How today's internet use worked or not worked was something I wanted to know recently too as it seem was the case in other recent articles online going around. So, I network speed shaped my own connection to 56K, 108K, 128K, 256K, 512K and 1MB in a symmetric D/U ratio. The answers are:
- 56K: Nothing works as it should. You can only browse with Lynx or a Mobile Browser emulation that will still be incredibly slow. Apps you can connect to? IM, IRC, E-mail, RSS (no photos) if you use an app for them. No media content whatsoever can be streamed no matter how low the quality. You cannot upload anything as uploading now times out.
-108K: Same as with 56K. No difference.
- 128K: Same as with 56K. No difference.
256K: Same as with 56K, Only that for doing those same things now all feels fast.
512K: You can then browse with a mobile Browser emulation and have it to be bearable even with it loading the images. Browsing with a desktop browser is very slow but fine if you don't mind that websites will never stop loading or load up broken because of HD-ready image assets. You can only have 1 or 2 tabs open because of how some sites got updating content in them even if you don't see it. You can now enjoy 240p quality YouTube videos with the Flash based player if you leave them to buffer for 30 seconds before starting to watch. What you can do normally in 3minutes will take you 15mins at this speed.
-1MB: Apparently the very minimum passable Internet speed for 2015 IF it is symmetric in its D/U ratio. You can now browse normally even if it will be slow and you can only really have up to 5 tabs open. You can do normal web based and app based SM, IM, IRC, RSS and E-mail. YouTube in 360p is now possible. Even if it will still work better on the flash based player than the HTML5 one. 480p possible if you leave it buffering on the YouTube flash-based player for as much as it can buffer. 720p and up is of course most of the time impossible. Soundclound, Deezer, Spotify, Grooveshark, etc are now perfectly usable too. You can also use your social networks and blog providers normally and even upload photos and audio to them normally. The same is true to any cloud storage provider. Even Netflix and Hulu work if you don't mind they giving an almost unwatchable video quality. There is however internet usage still out of limits: PSN and Xbox Live. You would find they just connect and disconnect constantly.
Conclusions from this experiment?
Any internet speed below 5MB down - 1MB up will not be enough to experience the apps and websites and supplemental internet use in your house the way they should be experienced. And in this experiment I didn't even took in count the scenarios of a multi-user environment.. But needless to say bandwidth would be quite limited if there are more than 2 users at a time on a 5MB/1MB connection.
I think that the only positive thing from this experiment is that no matter how data heavy content, web sites and usage gets. The essential utilitarian uses for the internet still work as fine as they did 20 years ago.