by John van Oppen, VP-Network, Ziply Fiber
“I feel the need…the need for speed.” – Tom Cruise as “Maverick” in Top Gun
Whether it’s FedEx SameDay shipping, Amazon Prime Now, Disneyland’s FastPass, or needing something ASAP, we’re conditioned to believe that faster is better. The same is true with internet service.
Unfortunately, without both robust capacity and low latency, speed is somewhat meaningless. But when your internet service provider (ISP) manages capacity and latency correctly, the internet speeds we want to become reality.
To ensure great speed, capacity is critical both where you use the internet and at the network level from your ISP, like us at Ziply Fiber. Your home or business network can dramatically impact your online experience. When your ISP’s network is correctly architected with ample capacity and super-low latency is what makes speed really fly.
Capacity at home and work matters
You probably have fiber, cable, or DSL running to your home or business. While these connections can yield large bandwidth rates while downloading, only fiber provides the highest data rates both upstream and downstream. Fiber also has the benefit of the lowest latency and without variations driven by interference common among other technologies like cable.
Even with the best access technology, what you experience – websites loading quickly/slowly, movies streaming clearly/buffering, video calls working smoothly/freezing – is often an issue of network capacity, not solely the speed of your last-mile connection. It’s this combination of fiber’s high bandwidth and low latency plus the high-capacity and massive peering we have here that drives the “zip” of the internet when using our connections, getting you where you want to go…fast.
Think of the internet – “the information superhighway” – like a series of actual highways running everywhere, getting you to the content you want. Each highway is built and managed by an ISP. Some highways feel like one-lane roads filled with potholes, stops, and people who can’t merge. Other highways – like ours at Ziply Fiber – are built 800 lanes wide in each direction, smooth as silk, with multiple 800-lane offramps direct to your destination. It’s like driving through downtown Anaheim vs. taking an offramp from I-5 straight into Disneyland. We get you there faster than our competitors because we’ve built our highway better and because it has more high-capacity on and offramps exactly where you need them.
Similarly, an internet connection that can handle up to 50 Mbps can let in a certain amount of data at once, while a connection that can handle “gig speed” can let in 20 times as much data. You experience faster speeds because you have more capacity.
That makes an enormous difference when the average household has 11 connected devices (computers, phones, TVs, Echos) all sucking down (and pushing out) data. When everyone is working, learning, teaching, streaming, and playing online, every device competes for a slice of your connection’s capacity. With all that data trying to go in and out, your connection can get clogged if there’s not enough capacity to handle everything everyone’s doing.
Network capacity, architecture, and latency planning amplify your experience
Having capacity at home and work is critical, but without a strong network, your online experience might just be OK. Many ISPs’ networks are built on technology initially designed when only TV or telephone calls mattered, but we believe people need a modern network purpose-built for the internet.
The cool thing about fiber – only fiber – is that speed is symmetrical, meaning that upload and download speeds are the same. Many cable companies offer packages labeled things like “50/10,” which means you can get up to 50 Mbps of download capacity, but only up to 10 Mbps while uploading. Today’s constant video calls, online gaming, and adding big files to the cloud for coworkers all require robust upload ability, which only symmetrical fiber provides.
How your ISP manages latency – the delay between clicking something to request a piece of content and when it starts getting sent so you can see/hear/view it – also plays a big role in how you experience internet speed. Through our open peering policies, we directly connect to all major sources of traffic (think of any major entertainment, shopping, social, or business provider, and we’re likely wired straight in). We consistently deliver faster speeds because we’ve placed our routers and network quite literally right next to theirs and have direct connections in, meaning we don’t go out to the broader public internet to get to the movies, music, social networks, and other things you’re looking for…just like that 800-lane offramp directly where you want to go.
Because we use fiber, latency between our customers and these sites is minimized, resulting in faster application load times and 10x shorter roundtrip delays on our network vs. many other ISPs. And with terabits of peering capacity, we’re direct-connecting to more providers every day.
So when it comes to that need…that need for speed, just know what makes the internet “fast” for you is the critical combination of capacity at home or work to handle what you want to do, when you want to do it, and a strong network built to enable it.