – not the best when I’m uploading review videos to YouTube and my latest podcast episodes.
But lately it’s been a completely different story.
Since January 22 the Optus broadband cable connection in my area (I live in the eastern suburbs of Sydney) has almost ceased to exist.
During the day there are bursts of the speed I’m used to but that would come to a grinding halt from early afternoon till I went to bed in the early hours of the morning.
Speeds of an evening were lucky to break 2Mbps – if we’re lucky.
I contacted Optus through my media contacts and they were quick to respond and put me in touch with their technical support team.
They explained there was an issue in my area. The fault appeared to be the inability for the network to handle the traffic.
But today, having slow or no internet can impact in many more ways than it did a few short years ago.
Before it was a webpage that took longer to load or an app that can’t connect through your wi-fi.
Today the impact is far greater.
Streaming Netflix, Stan or Foxtel Now was out of the question so it’s back to regular free to air or Pay TV or watching something off a disc.
If you’re streaming music on Apple Music or Spotify you’re out of luck as well unless you sacrifice your mobile data over 4G.
Our smart products were also rendered useless as well.
Our security cameras were all offline and we were unable to see who was at our front door with our Ring 2 video doorbell when were were out.
All of these products not only need a connection but also require a decent upload speed as well so you can remotely log in to them.
That’s when you check your security cameras – when you’re not home.
But if your home internet connection is down or slow, you’ve got nothing. It’s like not having a camera at all.
Same thing goes for other connected products and appliances which are designed to give users control when they are not home.
Without that home connection – you can’t call them smart.
So no starting your washing from your phone, or telling your robot vacuum cleaner to start cleaning or remotely turning on the air conditioner on a hot day to come back to a cool home.
I like to play Call of Duty online and to be competitive you not only need great reflexes but also a great connection.
I tried to play but the lag was just terrible. You could be the quickest draw in the world, but if your internet is slow or non-existent you might as well not even bother to play.
Optus were pretty apologetic about the situation – but apologies don’t solve my problems.
At first I suspected the slowdown was a result of the Optus HFC cable infrastructure being wound down to make way for the NBN which is scheduled to be connected between April and June in my street.
Optus confirmed this was actually not the case and that engineers were still working on the problem so the service would work at its optimum level until it was no longer required.
I can only hope the NBN gives me a high speed and reliable connection.