Internet speed, more precisely how fast you can download and how much bandwidth you have, is king in modern tech. Streaming services like Netflix and Spotify are now commonplace. Even ordinary household appliances now have their internet connection. With this is mind, VR streaming will likely be a part of the Virtual Reality Ecosystem. However, is our broadband in Singapore up to the task?
VR living and dying on Broadband
While most discussions surrounding how successful VR will be concerns cost and content, streaming has also been brought up. Android Headlines published an article on 28 September arguing that the current state of US broadband is not sufficient to support Virtual Reality. Now, this is the United States of America, so how accurate is it hold for Singapore? After all, we have one of the best download speeds in the world.
To make sense of this, we need to understand the minimum requirements for VR streaming. We do not have hard figures, but let’s assume that they are similar to the requirements for 4K streaming. After all, the resolution needed for a good VR experience is about the same. UK-based Recombu published an article back in 2014 which puts the minimum extra broadband capacity at 15-20Mbps. That is not total, that is how much you need on top of what you already use. For a modern household of about four, all are using the internet, plus various internet-enabled devices, that is a serious amount.
The state of Singapore Broadband
As of the third quarter of last year, Singapore average bandwidth was 12Mbps according to Akamai. This puts us at 10th worldwide, and above the global average of 5.6 Mbps. While that is a good bandwidth for everyday usage, it’s far from enough. However, that is just the average. Singapore has one of the highest average peak downloads worldwide, at 135 Mbps. So there is a very broad spectrum of bandwidths. For example, our office is sitting at a tidy 96Mbps average download and equivalent upload. My home connection, however, is significantly lower than that.
Broadband providers do have the fabled 1Gb/ps bandwidth option, however, and there are plenty to choose from. However, the cheapest option with MyRepublic is still S$50 a month. When already spending a lot just on installation, that is a lot to have access to a primary feature. However, if you are a serious gamer you probably already have considered getting the 1Gbps connection. Maybe this would tip the balance.
Of course, not all VR experiences will be streamed, as some can be downloaded first. Keep in mind though that the PlayStation Pro only supports 4K streaming, not 4K Blu-ray, and both the Rift and Vive have online stores. Streaming will be a major part of the VR experience, one way or another.