Most of us now have around five devices connected to our home wi-fi network – a figure that’s only going to rise. But, when many don’t have – or can’t get – high-speed broadband, how sustainable is our usage?
How many devices would you expect most households to have that can connect to the internet? Going back five or six years, I don’t think it would be wrong to assume that most households just had one PC, or at a push, a laptop too.
Roll on to 2011 however, and developments in the technology market mean that UK households now have an average of 4.6 devices connected to a home wi-fi network at any given time.
Wi-fi devices on the rise
This number, given in the 2011 Connectivity Report (commissioned by TP-Link), does not surprise me one bit. I wouldn’t even have batted an eyelid if it was higher. I live in a shared house, so perhaps not a typical example, but we have five laptops, five smartphones, one tablet and a wi-fi printer all sharing one wi-fi connection.
There are an ever-increasing number of devices that we can connect to our household wi-fi networks. Wi-fi printers are now commonplace, not to mention tablets, ebook readers, games consoles, smartphones and smart TVs. There are even plans for wi-fi connected fridges and cookers in the future, though what use they’ll be I’m not sure.
We’ve certainly wasted no time in getting connected. So what difference does this make to our current and future broadband needs?
Can our broadband cope?
Simon Towler, Head of Spectrum for the Broadband and International ICT Policy, Department of Culture, Media and Sport, recently commented at a Westminster eForum I attended.
He spoke about the fact that there’s no one application, even high definition (HD) TV streaming right now, that is going to eat up all of a 40Mbps connection. He went on to point out that stacking up all the things in the house, over a number of households, is the sort of thing that’s eating up bandwidth at the moment.
But this assumes that people have high-speed broadband, which is still in the minority. We also know this kind of service isn’t always possible depending on where you live, and it is of course more expensive. If you can’t get fast broadband speeds then multiple users sharing one connection are likely to cause even more of a problem.
Don’t get throttled
There is one other issue that plagues me here too, and that’s ‘traffic management’, otherwise known as throttling. This is something that a number of broadband providers use in order to manage traffic on its connection at peak times.
In some cases, heavy users can have their connections slowed at these times. In a family home, where multiple people are using one wi-fi connection, could you be more likely to be classed as a ‘heavy user’?
Traffic management policies are something I’m going to be taking a closer look at in the New Year so do let me know any experiences or concerns you’ve had. Are you surprised at the average number of wi-fi connected devices in a UK household? Can you beat me?