how much bandwidth -

Bitrates required for common applications

Translation: How many mbps do you need for these common applications?

  • Youtube – 720p video – 2.5 mbps, 1080p – 6.8 mbps
  • VOIP – Skype – 0.06 mbps, CISCO WebEx – 0.15 mbps
  • VPN / Office E-mail – depending on how fast the corporate network is
  • Sending a 10 MB e-mail attachment – @10mbps (~8 seconds) @1mbps (80 seconds)

Video – your typical workday in 100 seconds:

On Starbucks Wifi, each client is limited to only 1mbps but upon testing, the ping looks incredible for shared Wifi, probably backend infrastructure is running fiber optics:

— ping statistics —
10 packets transmitted, 10 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 19.989/20.648/21.347/0.344 ms

At 20.6 millisecond, it is faster than the time it takes to blink (0.1 s or 100 ms). Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp and YouTube employs a magical cache system with servers located in Malaysia to serve content faster. To know more, look up AWS or Cloud Computing. So, speeds should be “faster than a blink” response times.

When talking about corporate e-mail or VOIP services, chances are these servers are located somewhere in Hong Kong or USA. Due to the distance, number of hops (number of routers in between host and destination) and network inefficiencies, we have to wait 4 blinks for data to transfer.

— ping statistics —
10 packets transmitted, 10 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 266.753/316.043/373.595/35.403 ms

Remember the Starbucks wifi with 20ms to local servers? It is about 15 times slower when connecting to US servers.

I can bore you with technical details, but trust me on these numbers: From your iPhone to Router to the Internet modem to the Tower / Fiber Cabinet to the final destination of, there are 12-15 routers on average. They are all configured to be seamless, and efficient – as they work very hard to find the fastest route from your devices to the server.

That means today, in 2019, equipment has become so efficient compared to 10 years ago that we can enjoy 30ms latency on 4G networks.

With home broadband in Malaysia soaring at 800mbps (Maxis) or 1000mbps (Time), the problem is seldom on our ISPs. Theoretically, their pipes to International ISPs should be very wide and underused. Gone were the times of 56k modem where ping was 2000ms and we pray to the gods that the connection won’t reset or mum won’t pick up the phone and disconnect our Internet.

ISPs are not the problem. Congestion should not be a huge problem, too.

Usually it’s the equipment we deploy. To counter that, we can buy 3rd party Routers and 4G equipment like the TP-Link, DLink, Asus or Huawei (yup, they produce routers too).

Also, it could be the way we perform a speedtest. When logged on Wifi with a phone, laptop, IPTV and other Wifi gadgets connected, we cannot be sure when other gadgets are updating their software in the background. Software updates are relatively huge, can take up to 200-500MB depending on how greedy the developers are. at Starbucks
At Starbucks

I’m typing this at Starbucks and although bandwidth (Mbps) is slow, the ping is quick. In a typical home-office scenario, that means I can get work done. Youtube works at 480p (0.6Mbps) and I can access Gmail Facebook Instagram just fine.

Now look at 4G goes on Maxis 4G
Using 4G at same Starbucks

Indeed, 4G has some overheads (speed bumps that makes the experience slower) than a Fiber connection. In this scenario, I can download a file 100 times faster than Starbucks. But perceived surfing speeds on Gmail Facebook Instagram will be negligible.

Is it nice to have the 71 Mbps down? Sure, but the quota would quickly finish up this way. Remember, your iOS and Android devices have a mind of their own at night. It might be sending data to Google, performing software auto updates, things like that.

A fixed fiber connection connected to LAN / Gigabit Internet will be sweeter.

Fiber 500mbps internet speed
Image stolen from

Remember, large corporations are paying thousands of ringgit per month for their Internet Connectivity. Our contention ratio could be about 200:1 whereas companies have a lower 1:1 or 2:1 ratio, which means for every 200mbps promised to you, the customer, ISPs have only 1mbps available for use. This is okay, because not everyone is max-ing their pipes all at the same time. It is hard to max your connection for a long period due to the width of the pipes you have in your home.

Streamyx ADSL used to cost RM 38 – But then, why did we (like a frog in boiling water) agree to the bump to RM 88, 99, 108, 129, 159, 199, 299?

Thing about ISPs is that, as long as your VOIP and Screen Sharing (latency dependent app) doesn’t drop in the middle of an important call, then you’re good to go. E-mail runs in the background. Web Based services are server dependent, so it could be as quick as 20ms locally or 300ms abroad.

So the magical question?

“Philip Khor, are you trying to convince me that 7mbps, 30ms ping is good enough for me?”. I say with a confident resounding HELL YEA.

But of course, if you have 500mbps, 7ms ping – then good for you! The ISPs managed to convince you of the speeds you might not need. Time to downgrade!