I Downgraded My Internet (12Mbps → 3Mbps) To Save Time

I downgraded. It wasn’t about saving a few bucks ($7 per month), though that helps over time considering I plan to live where I currently live for the foreseeable future with an Internet connection. No, it was about squandering a lot of precious time.

With 12Mbps, which isn’t really all that fast compared to the $20 per month 100Mbps connections that are the norm in South Korea, I downloaded and/or watched a lot of videos on Hulu, Vimeo, YouTube, etc. Fun and interesting videos, but videos I didn’t have to watch. Videos that wasted my time. With 12Mbps I downloaded a lot of other stuff I didn’t really need, but downloaded them anyway because it didn’t take that much time. I got habituated to the speed. Streamed videos came down the pipe fast enough I didn’t have to wait at all before pushing the play button. That was cool. The blue pulsing progress bars in iTunes raced toward the right as apps pop pop popped on my MacBook Pro. I downloaded a lot of apps and a lot of them I’ve never synced to my iPhone.

I used to have 3Mbps six months ago. AT&T U-verse had a deal: If you upgraded to a faster plan AT&T gave you a discount for six months. That six months will be up at the end of this month so instead of paying more (the regular price) for the faster pipe I decided to downgrade.

I thought, like many of us, a faster Internet connection would save me time. I wouldn’t have to wait for streamed videos. Apps, music, and software updates would download faster. Instead, what really happened was a lot of time got wasted doing things I wouldn’t have done if I had a slower pipe to the Internet. I ended up wasting a lot of time with a faster connection. Ironic, isn’t it? With a slower Internet connection I want to be more mindful of what I do on the Internet, save a few bucks while I’m at it, and to save a lot of what is most precious: time.

Update 2012.02.17:

It’s been about two months since I downgraded to 3Mbps. It wasn’t too painful. Big software updates took quite a bit longer. And I don’t watch movie trailers as often; it’s not fun when the trailer stops to buffer half a dozen times. In general I’ve been doing less things that waste my time so that’s a good thing and exactly what I wanted to accomplish. I saved some coin too from paying $45 to $38. Not a whole lot but after a year the savings add up to $84. But recently I’ve been thinking.

We have a landline and connected to it a phone, the kind that doesn’t need a battery. My wife and I agreed that it would be good to have in case of a power outage. We correctly assumed that we wouldn’t be using the landline all that much and so had the cheaper metered service. Well, it hasn’t been all that cheap and my distaste toward AT&T grew every time I got the bill. With a dozen or so incomprehensible tax items the total was around $27 per month. That’s expensive power outage insurance. So I started looking.

I wanted a better deal and luckily there was Sonic.net with an unbelievable offer. The offer is a 20Mbps Internet connection and an unlimited long distance POTS for $40, $50 with taxes. I knew going in the connection would be closer to 1.5Mbps, and I was right: I’m getting 1.2Mbps. I’m also happier because I use the landline phone, with almost zero electronic radiation, more often and for long conversations. The connection stability as well as audio quality is so much better than using a mobile phone. But there is one thing going down to 1.2Mbps: YouTube videos stall from time to time. With Jeremy Lin doing his thing and the fact that we don’t have any TV service, the frequent video stalls aren’t sitting well with my wife. I’m hoping Lin continues to do well, but it won’t last forever, so I’m not worried, too much. Aside from that one exceptional niggle, the 1.2Mbps pipe serves 99% of our needs and starting this month we are saving quite a bit on our phone and Internet services, reducing our radiation exposure from our mobile phones, and spending less time doing things that waste our time.

Oh yes, I almost forgot: The reason why I decided to update this post. Stuart Miles, Pocket-lint:

Apple has confirmed that the next version of its desktop operating system, OS X Mountain Lion, will be available to customers only via the Mac App Store when it comes out this summer.

It will take a long time for me to upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion, if I try it at home. OS X 10.7 Lion was about 3.7GB. I’m assuming Mountain Lion will be smaller just like Snow Leopard was compared to Leopard. So let’s say 2GB. Can you imagine downloading 2GB on a 1.2Mbps pipe? I don’t want to, so when the time comes I will go to a friend’s house with a much faster Internet connection or to a nearby Apple Store. Wouldn’t it be nice if Apple Stores had FireWire 800 or Thunderbolt external drives, to quickly transfer the Mountain Lion install file to our Macs?