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The Fastest ISPs In the US

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the make-sure-to-tell-us-how-bad-your-isp-is-in-comments dept.

The Internet 199

adeelarshad82 writes "PCMag recently put Internet browsing speeds to the test to see which ISP was the fastest. The results were based on a quarter million tests run between May 1, 2009, and April 30, 2010, by more than 6,000 users. The tests were carried out using SurfSpeed, which takes into account the complete, real-world download time of a web page to a browser. According to the results, Verizon's FiOS took the top spot as the nation's fastest ISP, with a SurfSpeed score of 1.23 Mbps. Interestingly though, of all the regions where Verizon's FiOS is available, its dominance is only seen in the northeast and the west, whereas cable service from Cox and Comcast won out in the southern region. Moreover, cable through Cox and Optimum Online beat AT&T's fiber optic service in the nationwide results, with SurfSpeeds of 1.14Mbps, 1.12Mbps, and 1.06Mbps respectively. The worst results mostly consisted of DSL providers, bottoming out at 544 Kbps from Frontier and going up to 882Kbps by Earthlink. Other interesting facts noted in the test were that broadband penetration was highest in Rhode Island and lowest in Mississippi, while the average Internet bill was highest in Delaware and lowest in Arkansas."

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Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703246)

Is this a joke? I thought that with a fibre cable, you could get at least 10 Mbps, minimum.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (2, Insightful)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703286)

Maybe that is after the speedboost or whatever wears off. Speedboost is not a friend of gaming, in an environment where the players are the hosts, and their bandwidth is being tested quickly to determine the best host, often it is someone with speedboost type buffing.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703318)

That 10Mbps doesn't take into account limitations at the other end. Sure, you might have 10Mbps available. But if the guy you're trying to download from doesn't or if he has some lag issues then you aren't going to get 10Mbps.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704076)

Mostly it just fails to take into account that when you buy "fiber service with up to XYZ Mbps" the company is actually going to give you less than a quarter of that because they sold you a line with "UP TO" speeds.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (4, Informative)

ffejie (779512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703326)

From the article: "Keep in mind, when it comes to the speeds reported in this story, SurfSpeed takes into account the complete, real-world download time of a Web page to a browser. We're not saying your own ISP's claims of double-digit megabit-per-second (Mbps) throughputs or more are false. But those are marketing numbers, based on direct downloads from their own servers, using some abstract math like the number of users divided by the theoretical line speed. The numbers in the SurfSpeed tests compare everything you get in the download of a Web page, not just a single, contiguous file, so the numbers are smaller than the data-rate numbers quoted by your ISP. They provide an example of the real-world throughput you're experiencing when you browse and with speeds comparable to what others customers of the same ISP would get."

But we wouldn't expect you to read the article.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703436)

Sounds a little odd. How do you know the users aren't downloading multiple things at the same time? I live in Canada, and I am on the 3 mbit plan with Rogers. When I'm downloading, I almost always max it out. Others I know on faster plans are also able to max out their 5 mbit and 10 mbit connections all the tims. Maybe things are different in the US, but I really hope things are this bad.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (4, Informative)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703660)

It's not about downloading -- it's about browsing. The question is not about "how many bits can one shove through this pipe," but instead "what is a quantitative measurement of the actual speed one can expect when going clicky-clicky on links on web sites."

So instead of maximum aggregate speed (which is easy to determine with speedtest.net and the like) this "Surfspeed" figure includes latencies for things like DNS. Round-trip times. Route lookups. Geographic caching (Akamai). The time it takes for the geolocation service to figure out where you are. Hops to the host(s) in question. Congestion of those hops. How long it takes for the fucking ad servers to wake up and start spitting out ads.

Should any of that matter? Of course not. But over here in the really real world, things aren't perfect, and it all makes a difference.

Get it? It's not at all intended to be an idealized measurement of maximum throughput.

To use a car analogy: Given a selection of different vehicles of different performance characteristics, how long does it get a bushel full of DVD-R from point New Jersey to San Francisco, including refueling, maintenance, personal needs (more comfortable cars == less stopping), road conditions, weather, traffic, and dodging kids on bikes?

It's easy to come up with an idealized [yahoo.com] route and ETA. But it it's much harder to include some real data [google.com] .

And all of that theory is meaningless compared to actually measuring how long it takes a given vehicle to do that job, which is what this Surfspeed measurement tool proclaims to do.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

mr_lizard13 (882373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703510)

Fair point, but it still sucks that the figure is even that low. I honestly thought it would be much higher - here in the UK, iChoons tells me it pulls songs from the music store at about 16Mbps, and that's on what's advertised as 20Mbps.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703560)

This may come as a shock, but iTunes and SurfSpeed are not the same thing! It's almost like comparing apples to oranges doesn't give meaningful results!

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703630)

It just shows the test is awful. I have a 15mbit down connection from comcast. I max it all the time. We have comcast's 50mbit at work, and I routinely peg it too.

If I had to guess, they're completely failing to account for things like dns resolution or script load delay, so they are starting to record speed at initial page load and not stopping until every last script tag is resolved, which leads to a lot of isp-unrelated slowdown.

I would rather have a better internet connection (as in a 100mbit+ line to my house) than have anything that would improve this speedtests score. The only way you would get faster here is to do things like Opera Mobile does with a proxy doing server side compression and appending of data. Neat trick on a phone, but I'd cancel in a second if my ISP tried to mangle anything on my http connections without letting me opt out.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (2, Interesting)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704514)

Fair point, but it still sucks that the figure is even that low. I honestly thought it would be much higher - here in the UK, iChoons tells me it pulls songs from the music store at about 16Mbps, and that's on what's advertised as 20Mbps.

Would you expect a measurement of the speed of car driving through downtown on a busy day while obeying all traffic laws to be anything close to the car's maximum speed? Why would you expect a the number to be higher?

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (3, Interesting)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703666)

I have FioS @ 25/25, and I can EASILY get to that max on a normal basis:

STEAM download: ~3MB/s
ISO download from MSDN site (bizspark license): ~2.6MB/s

Clearly browsing an actual site is going to go slower, as you have to take into account a lot more things since it just isn't one large file.

However, did these results take into account video streaming? game playing, etc etc? All of those things would run well above that 2Mbps streaming HD content.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

zero0ne (1309517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703732)

Note: Just did a speedtest, and I ended up getting 25mbps down, 8mbps up... I am thinking some of those speedtest servers are getting hammered, as torrents will easily upload at 2.5MB/s+ when enough peers are connected.

(some of them were reporting me as only having 5mbps both ways)

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703676)

>>>"SurfSpeed takes into account the complete, real-world download time of a Web page to a browser."

If that's true then there's no reason for me to upgrade from dialup or DSL. My dialup uses image and text compression to achieve an equivalent web page load of 400-500 kbit/s. My DSL is 750 kbit/s. There's no reason for me to upgrade if, according to this PC World magazine, I'll only get ~1100 kbit/s in a browser
.

TRIVIA: How the US compares to other continent-sized countries/unions around the world:
Russian Federation 8.3 Mbit/s
U.S. 7.0
E.U. 6.6
Canada 5.7
Australia 5.1
China 3.0
Brazil 2.1
Mexico 1.1 Mbit/s

And if you prefer to look on a state-by-state basis of the EU, US, and Canada then you get:
1 Sweden 13 Mbit/s
2 Delaware, Romania,Netherlands,Bulgaria 12 Mbit/s
3 Washington,Rhode Island 11
4 Massachusetts 10
5 New Jersey,Virginia,New Hampshire,New York 9
6 British Columbia,Colorado,Connecticut,Arizona, Slovakia 8 Mbit/s

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704550)

If that's true then there's no reason for me to upgrade from dialup or DSL. My dialup uses image and text compression to achieve an equivalent web page load of 400-500 kbit/s. My DSL is 750 kbit/s. There's no reason for me to upgrade if, according to this PC World magazine, I'll only get ~1100 kbit/s in a browser

Assuming you don't want a 47%-175% speed increase, then no, there's no reason. If you do want a speed increase, then yes, there is.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704768)

>>>Assuming you don't want a 47%-175% speed increase

True but for me it's a matter of economics. According to the article FiOS would give me ~1200 kbit/s web surfing, which is about 1.5 times faster but the fee is around $50. That's 3 times more than what I currently pay, so I'll stick with what I've got.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32705066)

Fair enough -- lower speed but even lower price, proportionally. Of course, it should be noted that this is speed of daily browsing. You'd see much more dramatic speed increases while downloading music or the like. But if you don't do that very much, heck, I wouldn't pay $50/mo. for that either. I'm just glad rates are a lot cheaper than that where I live.

time of day (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703892)

What matters a lot is the time of day, especially on comcast. I had a comcast 12Mbs line and indeed I could get 8MB/sec in the middle of the day. but from 6pm to midnight it was normally 800kbs with bursts of twice that if you were lucky and sometimes droughts too.

Basically when I was home, so was everyone else.

What comcast does not advertise is that they will sell you an economy 1.5Mbs line for half the price of their cheapest "high speed internet". Since all you can actually get is 1Mbs if you are like me it'sall you need.
  downgrade today and get what youre paying for.

 

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703894)

But we wouldn't expect you to read the article.

I read the article, and I downloaded the program to do some tests myself.

They are testing downloads of the home pages from 10 sites with a total size of about 1.1MB. They download from each site sequentially. Of course you're going to see pretty slow speeds...the overhead for setting up the HTTP connection is large compared to the actual data transfer.

In addition, they test 9 sites that are heavy in live content (redirects, scripting that loads content, etc.): microsoft.com, aol.com, ebay.com, msn.com, yahoo.com, go.com, apple.com, myspace.com. Only one site is lean and mean (google.com, as if you couldn't guess), and of course it loads fastest by far.

Last, I wouldn't be surprised if some of these sites limit the download speed for a single connection. As long as it is "fast enough", then the user won't care, and the site could serve a lot more users with the same bandwidth.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703336)

It's for websurfing. Without having RTFA, my guess would be that they're taking things like TCP slow start [wikipedia.org] into account.

Put another way, it's not about what what you could get but rather what you do get in a realistic scenario, when browsing actual web pages rather than downloading large files.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703794)

In this case, giving the number as throughput is meaningless. Most of the time when I am browsing, I am getting 0KB/s, because I am not downloading anything when I am reading a page. Loading a largish text-only page (the current /. poll results) takes under a second. According to my network monitor, this was a tiny spike to 140KB/s. If this had been a spike half as wide at 280KB/s, it would have made absolutely no subjective difference to me. If, on the other hand, the DNS server had taken 3 seconds to respond and the round trip time to the server had been 5 seconds, this would have made a big difference even if the actual transfer had still remained the same.

Simply dividing the size of the page by the amount of time taken to fetch the page is misleading, because the size of the page is largely irrelevant to the total speed in this case. Loading a 1KB page takes almost the same amount of time as loading a 100KB page. If you want to measure the latency, give average latency figures. If you want to measure the throughput, give throughput figures.

As another example, if I go to iPlayer and click on one of their HD streams, it takes a couple of seconds to start playing, but then the network is constantly active for 1GB or more of data. I'm using far more than 1Mb/s (which is not quite enough for the SD streams) for an hour, but according to their tests my line would probably only have been rated at around 1-2Mb/s.

In my opinion, there is a lot of ISP fraud. (4, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703392)

VERY good question. QWest in Portland, Oregon is currently advertising 40 Mbps. There is, however, very fine print saying "Connection speeds are based on sync rates."

Of course, QWest knows that most people won't understand that. QWest is saying that the advertised speeds are only the speed that the customer's modem synchronizes with QWest's equipment. The actual speed that QWest supplies data over the internet can be anything QWest likes, with those fixed synchronization speeds.

The same ads call the service "Fiber Optic Fast Internet". The fine print says, "Fiber optics exists only from the neighborhood terminal to the internet." That means NOT to your house or business.

The quotes are transcribed from an ad I have on my desk.

Re:In my opinion, there is a lot of ISP fraud. (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703648)

They're doing the same thing here in Colorado, where I believe that they're based.

Re:In my opinion, there is a lot of ISP fraud. (1)

cawpin (875453) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704948)

They've also started advertising that here in the Phoenix metro area as well. I did not, however, notice the "based on sync rates" part though. It doesn't matter to me because I will never again do business with Qwest after having their service for about 6 months when I first moved here. Their customer service is the worst of ANY company I've ever dealt with. I'm now using Cox service and it is much faster and their customer service isn't nearly as horrid.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

bbn (172659) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703404)

It appears they are as much testing the speed of your computer and the internet connection of a few popular sites.

Your ISP could be selling you a 100 Mbps fiber, but only have a 50 Mbps uplink themselves and you would never know. Or more likely they have higher upstream but insufficient to provide for all customers.

So PCMag figured they would measure download from well known sites.

But it could also be that your ISP are honest guys that have plenty of upstream. Your download is limited by the well known site instead. PCMag completely fails to take this into account.

Truly, truly sad (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703420)

More than 10 years ago, I had an ADSL Internet connection with a 1.5 Mb connection speed. (384 Kbps upload) Now, some 10 years later, we still find that the *average* is only just slightly faster than 1 Mbps?

The Internetz is right - the nerds HAVE won!

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703544)

You are correct. With FiOS, you can easily get the full 15, 20, 35, or even 50 Mbps you purchase, as long as the server on the other end is fast enough.
I routinely download files at 2.5MB/s (20 Mbps), which is the speed our connection is rated for

The low FiOS score is puzzling, even though it comes out on top. My best guess is either the test simply checked which ISP owned the IP addresses so Verizon's DSL customers got counted in the FiOS results (and they're far more numerous since FiOS is still building out in most places), that the test server is just horrible, or that the test did everything right and most people have tons of spyware or sometimes even overzealous anti-virus software bogging down their connection.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703738)

I re-read the first page of the article. They're talking about web-browsing speeds, and the web is not the entire Internet.

It's not really fair to even rank ISPs this way. The way browsers actually fetch a webpage's resource has more to do with loading time than the connection speed, and as indicated on the Webkit blog (and likely on one of the Mozilla ones as well), there is much to be improved in that regard. If the speed surf program is at best just as good as a browser at fetching and loading resources, then there's room for it to improve as well.

The article also misses the point. The 15Mbps+ connections FiOS and other ISPs offer isn't for loading webpages a fraction of a second faster anyway (even dialup isn't that bad if that's all you care about). It's for downloading large files quickly, which is exactly what the existing speed tests the article belittles rank.

Re:Only 1.23 Mbps? (1)

Krazy Kanuck (1612777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703636)

1.23 is a joke, they must be sampling retired people or something. I have FIOs with fiber right to the house. 20 Mbps all the time rock solid for 4 years with no outages. I've had busts speeds in excess of 30Mbps. This is not to be confused with DSL, this is fiber with an ONT and battery backup in the garage or in a box on the side of your house.

They offer 50/25 Mbps in my area as well, but I cant' see the need. I have download in the gigs/hour range as it is.

Neat, but... (2, Interesting)

Chih (1284150) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703248)

I'm more interested in cap numbers these days

Re:Neat, but... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703706)

You mean Gigabytes per month? Ditto. It seems a more logical approach to separate the ISPs from one another.

Uhmm, surewest anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703254)

Although their rates have increased, Surewest has 1/20/50 and I THINK 100 megabit plans available, and while I don't know coverage, I do know they cover a LOT of Sacramento, overlapping ATT and Comcast, both of which offer cheaper services, but lose out when you cross the 1 megabit symmetric barrier.

Mississippi (4, Funny)

spike hay (534165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703264)

Is there any metric for which Mississippi is not the worst state?

Re:Mississippi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703282)

Is there any metric for which Mississippi is not the worst state?

Minority representation?

Re:Mississippi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703296)

I'm sure Texas or Florida must be worse than Mississippi at something; not quire sure what, though. Perhaps highest gun ownership or most old people driving?

Re:Mississippi (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703304)

Yes, where Louisianna is last.

/ Louisianna native

Re:Mississippi (5, Funny)

Evildonald (983517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703312)

They are the nation's leaders in S's and I's

Re:Mississippi (2, Funny)

ffejie (779512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703348)

U.S. States ranked by similarity of their name to the word "Mississippi":
1. Mississippi
2. All other 49 states.

Re:Mississippi (1)

Funnylikeafool (1842762) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703432)

Longest word elementary schoolers know how to spell.

Re:Mississippi (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703440)

Most Niggers

Re:Mississippi (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703532)

BBQ. Maybe not the best, but def. not last.

Re:Mississippi (1)

JDevers (83155) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703588)

Yea, definitely good BBQ to be found in the Delta...

Re:Mississippi (5, Interesting)

Mitsoid (837831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703574)

Yes, you can buy higher speed and thus invalidate the 'findings' of the article... Which is really just self-promotion with a fancy title to attract attention.

I was kinda disappointed that the article doesn't address maximum speed, or average speed amongst all "5mbps" connections, instead it lumps in DSL, Cable, and Fiber and says "HEY LoOk! Fiber is usually faster!!"

What this is really testing is "How much speed do Americans purchase, by region,"... it's just.. almost.. completely useless... except for a few statistical data points that are not frequently mentioned (broadband penetration by state).. We're comparing ISP by what the end-users paid for, as opposed to what end users CAN pay for (i.e. the limit of the technology)... or, as an alternative test, they could have tested Like-speed connections average performance across carriers, but instead they are grouping DSL, Fiber, and Cable..... and ignoring that some people pay $20 for internet while others want to pay $50 (for semi-basic home internet service) and claiming an ISP is "The best" because they have more users that spend more money on internet. (or they have less users but much higher speed to result in the same data skewing of results).

So yeah, Metrics, IMO, are mostly crap. And Mississippi can pull ahead of every state in this 'survey' simply by spending an extra $5... hell for $10 extra you can probably get speeds 5 times faster then most of the United States!

Re:Mississippi (1)

quixote9 (999874) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703708)

Exactly. Besides, if they didn't care about comparing technical apples and oranges, they could have kept the money constant. Compare the broadband speeds available for $20/mo, $50/mo, $75/mo. Plot those two parameters on a graph, and color code the points by how much competition there is in that market. Now that would have been interesting. Not surprising, but interesting.

Re:Mississippi (1)

Mitsoid (837831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703816)

Another sad bit of information ---
"Surfwhatever" program checks a pre-set list of 10 websites (microsoft.com, msn.com, go.com, apple.com, ebay.com, myspace.com)... All of which are (I checked most) california-based data/web centers.

Oh wait, Ebay came back as Denver! They should have better selected a list of web servers, (seriously, who goes to aol.com? and whats go.com?).. Looks like their list all favors California, as, I guess, the entirety of the internet exists solely in California and no where else in the world (or United States).

/hug Slashdot Chicago server.... Way to deviate from the norm!! /hug

Re:Mississippi (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703914)

Is there any metric for which Mississippi is not the worst state?

Canned Possum consumption. Georgia takes it by a country mile.

Re:Mississippi (1)

Ex-MislTech (557759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704628)

Oklahoma is the worst in state government corruption.

Thou Louisiana will contest this, naturally...

I don't get it.. (1)

matthiasvegh (1800634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703272)

So what's the relation between actual network throughput and "SurfSpeed score"? Cause I think we can all agree 1.23Mbps is apalling..

Re:I don't get it.. (1)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703380)

Yeah, I get 10Mbps with Charter. I think they might offer a 1Mbps service, but who would pay for 1 Mbps cable internet and how is the average under that? Most people I know living around here get the 5 Mbps service.

Browsing speed? (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703274)

I would rather measure the available bandwidth with, say, google services, network latency and a few round trip timings with known hosts.
This sounds more serious to me than anything else.

ATTENTION SHOPPERS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703314)

ATTENTION SHOPPERS: PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE NECROTIC DOG PENIS. I REPEAT, PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE NECROTIC DOG PENIS CURRENTLY LOOMING OUTSIDE LOT 4. CONTINUE SHOPPING BUT PLEASE ENSURE YOU LEAVE VIA AN ALTERNATIVE EXIT AS WE ARE NO LONGER ABLE TO GUARANTEE YOUR SAFETY IN LOT 4, DUE TO THE NECROTIC DOG PENIS. FOR YOUR INFORMATION, LOTS 1, 2, 3, 5 AND 6 ARE CURRENTLY FREE OF BAYING NECROTIC DOG PENIS. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE NECROTIC DOG PENIS. THANK YOU.

I said goodbye to speakeasy this year (3, Interesting)

t0qer (230538) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703322)

Even though Speakeasy was slashdot recommended, a lot of my geek friends used it, I had to cut them this year.

I never got the advertised speed out of them for what I was paying. My business was close to the CO, but when I'd complain their answer would always be "Replace the wire going from the pole into your building"

Why should I have to do that? I'm old, I hurt when I fall. NO thanks.

So after 6 years with SE, I called up Comcast. They sent an installer who made sure everything was working right. My speeds were out of sight, 20mbps down and 5mbps up. My bill is $20@mo less too.

DSL can compete, but they have to give up a little margin for better customer service.

Re:I said goodbye to speakeasy this year (1)

technomancerX (86975) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703470)

I'll keep my Speakeasy thanks. I've had it for several years, am always at least in the ballpark of my rated speeds, and have had a grand total of about 8 hours of downtime. A friend of mine has Comcast cable and his service goes down all the time. He's actually had to argue with Comcast to convince them his service is down, then wait days for the problem to be fixed. Pass. I work from home and need my connection to be reliable.

Comcast can't even get my TV cards to work consistently, I really don't want them anywhere near my internet.

speakeasy are LIARS (3, Informative)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704304)

They say "unlimited", then they kick you out if you actually dare to download more than 100G. And they lie about it in pre-sales: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/76331293/ [flickr.com]

Re:I said goodbye to speakeasy this year (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704138)

Out of sight speed just means the monthly cap is staring you in the face.

SpeakEasy sucks ass anyway - total liars (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704314)

They claim "unlimited", then they kick you out if you actually dare to download more than 100G in a month. And they lie about it in pre-sales: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/76331293/ [flickr.com] -- And oh, they threatened me with a $300 early termination fee for THEM terminating ME, they told me they'd waive it only if I didn't talk about it online. Hah.

Re:I said goodbye to speakeasy this year (1)

dpiven (518007) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704598)

(Disclaimer: I've been a Speakeasy customer for ten years.)

I never got the advertised speed out of them for what I was paying. My business was close to the CO, but when I'd complain their answer would always be "Replace the wire going from the pole into your building"

Why should I have to do that? I'm old, I hurt when I fall. NO thanks.

Your responsibility for wiring ends at your NID; if there's a problem on the telco side of the NID, it's the telco's responsibility to deal with it (because they own all the wiring up to your NID). The Speakeasy rep probably shouldn't have recommended you haul out the ladder; he should have suggested you call your telco and have them check their line.

You don't mention what percentage of "advertised speed" you actually get, so I can't really comment on whether you have a valid complaint. ADSL circuits are almost always spec'ed as "best effort", and there is no guarantee at all that your circuit will perform at that speed. If your line is such that it comes nowhere near the advertised speed, the DSL provider will generally be willing to downgrade your package to match your observed speed. (Or you can nag the telco to fix your line.)

(My current circuit is spec'ed as a 6.0/1.5, which is pretty much what I observe, despite my being 9500' from my CO.)

Re:I said goodbye to speakeasy this year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32704962)

> Why should I have to do that?

Because you can get things to work properly with defective parts?

I'm also on Speakeasy and I have been for years now. I run my line at a nearly constant 80-90% utilization (it did get a little bit unstable at 100%, so I throttled it back a bit). I have great uptime and the few service outages have been due to lightning hitting a repeater, which they were able to replace pretty quickly.

I did have one long period of intermittancy, but the support reps kept the ticket open for several weeks and worked with me to run all kinds of tests, until we could finally isolate the problem and get the phone company to fix it (the Speakeasy rep was pushing for a solution, but the phone company kept saying it wasn't them, until we proved them wrong). And even then, I wasn't down the whole time (and I got a service credit without having to ask for one).

But I'll also say that they're a bit more expensive than other services I could get. Still, you get what you pay for. And I'd rather pay for a service that's run by competent people.

Fuck Comcast (1, Offtopic)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703340)

I came just to say this.

Latency more important than bandwidth (2, Insightful)

kelarius (947816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703362)

Any more I find network latency to be alot more important to me than the actual throughput of my connection. Being able to use my remote service software without as much lag is proving to be more useful to me than being able to download all the porn on the internet at 20 Mbps. I am quite happy with my current provider for that.

Re:Latency more important than bandwidth (1)

ProfanityHead (198878) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703514)

Any more I find network latency to be alot more important to me than the actual throughput of my connection. Being able to use my remote service software without as much lag is proving to be more useful to me than being able to download all the porn on the internet at 20 Mbps. I am quite happy with my current provider for that.

Thank you for saying this. I constantly tell people here that their speed doesn't mean crap if their latency, or real speed, is bad. They look at me like I'm on crack. Packet loss is another issue and it's ruining my Netflix streaming fun.

Re:Latency more important than bandwidth (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703610)

> Thank you for saying this. I constantly tell people here that their speed
> doesn't mean crap if their latency, or real speed, is bad.

You are also oversimplifying. Both speed and latency (which is not "real speed") matter. Which matters most depends on the specific situation. When I'm downloading a Linux distribution I want throughput. I rarely care much about latency, but for gamers it's critical.

Re:Latency more important than bandwidth (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704552)

When I'm downloading a Linux distribution I want throughput.

'Why people think "performace" means "throughput" is something I'll never understand. Throughput is _always_ secondary to latency, and really only becomes interesting when it becomes a latency number (ie "I need higher throughput in order to process these jobs in 4 hours instead of 8" - notice how the real issue was again about _latency_).'

-- Linus Torvalds

Re:Latency more important than bandwidth (3, Informative)

raddan (519638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703776)

It really depends on the application. I recently went over this as we surveyed the network capabilities of 450 of our field reps in order to determine whether doing virtual meetings was feasible, i.e., something like WebEx. With an application like WebEx, once you meet the minimum bandwidth requirements (roughly 700Kbps down and 300Kbps up for the kinds of meetings we were looking to do), latency is indeed the most important factor. Call quality deteriorates fast when you're looking at 100ms or greater RTT. WebEx also will "fail" into using TCP if it cannot establish a UDP connection, which means that it suffers horribly on wireless connections, where dropped packets are common.

But other protocols, e.g., rsync, which was specifically designed to avoid RTT costs, perform quite well on high-latency network connections, by minimizing round-trip communication. In that case, bandwidth is the most important measure.

BTW, our survey showed Verizon coming out on top by a hefty margin. On average, FiOS users got about 15Mbit down, 7.5Mbit up, and under 10ms latency, with some being quite a bit higher. Of course, offices with Cogent fibre connections trashed everybody, but that's not really surprising-- our test site was running on Cogent, too.

"SurfSpeed" not a measure of bandwidth (4, Interesting)

Josh Triplett (874994) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703410)

Despite using bandwidth units (Mbps), their "SurfSpeed" "benchmark" actually depends heavily on latency, as it tries to simulate a web browser fetching resources sequentially from a site as it discovers them.

Found this report analyzing the article and the benchmark: http://blog.ookla.com/2010/06/23/the-fastest-isps-not-quite/ [ookla.com]

Re:"SurfSpeed" not a measure of bandwidth (1)

decoy256 (1335427) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703772)

Also, what are all the variables they are taking into account? If I have a screaming fast ISP, but the server I'm connecting to is hosted on some dog slow server, then the site is going to slow me down. It's not my ISP's fault, it's the site I'm visiting. Do they account for this and filter out the server's speed?

Re:"SurfSpeed" not a measure of bandwidth (3, Interesting)

Josh Triplett (874994) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704222)

According to the article I linked to, they access a grand total of 10 sites: microsoft.com, aol.com, ebay.com, msn.com, google.com, yahoo.com, mapquest.com, go.com, apple.com, and myspace.com.

On the one hand, I'd expect none of those sites to have a slower connection than any consumer ISP. (Some sites with large files such as video sites will throttle for bandwidth reasons, but no sane site throttles HTML and similar; better to just serve the files quickly and close the connection.)

On the other hand, that doesn't look like a particularly representative sample of "top" sites. Who uses mapquest anymore? And how often does the average user visit microsoft.com or apple.com? (As opposed to msn.com or live.com, which seem somewhat more likely for regular visits. Windows Update doesn't count, since *hopefully* that gets much more non-interactive use than interactive use. Similarly for the various Apple services, which don't necessarily live on the same server as apple.com.)

But in any case, the bandwidth of the server will matter less to SurfSpeed than the latency of responding to each request quickly so it can start the next one.

The concept of a benchmark for real-world site load times seems perfectly reasonable, but it should not have a misleading unit of "Mbps". A better idea: measure the total number of milliseconds required for page loads during some representative real-world browsing paths (*not* just site front pages either).

Re:"SurfSpeed" not a measure of bandwidth (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704834)

The thing about real world experience is that the only way to measure it is to make it real world. If we are fetching resources from a web site, part of that process is rendering. For instance, i would expect slashdot to load in a few hundred milliseconds based on data size, with a couple seconds to render. This leads to the three second observed time to load. Pages with complex scripts are going to render even slower. What this means is that for anyone on DSL or cable, one would likely do better to switch to opera rather than pay more for bandwidth.

What would be effected by the higher speeds is the time to download an album from iTunes or Amazon, the time to load a Netflix movie, the time to load a Hulu video, the time to download a Youtube video. Of course these number would name and shame companies that don't keep up competing infrastructure, and would be more likely to cost them advertising.

This reminds me of all the computer benchmarks that PC mag does. Sure they sell magazines, but really simply serve to misinform the public.

Optimum 100Mbps (1)

KingHuds (1093987) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703430)

So my 100Mbps line only gets around 1.12 Mbps? Or did the just have a terrible sample size?

Re:Optimum 100Mbps (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703524)

There are probably more people on dialup in the US than consumer 100Mbps internet connections. Of the six thousand in the sample, what would be representative... one?

FIOS not all that? (1)

RenQuanta (3274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703434)

This is interesting, considering the ad-hoc testing I did recently. I'm a Comcast customer in northern De, and DSL reports' speed test consistently gives me about 8Mbps down bs 1-2Mbps up.

My parents, I. Southeast PA, have FIOS. For giggles, I did the same DSL reports test, and got about the same results.

Do any other slashdotters have similar experiences?

Re:FIOS not all that? (1)

lavacano201014 (999580) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703522)

I ran SpeedTests [speedtest.net] from me to various servers (to get the best comparison rates) and I get what Verizon's telling me I'm supposed to be getting - 25 mbps down, 10-15 up.

DSL Reports gives me less, but then again I never bothered to shut down Steam, Hamachi, etc.

If it makes a difference, I download from Steam at a max of 3 MB/sec (that's megabytes), so I think I'm getting my 25 mbps (megabits)

Re:FIOS not all that? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703534)

Regular speed tests are useless with comcast. Speedboost skews the results.

6,000 SurfSpeed Users (3, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703448)

I would like to know how much more spam they are getting now. Nice data harvester. I knew the article was a fraud when it said,"...cable and phone companies compete to provide fast connections..." What they possibly compete for are exclusive franchises.

I bet if you block the ad servers, your speed would double

Re:6,000 SurfSpeed Users (1)

Mitsoid (837831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703680)

I actually signed up as First/Last Name "Unsolicited mail" with my mailing address set to the FTC Building in Washington DC. (To my knowledge, I was not given a check-box that allowed me to opt-out/in on communication)

Using my spam-catching e-mail address hosted by hotmail for all my "never check this address again" needs.

Ad blocking (1)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703698)

I noticed that web pages were loading the info-line at the bottom of my browser was going out to an ad server. The page would not load hardly anything until the ad server finished. So I installed an ad blocker and the speed to load a page increased quite a bit. There are some web sites I support and I give them a pass and let their ads come through.

My Frontier DSL is the worst provider in the US (1)

lalena (1221394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703468)

Oh wait, I already knew th <carrier disconnected>

Websites? Latency? (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703472)

I'm having trouble believing that this test is useful for anything, if I'm understanding their methodology.

They should be giving TOTAL TIME to download a web page and all its assets, including DNS lookups. That's the only measurement that matters for web browsing.

Transfer rate is such a small importance to most people -- as an example, their slowest transfer rate (Frontier DSL) would download one of their ~21KB review pages in about 31ms. Their fastest (Verizon FIOS)? About 14ms. The difference is negligible, and I bet most people will take far longer to perform DNS lookups and initiate the connection than it takes to actually transmit the data. Transfer rate is not the right measurement.

Re:Websites? Latency? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703538)

It's messed up anyway. Web browsing isn't a useful metric for measuring internet speed on broadband. We need HD quality real time video streams that are large enough to negate any benefit added by speedbooster.

Re:Websites? Latency? (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703614)

They weren't trying to measure all facets of internet speed on broadband. If I misunderstood and that actually was their intention, I agree there are even more holes in their methodology. From TFS:

put internet browsing speeds to the test

Re:Websites? Latency? (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703650)

Their speeds appear to be based upon not the sustained transfer rate but a normalized rate that incorporates the DNS lookup(s), latency, etc. into the calculation

On a side note, for those stuck with Crapcast (TM), at least those in the Twin Cities area you can achieve substantially snappier web browsing if you replace their DNS server with something decent. Of which there are plenty of free DNS server providers such as OpenDNS [opendns.com] among others.

Re:Websites? Latency? (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703822)

Given the total time to measure a single web page is useless because the sample set would be very small (one web page? really?). Increasing the sample size, however, results in too much data: Suppose it tests 50 web sites. And suppose there are 20 ISPs tested. 50*20=1000, which is way too fucking many data points for layfolk to digest.

Besides, web sites change. They aren't static things. One day it might be big, the next it might be small. Ads rotate. If they were just measuring time, then the data would be mostly useless later.

So: By applying a very small amount of math, they get to include latencies for DNS lookups and such, and reduce the dataset to a single, easy-to-digest number. While I agree that using megabits-per-second is confusing to most, I'm really not sure that using some invented metric ("Surfmarks" or somesuch) would be an improvement in honesty, though doing so probably would keep such pedants as yourself happier.

You have to be kidding! (1)

BadDoggie (145310) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703492)

People are proud of a 1Mb connection? What's the latency? Even here in Germany a provider would be ashamed to show his face if he couldn't do at least four times that for a fucking rural area!

A year and a half ago, 100 times that speed was considered good [slashdot.org] and in a year and a half from now Korea expects to have ONE THOUSAND times that fucking speed. I know people in US states who can still only connect with a fucking 33.6Kbaud modem.

Re:You have to be kidding! (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703586)

> People are proud of a 1Mb connection?

They aren't measuring the bandwidth of the connection. They are measuring the average download rate from a bunch of Web sites, including DNS lookups, server bandwidth, etc. Not particularly useful.

Re:You have to be kidding! (1)

drijen (919269) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704928)

U.S. ISPS need to be shot.
I am currently sitting on a couch in LaCygne, Kansas. Looking out the window, I can see the place where the fiber (yeah fiber, in a rural area) terminates if I look out the window.

Now guess what the speed is. Go ahead, guess.









512 KBits/320KBits.
/
Back home in Texas, my Verizon DLS (non FIOS), is 1.5MBit/384KBit for $30/month. In other words, I can upload from home faster than I can download here in Texas.
/
Now guess how much the Kansas line costs a month. Go ahead and guess.









$60/month.
Its all a scam, and there is no basis for it. Greed, pure and simple.

They should test P2P (1)

jprupp (697660) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703536)

I'm currently in Switzerland. And I can assure that ISPs here don't give a rat's ass about neutrality. Most have nice HTTP speeds, but suck at everything else, especially P2P. I wish someone goes about measuring speed including non-HTTP traffic in all the planet if possible. I'm sure many in America would agree.

What difference does speed matter.. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703608)

When you have a cap? ( or worse cap + overage charge ) It just means you get there faster.

OMG. (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703656)

I live on Brazil, a Third-world country. And i have a working 3Mbps download / 1Mbps upload. Houston, the north-americans have a problem!

Re:OMG. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32703940)

And apparently Brazillians can't RTFA.

Re:OMG. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703974)

> Houston, the north-americans have a problem!

Read the article. They did not measure bandwidth. They measured the average rate at which a bunch of Web pages could be dwonloaded, including DNS lookups, latency, waiting for slow ad servers, etc.

Delaware most epensive (1)

bwave (871010) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703688)

No kidding on that, only 1 choice (other than cell providers) and that's Comcast, and it costs me $67.xx for 8to12mbps/3mbps service. I'm not really worried about speed at home, just wish cheaper, I'd be happy with a 3mbps service for $19.95 if someone offered it. I just use it to remotely log into servers, check security cameras, read slashdot. (ie. surf porn) Meanwhile across the border in MD, I get Comcast Business for $74.95 and get 32mbps/8mbps service. So 4 times faster for $7 more a month. (and no business class isn't available at my home)

Did we take into account all the BitTorrent.... (1)

seanvaandering (604658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703710)

Did we take into account all the bittorrent clients flooding the upstream and choking the downstream? No? O'Rly!

TCP slow start + RTT ? (1)

ZyBex (793975) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703774)

They must have measured the time it takes since the browser makes the request until you get the full page back... that's why they got such low numbers. So, they ignore things like RTT and TCP Slow Start. We're not talking about sync speed here.

(No, I didn't RTFA)

Re:TCP slow start + RTT ? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32704082)

They purport to have measured "browsing speed".

One way to see if you're getting what you should.. (2, Interesting)

moxley (895517) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703800)

As everyone has pointed out, this test in this article really isn't measuring the bandwidth that your ISP is providing; it's like saying "let's see how fast you can run - oh, by the way, you'll be wearing this heavy backpack, dodging traffic." They say it's real world surf performance, but there are so many variables at work here that it really isn;t a very useful metric.

You can use the JAVA or Flash based speed tests at places like www.broadbandreports.com (which is a great site BTW if you aren't familiar for it) those tests are fairly accurate - but not always.

The best, most accurate way I have found to test whether I am getting the speeds I am supposed to, is to use newsleecher and download a bunch of binaries from my premium newsgroup provider. I use Giganews, and I have been really happy with them, but I assume the other top tier newsgroup providers are similar..... With most premium news providers, you get multiple connections and most of the good ones can max out your connection at anytime, provided you are using multiple connections.

I'm sure that most people here know this, but if not: - to figure out if you're getting what you're supposed to, once you're as certain as you can be that you are maxing out your connection, take youy average download speed in megabytes and multiply it by 8.

I live in Philly and have a 22 megabit at home, and 50 megabit at work.

When downloading at home I get about 2.8 megabytes/sec.....when downloading at work I get about 6.2 megabits per second.......so 2.8 x 8 = 22.4 and 6.2 x 8 = 49.6 So all is well...if I notice that something seems to be off, or slow - the first thing I do is queue up some binaries and check....

Incompetent review, once again. (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703818)

The reality is that no one is experiencing speeds anywhere near to what their ISP claims to offer, at least not when it comes to Web surfing. This isn't entirely the ISP's fault. The ISP's claimed throughput rates are for sustained downloads of an individual file. Web pages are typically made up of several files: the HTML code, graphics, Flash elements, and so forth. For each file, there's latency, essentially the time it takes from when your computer requests the element and when the Web site's server starts sending it to you. And then there are all the vagaries of the Internet as data from the Web site hops from router to router down to your computer. This is why, when ISPs advertise download speeds, they're only referring to downloads directly from their own servers.

The claimed throughput rates are generally a maximum and may include a burst maximum. The maximum can be reached on a file that is a few hundred KB as are many components of modern over-loaded websites. The real problem here isn't this phantom "latency" as latency isn't calculated into speed determination. That may affect very slightly your browsing experience, unless you're connecting to a server on the other side of the planet. The last bit here is also completely incorrect.

The internet isn't just a "pay for a speed and you get it everywhere" device. Your ISP sells you a connection which has a maximum of X Mbps. When you request some file from some remote server, how fast you get it is determined in part by your connection speed, but also by the speed at which the server is willing to or is capable of sending it. I have 10Mbps which I verify as I consistently download at 1100+ KB/s. But I often find downloading files (be it large images, installers, or even other web related files) from various web hosts at anywhere from 20KB/s to 250KB/s, I rarely find one that's willing to go over 300. It's not your connection that's at fault, it's the bandwidth limit set by the server itself. The added latency on a badly built website may be ~100-200 ms, and for web browsing this is completely acceptable. What's not acceptable is when you connect to a webpage that may require ~1MB of data to be downloaded for rendering to be complete when the server won't serve you more than 50KB/s, in that case it can take up to 20-30 seconds and appear "slow."

Run a bandwidth test at a place like www.speedtest.net. It'll test it with a server that has a very large bandwidth and with a transfer that'll be uncapped. If the speed there, to a server most likely not owned by your ISP, matches or exceeds your ISP's advertisement, then you're fine. If it doesn't, consistently, you're being screwed. Don't base "my internet connection is slow" complaints on the fact that websites and files aren't being downloaded at an insane speed like you expect.

Meanwhile.... (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703868)

I live in Japan. /wins

(On a serious note, I get ADSL 50Mbps for about $60 a month in a small Japanese city. I could also get a fiber connection if I wanted to for slightly more)

Is there only speed? (1)

Cigaes (714444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32703922)

Speed? Is speed the only criterion to judge an ISP? I do not think so. Provided the speed is reasonable, with regards to the price and other similar offers, there are a lot more things that matter for an ISP. A few at random:
- How often do their systems break down and leave you without network access?
- If a router breaks down at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning, do you have to wait until 9 a.m. on Monday to hope someone will fix it?
- And do you have any information during or after the breakdown, or are you left wondering it it will happen again any moment?
- If you call the hotline, do you get a nice music and an incompetent droid reading a checklist, or a competent technician?
- Do they offer cool services, like native IPv6 or reverse-DNS customization (and IPv6 reverse-DNS delegation)?
- Can you get someone's attention for unusual problems, like your IP range getting into a spam blacklist?

As for me, I am happy to pay a little more and have a little less max bandwidth to be on the good side for most of these points.

I concur... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32704040)

....FIOS is the ballz.

In the "old days" I would download ISOs and service packs at the client site. Now, I download them at home because *my* connection is worlds faster than their "business class" DSL.

Singapore deploying gigabit to homes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32705054)

The governmnet of singapore is rolling out gigabit-to-the-home everywhere in singapore, as well as wifi everywhere.

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