While we have had access to the internet for some time now, people have changed or altered their primary usage over the past couple of decades. Video streaming is now using the most bandwidth, however this is not how the majority of people spend their time. Video streaming typically takes place in the few hours after school or work and before going to bed. However the rest of the day, the internet is used for a variety of other reasons.
Listed below are the primary uses of the internet today.
Communication – Today, outside of phone and text, the majority of our communication is completed online. This takes place in a few different methods,but use of the internet is necessary. First, electronic mail (email) is our primary method of written communication. Sending a letter through the mail is now a rare occurrence while sending an email happens hundreds of time per day and delivery is instantaneous. Also, audio and video communication happens via the internet on a regular basis as well. This allows more regular visits with family and friends that are in different cities, states or countries. It allows businesses to hold conference calls or interviews without flying everyone into a central location or having a potential employee travel for an in person interview. Ultimately, using the internet for these types of communication is much less expensive and happens much more quickly than in previous decades.
Information or Research – Many today use the internet as are search tool. This may allow them to read or understand more about a specific topic, quick search information or perhaps detailed research. Just today,listening to those around me, I have heard “who is the lead singer of The Outfield”, “what time do they close”, “what is the address”? These were all quick information grabs from the internet that would have taken much more time in the past.
Education – I put this as its own category due to the unique requirements of schools and universities. Much of the work assignments are now based on research and information from the internet, but also on-line courses, reading assignments and even class forums and interactive websites. Currently, my son is completing an on-line typing assignment for one class, math assignments from a website and is about to begin a 3D Printing class.
Social Media – The use of social media has blossomed into its own industry. Whether using Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other social media hubs, this is the way many connect with their network. There are now established on-line networks created solely through the internet. There are Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups, there are Twitter and Instagram users with millions of followers. Many today use social media as their primary means of keeping up with friends and family.
Banking – On-line banking has become widely accepted and many users now never set foot inside of their banking institutions. Funds are directly deposited in their accounts either from employers, or received on-line from various websites like PayPal and Venmo. Many banks allow users to take pictures of checks from their cell phone and deposit. Users also have the ability to pay bills on-line,without ever getting out of the house.
Work – The internet allows people to connect with their workplace remotely and complete work from their home. Using a VPN (virtual private network) connection, users can log in to their company securely and gain access to the files and information needed to work. This allows employers to offer more agility and the employees to work without the need to commute back and forth to the office.
Shopping – Using the internet, people today can research, compare and purchase almost anything without leaving the house or office. They can use websites like UberEats and Favor to bring them food, they can use Amazon to purchase items and have them shipped wherever they like, and they can shop direct to retailers for the exact product they want. For example, historically to purchase a pair of Nike shoes, the shopper would go to Foot Locker or Champs or some other retailer to purchase the new Nike AirMax. Now, just jump on the Nike website and buy exactly what you want in your size and have it shipped to you next day.
Entertainment – The entertainment industry has exploded through the internet. Online video streaming providers have become mainstream through YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and others. This type of streaming requires a larger download speed to avoid buffering. With the speeds now available in many communities, this has led to many users“cutting the cord” and eliminating their other television providers and using only these online sources. Many of the historical content providers have moved to a subscription service and are offering their content through direct purchase rather than as part of a bundle through bundling companies like the cable or dish providers. This has allowed consumers the ability toonly purchase the content of their choice rather than what happened to be included in a particular bundle.
Another entertainment use for the internet is gaming. Gaming tends to require higher levels of download and upload speeds for the games to operate as the designer intended. Typical responses from slower speeds for games are that the games are lagging or perhaps that they are glitching. Some game designers have built in the ability to operate the games at something less than optimal graphic levels. These lower levels allow the game to operate fully with less lagging, but without the higher levels of video detail.
Relationships – There are many dating and relationship websites where people can connect to others with like interests. However, there are also many sites where people with like interests can connect and share information and ideas outside of the dating sites. While many use social media for these connections, there are other sites that connect users.
Self-expression – I added this piece as I believe this outlet is important. The internet allows users to express themselves in many ways. This can be written, oral or art. I have seen several users become well-known singers, artists or writers by expressing themselves over the internet first. Again, many use the social media sites for this, however there are sites dedicated to presenting artists in their particular field. Writers, for example,might use blogs to post their thoughts and articles.
IOT (Internet of Things) – This is where everything else is compiled. In many cases, users aren’t even aware that they are utilizing the internet for these items. Whether it is a Ring doorbell, a Nest thermostat, or the new Bluetooth enables washers and dryers, all of these are using bandwidth. I heard a statement this morning that a single security system today using Bluetooth could use as many as 30 or more devices, all connected to the internet. From door and window sensors, motion detectors and security keypads, one home could have 30-50 devices connected totheir home network.
All in all, the need for higher speed connectivity and consistent internet has never been greater. More and more household items are becoming internet enabled and we, as users have become more and more dependent on the internet.