When will we reach the internet speed limits?

This interesting chart from Dialogic and TNO’s most recent report on digital connectivity trends provides a nice overview of the current technological possibilities in terms of throughput, compared to the expected growth of demand. A few interesting takeaways from the charts:

  • DSL will be too slow for most users in relatively short time. G.fast is the next step for copper, but it will have significantly higher variation in speeds and will likely not become available everywhere.
  • DOCSIS 3.1 provides a growth path for cable that will allow it to compete for at least another few years. Effective throughput/capacity are however still highly dependent on the amount of investment by the operator.
  • The barrier of 1 Gbit/s (which is a common speed for current fibre access) will be reached in 2018 by the power users, and will be approached (but not exceeded) by the mainstream between now and 2025. Power users will have to move to access beyond speeds of 10 Gbit/s by then (which is still possible over fibre – although the equipment is relatively expensive such an upgrade does not require changes to the passive infrastructure).

Minimum sufficient advertised upload speed by user group

For upstream, it can be observed that current DSL is behind demand already for power users, which is unsurprising. Mainstream users are unlikely to hit any barrier in the upload direction in the coming years. Cable will have to move to DOCSIS 3.1 in order to be able to cater for innovators and power users. Fibre, finally, will provide sufficient capacity for the foreseeable future, for those who have access to it, at least.

Minimum sufficient advertised upload speed by user group

Read more: Dialogic and TNO (2016) De toekomst van digitale connectiviteit in Nederland (Dutch)