Stop and count with me for a moment. How many internet-connected devices do you have in your home?
For many of us, smartphones and computers are the first internet-connected devices that come to mind, but what other devices are there? How about tablets? Are there any smart TVs or streaming boxes, such as Roku or Amazon Fire TV, in your home? If you have children at home, what about their game systems, computers and other devices? Maybe you’ve gotten into smart home technology and have installed “smart” bulbs, security cameras or outlets.
When you think about all of the things we regularly use that depend on the internet, the numbers can grow quickly. It is projected that the connected home device count will grow from today’s average of ve to 10 to as many as 50 devices in less than five years.
Whatever your number of connected devices happens to be, know this: HCTC is continuing to invest millions of dollars to ensure the broadband capacity and capability needed to serve our membership will be there.
The Cooperative’s more densely populated areas, such as Comfort and Ingram, already have extensive fiber deployment, and our progress continues. While our new investments are focused on bringing fiber optics ever closer to the customer premise, many homes and businesses can be adequately served by our remaining, but upgraded, copper networks – if the customers are equipped with appropriate packages. Allow me to explain.
While we often talk about an internet connection speed, we usually reference the download speed. The bits and bytes arrive at our network at the same speed no matter your connection, but it’s the capacity — how many bits and bytes can pass through each second — that matters.
I often tell people to think of internet service like plumbing. Each file you try to download is like water filling up a bathtub. The bits of data that make up the file flow through your modem and router, just like water into a tub. Filling a tub from the spout is much faster than filling it with a sink sprayer because the spout has more capacity to let more water through. Similarly, a smaller connection is going to limit the amount of data that can pass through quickly when compared to a bigger connection.
To follow that analogy, it’s also important to consider how may faucets, or connected devices, you’re going to use at the same time. If you open all of your faucets, the water pressure is going to dip significantly, and it’s going to take a lot longer to fill each tub or sink. For broadband, the same thing happens when multiple devices are on a network. If you have three tablets, a game system, two computers, four phones and a streaming TV using your connection, each one is going to be slower — unless you have a high-capacity connection.
It might surprise you to know that even though we are working to displace our remaining copper network with fiber, the existing retained copper in most cases can now provide a much larger “pipe” than what most members subscribe to. In fact, over 80 percent of our current subscribers could upgrade their broadband packages right now.
As we continue to improve our network, we’re looking down the road to the future. We see families in our area continuing to add the latest technology to their homes, which drives up the demand for broadband capacity. I assure you that whatever the future requires and whatever mix of technology is needed, HCTC fully intends to be there for you.