Can Internet service providers really give 2Gbps?

Last Saturday's report ("New round of broadband battle begins") raises some questions: Do subscribers know what they are buying?

Are Internet service providers transparent about what they are selling?

On one service provider's product page, it states that: "Each wired connection on the modem/router, and on the third-party router, cannot go beyond 1Gbps.

"However, the combined total bandwidth of all devices in your household is 2Gbps."

However, the 2Gbps bandwidth advertised is the wide area network (WAN) bandwidth, in other words, bandwidth from the home router to the service provider's switches.

The home router sits between the WAN and our home local area network (LAN). To fully utilise the advertised bandwidth, the router must be able to achieve a WAN-to-LAN (download) or LAN-to-WAN (upload) routing throughput of 2Gbps.

Otherwise, it becomes a bottleneck, and the 2Gbps bandwidth never materialises, no matter how many devices you connect to your router.

The most recent performance figures of home routers from indicate that both the download and upload throughputs of even the top-performing router do not exceed 1Gbps, or less than half of the advertised bandwidth.

So, are subscribers being sold a lemon without realising it?

Teo Hong Siang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline 'Can Internet service providers really give 2Gbps?'. Print Edition | Subscribe