The internet infrastructure in most developed countries are where they need to be to support the various activities that people do over the Internet — browsing images, watching videos, downloading content and so on. All these are a breeze for 4G and gigabit internet connections. However, some parts of the world are still running on 2G and Facebook wants people to keep this in mind with the introduction of 2G Tuesdays.
In conjunction with its Free Basics program, which aims to provide free Internet access for people in remote areas of the globe, Facebook launched 2G Tuesdays to let its own employees experience accessing their social media account while running on 2G speeds. Every Tuesday, employees will be asked hrough a popup whether they want to try browsing Facebook with their connection with limited speeds.
"On Tuesdays employees will get a pop-up that gives them the option to simulate a 2G connection," writes Chris Marra, Facebook product manager. "We hope this will help us understand how people with 2G connectivity use our product, so we can address issues and pain points in future builds."
Marra noted that while previous tools such as Connection Class and Augmented Traffic Control gave developers the ability to account for and simulate poor network conditions, both do not address the day-to-day decision-making on how a product should look or function. Moreover, the product manager sees 2G Tuesdays as a way for employees to seamlessly empathize with those who are accessing the social media portal with connections as slow as 2G and hence, bring the team "a step closer" to helping everyone access Facebook smoothly.
For those that have forgotten or have not experienced browsing on 2G bands, 2G — not EDGE — allows for a maximum speed of 50 kilobits per second. In practice, however, users will only get to use around 40 kilobits per second.
Notice that it uses "bits", which is an eighth of a byte. Converting it to kilobytes, we get 5 KB (kilobytes). It would take 10 minutes to download an average MP3 file at 3 MB on a 2G connection. It's that slow and a lot of regions, especially in developing countries, in the world only have 2G bands available.
Photo: Phil Denton | Flickr