Is Fiber the Answer to my Home Internet Problems?

As of March 19th88% of organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home. Since then, many of our coworkers and personal friends have felt the impact of this shift in their daily jobs, notably in the performance of applications like Zoom and MS Teams over their home Internet connections. Skype calls were completely dropping, Zoom meetings were choppy where video was stalling and audio was dropping out, apps like Slack were just freezing, and connecting to the corporate VPN was just plain frustrating. 

To address these issues, people have been switching their Internet plans to fiber because increasing their speed and capacity seemed like the logical thing to do. However, even with this type of upgrade, we’ve continued to hear about stuttering application performance and the message, “your Internet connection is unstable,” popping up on peoples’ screens. 

For example, one person we talked to was still experiencing problems even after he had upgraded to a symmetrical 100/100 Mbps fiber line. This didn’t make sense to him as he thought that such robust connection would big enough to handle video conferences for two people working from home and the 4K videos that their child was streaming.

This 100/100Mbps home fiber internet circuit was experiencing 42ms of latency and 10% loss, more than enough to disrupt a Zoom or MS Teams call

Well, that would be true if the fiber internet connection itself was always running 100% optimally. If that were true, then yes, the 100Mbsp both ways should have no issue transferring that traffic back and forth, making all those applications run without interruption. But more than a year ago, we investigated the performance of fiber lines that our business office customers were using and discussed in our blog post,Busting the Fiber Myth: It’s not the “Silver Bullet” of Internet Connections.   

What we found was that the average fiber connection has downtime, instability, and degraded performance several times per month. More specifically, based on the data of our business office customers, we found that fiber connections:

  • Had over an hour of downtown per month on average 
  • Were unusable for an additional 50+ minutes per month, where the circuit was live, but performance (packet loss, jitter, and latency) were so bad that performance-sensitive applications like VoIP wouldn’t run
  • Experienced almost 9 hours of degraded performance each month 

This all totaled up to an average of more than 10 hours of downtime or degraded performance per month over fiber.  

For the 100/100Mbps fiber customer, Bigleaf was able to automatically protect the business application traffic so that it was prioritized over the 4K streaming video traffic; eliminating his dropped Zoom calls.

To combat all of this, for the 40% of our business customers who were using fiber last Fall, Bigleaf performed an average of 222 QoS speed adjustments on fiber circuits the month we evaluated it. This means it automatically detected and prioritized business application traffic for VoIP, UCaaS, CCaaS, and remote desktops in real-time—protecting it and ensuring uptime and application performance over the highly-variable fiber internet connections. 

As we’ve started to deploy Bigleaf Home Office, we’ve seen how this same unreliability affecting business-grade fiber lines also affects residential fiber lines—creating business application and performance issues for everyone who is currently required to work from home. Learn more about how Bigleaf Home Office can help you proactively address this unreliability and create a more effective home office.

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