How Much Does Internet Speed Cost?

Internet speedModern broadband connections come in many different speed grades, but as a general rule the faster plans tend to cost far more.  There are many reasons that higher speed Internet packages cost more, but not all of them are readily apparent without at least a little bit of thought on the subject.  This article is designed to be a primer on the subject.

More Internet Speed Is Better but Expensive

There is a simple marketing truth that everyone seems to understand instinctively: if you want more, you pay more.  There also seems to be a key element of supply and demand involved here, whereby regardless of the cost of supplying something the price is likely to go up as demand increases.  Broadband providers certainly are clued into this and arrange their tiers carefully and competitively in order to make full advantage of the market.

This is not necessarily a coincidence, but it is a product of the way that the companies that deploy enterprise grade network hardware used by broadband providers.  Some call it progress, others call it business, but either way there is certainly a trickle down that makes high-end gear affordable to companies that can deploy it only in areas where they are likely to receive a high return on their investment in the form of premiums.  In this sense it is fair to say that those that want the best in broadband performance will get the fastest Internet speeds and in the process be subsidizing the provider’s network build-out and the company or companies that supply that provider.  Of course, the entire process results in ramping up the competition.

The Cost of Living Urban

Urbanites generally have more choices when it comes to internet speeds and higher speeds overall than carriers tend to offer to rural areas.  That is not to say that rural options are not making very significant progress, but they are often still at the mercy of only one or two providers at best.  In many cases one of those providers is a satellite broadband provider, and they are advancing slower technologically than any other segment of broadband.

Why More Internet Speed Consumes More Electricity

While it goes without say that more of anything tends to cost more, there are some aspects of the equation that are not necessarily easy to understand for those without a background in engineering and electromagnetism.  One of the core concepts involved here is that not only does the electricity scale slightly disproportionately with speed, but the signal quality also degrades with speed.  Let’s take a practical look at this.  Let’s say that at a speed of 1.0 Mbps that 100% of the data gets from an end user to the Internet.  Upgrading to 2.0 Mbps results in a lowering of the margin between the signal and the background noise just as talking twice as fast makes you harder to understand.  The result is that signals not only need to be sent more frequently, but they need to be re-sent more frequently.

Diminishing returns is also a factor that rears its ugly head in such scenarios.  There are also cases where heating electric wires with additional current reduces the efficacy of transmission, further increasing operating cost due to extra electricity, further reduced signal quality, and additional wear and tear on electrical wires and equipment.

Carbon Free is Bad For All But Fiber

One of the truths that DSL and cable companies are not likely to share is the fact that their networks are highly fiber optic in nature.  This means that they use fiber optics in their own networks, but they generally deliver data through the last mile over some sort of metal connections.  The net result is that the electrical footprint is reduced but it is far from removed.  The faster the speed grade, the more carbon footprint is involved as a general rule, but that is not always the case.  So the bottom line is that there is really another cost of broadband, especially broadband delivered over metal; the environment.  Just how serious this cost is versus the rewards is a subject of debate.  Keep in mind that fiber optic broadband solutions manage to deliver several times the data for each ounce of carbon that they put into the air when compared to wire-based broadband.