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56k Times Five: Myth Or Moneymaker?

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the sounds-like-a-fair-bargain-to-me dept.

The Internet 529

maxentius writes " has an article on not-broadband-but-still-faster telephone internet access premiering soon in more than one commercial ISP venue. Compression and other techniques will improve speed by up to five times, so they say. Hi-tech or hogwash?"

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IN SOVIET RUSSIA (621411) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600181)

56k Times You!

Vichy French Cowards (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600232)

I know why those frog bastards refuse to save the poor Iraqi people, because they loved being under the control of a ruthless dictator and told ficticious stories of thei brave resistance. Euro-Trash Scum. We are coming to Paris next to topple that ugly tower.

Rob Malda and his Boy Scout friends (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600272)

Rob likes to take the local Boy Scout Troop camping. They play fun games like "hide the sausage" and "pitch the tent pole" If they are really good they can even share his sleeping bag.

well this is good (-1)

neo8750 (566137) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600184)

because i know a few people who go to my school who would kill if this actually works like they say it does....FP

Re:well this is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600215)

Hogwash. Because of the abundance of old infrastructure, telephone lines are limited to about 3KHz of bandwidth; by Shannon's law, this amounts to a channel capacity of just about 56k. As this is a theoretical limit, no amount of fancy compression can exceed it. There's also the fact that the FCC limits phoneline data transmission to about 53.3Kbaud...

Hmmm (0)

diamond fire (617316) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600186)

I don't care, I still want cable

By the time this is availible... (2, Interesting) (555899) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600190)

By the time this is availible, broadband will be at the places they plan to cover.

I can tie up the phone line and go slowly (faster, but still slow) for a little less then to get the real thing. No thanks.

Re:By the time this is availible... (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600320)

That's funny because I've always considered broadband better not essentially for speed.

Speed is good, but having a connection full-time that doesn't _use_ your phone line (ie: You can still pas a phone call or receive) is more important to me.

It's available now. (1)

mlh1996 (446618) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600364)

Or, at least there selling it like its available now.

Bummer.... (1)

bgog (564818) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600191)

Another stumbling block on the way to 100% broadband coverage.

Myth (5, Insightful)

KingDaveRa (620784) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600195)

Its obviously transparent proxying and compression of data. If you download something like a long html document, you would probably see speed improvements - if you try downloading an MP3, you'll see no improvement at all. How do you compress what's allready compressed?

Nice Idea, but doesn't really do what it says on the tin.

Re:Myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600241)

AOL 8.0 is faster than EVAR! Explain that, mr cynic.

Re:Myth (1)

tprox (621523) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600246)

Agree...I vote myth. For text and web stuffs, you'll probably see some speed. For gaming, and binary-data-non-web stuff, you'll probably see no difference (or maybe even a slight latency as they try to optimize your experience).

Re:Myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600250)

Mp3s and Images won't compress. This is almost as bad of a hoax as my dsl which sometimes comes in slower than dial up. Grrrr.

And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600256)

Smart websites are already using mod_gzip, etc to compress their HTML anyway, so people won't see any difference there either.

Re:Myth (1)

meowsqueak (599208) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600285)

Modern dial-up modems already use compression, and as you say, how do you compress what's already compressed? True or false, it's very little if anything to do with compression - that's already been exploited.

Re:Myth (4, Interesting)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600291)

Its obviously transparent proxying and compression of data.

I think you're probably correct. You can always enable HTML compression at the web server and web clients that "understand" it will see better performance. We started using it where I work for mobile devices connected to our intranet, but we were disappointed by the results -- mostly because the images being downloaded (the bulk of the data) were already compressed and the HTML compression had a negligible impact on performance. I would anticipate similar issues if the technology Earthlink is using is the same. and will download pretty fast. Viewing the latest photos on your family website will still be an exercise in patience.

Re:Myth (2, Funny)

luzrek (570886) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600344)

but it would speed up /.

Re:Myth (2, Interesting)

gmack (197796) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600330)

Right but modems have had transparent compression for a long time. 56k is 56k+plus compression.

I don't see anything new and given the fact that telcos internally encode analog lines at 64k I don't see much more improvement there either given that an 8k loss in the analog to digital conversion and back again is extrordinarily small when you think about it.

Re:Myth (4, Informative)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600335)

They're using Propel's web accelerator. From Propel's website [] :

What will be accelerated
All text - HTML, markup, and javascript
Most graphics & photos - including jpeg and gif images and most Flash images and animation
Most banner ads
All browser-based emails
All emails that contain images - even when read in a dedicated email program

What will *not* be accelerated
Streaming media, and audio and video files
Secure pages, such as those used for online banking and credit card forms
MP3 files and executable programs

Dead Liberal Senator Paul Wellstone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600200)

What was the most intelligent thing dead liberal Senator Paul Wellstone ever said in his pathetic life?

"Oh shit...the plane is going downnnnnnnn...ARGHHH!"

don't support short term solutions (0, Troll)

The Terrorists (619137) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600201)

compression, etc. won't ameliorate the severe overstress on our lines and the fact that bandwidth is not in short supply it's just bought up by governments, etc. Bandwidth is our freedom, it should be more closely regulated and bandwidth-pigs should be stopped. Satellite availability needs to be regulated as well.

Re:don't support short term solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600278)

Chess is NOT boring.

Re:don't support short term solutions (1)

zcollier (583927) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600304)

Severe overstress on our lines? Do you even know what the hell you're talking about?

If bandwidth is our freedom, the logical conclusion to your argument should be an advocation for the creation of more bandwidth, more satellites, and better methods of transmission, not more control.

What do you want? Freedom? Or control.

I'll take Freedom, thanks.

time to compress (1)

dirvish (574948) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600203)

Wouln't the constant compressing and decompressing contribute to latency? It must compress data by more than five times to compensate

Re:time to compress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600308)

The phone line is already so slow that the latency will be less. For normal HTML for example, the time saved actually hides the latency.

That's one reason more sites should take the time to send compressed HTML to begin with. Then an ordinary dialup user will get the performance benefit without having to have a special account (not to mention using less bandwidth at the server). I saw one web page get 97% compression on the 900k of data uploaded! We couldn't convince them to have less dynamic data on the page, but at least we managed to keep from getting /.'ed too easily.

Problems still occurs for people downloading MP3's and pr0n not getting the expected speed.

Re:time to compress (1)

dirvish (574948) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600346)

That's one reason more sites should take the time to send compressed HTML to begin with.

How do you send compressed html from a web page? I am confused. HTML is just text, why would you compress that?

Fact or fiction? (1)

Mister Black (265849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600209)

Well, I've got a 50/50 chance and I vote 'bunk'

Read the Article (3, Informative)

Obiwan Kenobi (32807) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600210)

So the ISP will be using compression when a user requests a page or file. This won't help in the speed of downloading already compressed files, only web browsing.

Email speed will stay the same.

Downloading compressed files will stay the same.

Browsing will be somewhat faster, but 7x is a stretch.

More than anything, I bet most of those $28.95/mo customers will be paying for the privilege of ~5min support response calls.

Definitely file this one into the "Hype" category of Hogwash.

Re:Read the Article (1)

L7_ (645377) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600347)

considering that the 3 times I've had to call Earthlink support i've waited on average about 70 minutes per call, the extra $5 per month isn't such a bad idea. Thats an hour and a half waiting on hold while the customer service person gets to me, its not including the 10-20 minutes actually spent getting the person to undestand my problem and doing what they can to fix it.

Thats not a very good number...

[The last time I used thier web/java-based instant message service and I was in and out in 10 minutes with my account problem solved... but it uses web-access, so if there is a problem with that you're hosed.]

Re:Read the Article (1)

metacosm (45796) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600359) - for those who want to learn more about thre actual technology this service will be using.

I personally think they have some good ideas.

Persistant Connections


Diff'ing against the unchanged data you already have


But -- I have been on broadband for so long -- what do I know :)

Won't work... (3, Informative)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600212)

A normal telephone call, at least in the united states, is carried on a 64Kbps channel. IE, the sound is sampled, converted into a 64Kbps bit stream that is sent through the network to the other end, where it is converted back into an analog stream.

This makes it impossible to cram more than 64Kbps into a phone call. Sure, you can compress the data, but once data is already compressed (as images, movies, and other things people usually want fat bandwidth for), it can't be compressed anymore.

Unless they dramatically change the analog phone network, which won't happen, this is a pipe dream. Sorry guys.

Re:Won't work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600333)

Read the article ... it specifically says that they will be caching and compressing data. They aren't really getting more bandwidth, just trying to avoid sending as many bits!

Re:Won't work... (1)

DrinkDr.Pepper (620053) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600350)

A normal telephone call, at least in the united states, is carried on a 64Kbps channel. IE, the sound is sampled, converted into a 64Kbps bit stream that is sent through the network to the other end, where it is converted back into an analog stream.

I beleive the limit is actually 56Kbps not 64Kbps. Hence the limit of current modems to 56Kbps. IIRC the FCC throttles that down to 53Kbps to make sure the rest of the channel is used for error correction. So if your ISP advertises 56K connections they are really only giving you 53 (check the fine print)

Regarless, DSL uses analogue phone lines to deliver much higher than 56k. But of course this would be considered broadband and requires specialized equipment.

I figured it out - (4, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600213)

EarthLink Plus uses a proprietary "Web Accelerator" from Propel Software which reduces the size of Web pages and elements sent to users' browsers.

Sounds cool, but in reality it's just Lynx for OSX.

Dineros ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600214)

I remember when 33 was upgraded to 56. It cost a lot. I'd like to see the cost of the new modems, when it comes to upgradeing hardware..

ps. My first time ever that I see a non commented slashdot post in 3 years

Dial-up on steroids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600219)

If only I could get 5 times more beer for the same money. That's my kind of service.

possibly... (3, Informative)

ferrocene (203243) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600220)

My ISP just implemented such a thing, and as an ex-employee I got to beta test. All the beta testers signed up for the new service as soon as the testing period was over, which is $5 more a month than the regular dialup. So it looks like they're doing something right.

Too expensive (1)

clausiam (609879) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600221)

Even if it is 5 times faster than 56k (I doubt it), at $28.95/month it's too expensive compared to DSL and cable. If you don't use the web that much get a cheapo dialup at $15/month. If you use it a lot, get broadband. This falls somewhere in the middle. May be an option for broadband-willing people living in rural areas. /Claus

Web? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600222)

The key word in this article is web access. the only improvement you'll see is when you view web pages. I'm not so sure they can truly guarantee 5x speed.

"If it sounds too good to be true..."

Speed vs. Time (3, Informative)

ChrisKnight (16039) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600223)

Just because web pages load five times faster, do not assume your connection speed is five times faster. The basis of the Plus service is a web optimization proxy server that sits between you and web servers. It automatically reduces the size on images, compresses the text, and does various tweaks to squeeze more into your 56k.

Your MP3s and bad porn will still come across just as slow on your gnutella client. Sorry.


Pointless (1)

creative_name (459764) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600224)

This is silly. While it's fine and dandy that we can now crunch the data down even further and make it fly across our phone lines faster, this fails to address the real issue. Eventually we can compress no more, sorta like chip development. Smaller and smaller dies are great, but we need to focus on the long term future, not the next six to eighteen months.

Rather than working on compression, they ought to be working on expanding current broadband networks or developing the 802.16 standard or something. Faster phone line transmissions aren't going to be worth the effort in the end.

Or am I wrong?

Haven't I heard this before? (3, Interesting)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600226)

Does anyone else remember the 24/96 modems that used to be sold? They were touted as "almost as good as" the true 9600bps modems. They used compression to achieve higher speeds which were actually just choppier and didn't seem much faster. Some of the original compression standards were MNP5 and later V42.bis.

Re:Haven't I heard this before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600299)

Most any modern modem still has some level of compression that works great on plain text.

Caching and compression != high speed Internet (2, Interesting)

sjhwilkes (202568) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600227)

If you really can't get DSL or cable fine. But in terms of browsing experience this won't come close.
While bandwidth heavy pages that happen to be compressible MIGHT load faster, access won't be always-on, and will be miserable if shared between 2 or more users...

Cybershore does this, but not for Linux. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600229)

My ISP, Cybershore [] in Connecticut, offers a technology similar to this. It uses compression, and is only available for Windows clients. I'm still waiting for cheap cable; I'm not willing to get broadband through SBC/SNET.

$28.95 per month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600234)

For $10 more... why not just get cable?

propel web accelerator. (1)

tuanjim_2001 (534921) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600236)

If you rmotfa you note that they partner with propel web accelerator [] . If I remember correctly there was some talk on /. earlier about them.

Just a reseller deal. (2, Interesting)

finnhart (653695) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600237)

You find out that Earthlink isn't actually changing the dialup speed at the modem level .. they are just reselling Propel [] software's Accelerator [] product. Earthlink is charging a $7/month premium over their standard dialup, so Earthlink subscribers get a full $0.95 / month savings over simply buying Propel's offering.

5:1 Compression...I Think Not (2, Informative)

VCAGuy (660954) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600238)

I hope that EarthLink qualifies what they mean by 5x faster. They're probably talking about "user experience" speeds. Because, if you think about it, when we do backups, we use 2:1 compression as the "ideal," and everyone that's ever loaded Travan or DLT or DDS drives knows that when it says 200GB, it means 200GB compressed at 2:1. Short of some sort of very high-powered (in terms of CPU cycles) compression, 5:1 is almost impossible to achieve--certainly with desktop hardware, and probably not at all.

Re:5:1 Compression...I Think Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600355)

It's for HTML and I assume other text, hence the compression rate is better than your average chunk of data.

Oh greeaaaaaat.... (1)

LowneWulf (210110) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600239)

So I get to pay extra per month for them to compress webpage text on their end.

So yay, the text part of a webpage comes a little faster. So that 10k or so of HTML is 5x faster.

Those images, MP3s, streaming video, and all that are all already compressed (normally lossy at that)... I doubt they're gonna do much with that. And why on earth do you want something more than dialup if you're not using high-bandwidth applications?

What's sad is that people will actually pay extra for this.

But remember that broadband *nominal* (1)

CapnGrunge (233552) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600242)

So now that ADSL is picking up it's becoming slower since it's got more demand. Not to mention cable that, at least in Mexico, makes you browse in cache-land.

Now, let's see what good it really is and at what cost.

Lzip Compression (2, Funny)

kdgarris (91435) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600245)

Perhaps they are using the Lzip compression algorithm to speed things up.

Content on the web is already compressed (1)

slaker (53818) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600247)

Mod_gzip, anyone?

How does something like this work for things that are already compressed, like, say, anything that passes through mod_gzip, a V.44 modem connection, .zip/bz2/tgz files, JPEG/MPEG files... anything I can think of, that I'd want to get "faster", is probably already being compressed somewhere along the line. Possibly multiple times.

The only ways I can think of to speed things further, at least in the case of images, is to resize cached copies, like AOL does, and that's just not a pleasant idea, or to apply some drastically better compression.

I don't think this is anything like it's cracked up to be.

Mose sites don't use gzip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600334)

It's amazing, but true. You'd figure with the costs of bandwidth so much higher than the costs of cpu time that sites would, but it still seems to be one of those things that only those with a clue know about. I figure hosting companies don't want to tell customers because they'll lose out on the bandwidth revenue.

The Leknor gzip checker [] is a handy little tool to figure out who uses it, and how much sites that don't use would save by using it.

Doesn't help the real problems.. (1)

No2NT (258831) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600248)

It doesn't look like will help ssh, scp, or irc 'cause you can't cache that so this does me little good.

I don't use my connection solely for web access; I've got lots of 0wn3d boxes to admin...

I wonder how well it will work for ftp too?

Doesn't look like a solution for the 56Ker unless you are web only.

Just compression and caching (1)

gricholson75 (563000) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600249)

This is just a compression and caching scheme. I don't think it will provide the kind of speed up people are looking for where it counts, i.e P2P and such. I mean sure they can compress your 50k web page to 10k, but they can't compress your 4M mp3 to 800k. It may improve web browsing, but as we all know well, that is a SMALL part of the broadband experience. When they can compress my 700 meg Divx movie to 140 megs, let me know.

Images are already compressed. (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600252)

This is bull.
Images constitute most of the data being downloaded. HTML is text- it's very small compared to images.
JPG, GIF, and PNG are already compressed as far as is practical.

So this technique is only compressing the HTML text. No big deal, and NO WAY 5X speed improvements.

Hmm (2, Funny)

rmohr02 (208447) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600258)

Already, the erosion of AOL's dial-up base is starting to show. During the fourth quarter it lost 176,000 narrowband subscribers.
Now that's a shame.

doubtful. (1)

EZmagz (538905) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600261)

From the article: EarthLink Plus uses a proprietary "Web Accelerator" from Propel Software which reduces the size of Web pages and elements sent to users' browsers.

To me, that doesn't sound very promising. Some kind of funky TCP/IP compression perhaps, but if it only applies to webpages, who gives a shit? Granted, it's be cool to load up webpages faster if you're on dial-up (heaven forbid flash-heavy sites), but what about all uses OTHER than the web? P2P? IRC? FTP?

For me, I'll stick with my cable modem and download as fast as you can say "free pr0n".

Why is this on Slashdot? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600265)

Why is obvious crap like this on Slashdot, while much more interesting and pertinent news is totally overlooked? (i.e., the DNS DOS on Al Jazeera)

How many times do we need to hear about unsubstatiated scientific and technological claims?

New Slashdot Revenue Model (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600365)

In order to get more ad revenue, Slashdot is changing it's focus to "News for Newbies, Stuff that Rules."

Probably a moneymaker... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600271)

One fact I am compelled to revisit upon reading these press releases of "stronger, faster, better" technology, particularly that which is promised to be coming real soon now, is that virtually all recent advances in industry techniques have been incremental. This is not a claim that there is nothing new to be found in the business; rather, I am inclined to state that if you want to peer into the future all you need to do is apply a bit of chrome to today's offerings.

Case in point: while stories of (distant future) storage technology consistently fill all the typical industry rags, a very real technique is already available and well-known to insiders. DVDA, one of the newer ideas that has taken off, promises to roughly quadruple conventional hard-medium storage techniques. Although more prone to tolerance faults because the scheme involves replacing the typical single-head approach with four carefully-positioned around the box, the increase in input capability has lead many to believe that consumer demand for DVDA will rise rapidly as it begins to hit the shelves in larger numbers.

We've all chuckled over the "640K is enough for anybody" quote, but the reverse approach of industry visionaries who predict teraflops of holographic storage or similar pie-in-the-sky schemes is similarly unlikely to lead us to tomorrow's breakthroughs. Don't be fooled into thinking that we've fully exploited the potential of current techniques.

WEB acceleration only (1)

lysium (644252) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600273)

From the looks of the article, Earthlink bought a server-side web "accelerator." So, for that extra eight bucks (?) a month, you get http compression. And that's it. Everything else you do will still be terribly slow.....

Re:WEB acceleration only (1)

Xeger (20906) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600300)

Considering that any modern browser supports some flavor HTTP compression, and that servers can be configured to support it without too much additional must wonder: what's the point? Especially since a significant proportion of web traffic consists of highly-compressed images, which only grow larger (increased overhead) when you try to compress them further.

huh? (1)

Lxy (80823) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600277)

Did anyone find this odd?
want faster connections but aren't willing to pay for broadband

willing to pay for broadband? More like "unable to get broadband". Even though Broadband prices are quite steep, it's usually not a deterrant. No, the fact that most people have no choice is the real problem.

Now, put that in the context of the article. Who do you know that can't get broadband but can get a good dialup connection? Most of the time if a person can't get broadband, they can't get over 26K dialup either. Great, so some of my stuff is compressed, I'm still downloading a pokey rate.

Can't wait to find out how many people jump in on this one only to find they've been mislead :-)

Re:huh? (1)

verloren (523497) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600369)

I'd like somewhat faster access, but I'm not willing to pay for broadband. 128k down / 64k up and always on would be fine for my use, and I'd even be OK with a (reasonable) download cap, for say $25-$30 per month. Full-on broadband is a great service, but $50 per month is more than I can justify (to myself, let alone my wife) no matter how fast it is.

Cheers, Paul

Myth (1)

LinuxCumShot (582742) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600279)

I vote myth. Even 56K modems don't do 56K. Modems are dead, give it up.

Answer: (1)

Dr_LHA (30754) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600280)


The pipe is only so big (1)

guacamolefoo (577448) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600283)

There is only so much data that canbe stuffed through a telephone wire over a circuit-switched connection. People have been promising to speed up dial-up for years, and the story is always that they have a miracle compression system or a proxy system or even predictive proxying. Combinations of all of the above are promised as well.

The fact is that when you pull big data files that are already compressed, you can't do much to improve things. You are stuffing 8 great tomatoes into the itty-bitty can already.

I've been in the ISP business for about 7 years. There is just no miracle cure. Dial up is what it is.

FWIW, I believe it has legs even now. There is a large portion of the population that only wants email and stock quotes. Broadband, while it may be faster, is something that they don't want to fool with. Also, security gets to be an issue with always-on connections. $10-$15 dial up is a good deal for many people. $25.00 AOL is a ripoff.


In other news... (1)

Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600287)

I met Kara the other day, and she's nowhere near as multi-talented as IBM would have you believe.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600310)

Not very attractive either. Perhaps we need to have a Slashdot interview with this Kara chick to find out what multiple talents are?

Propel (1)

GraZZ (9716) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600290)

The article links to Propel Software [] . On their front page they claim their product can give a 5x speed improvement to a normal dial-up account.

This is not Earthlink providing new connection technology; it is simply a proxying/compression trick, hardly worth $7US a month.

myth and moneymaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600292)

earthlink uses propel accelerator [] , some program (clientside and isp-side?) that optimizes your connection (caches webpages, finetunes modems' settings).

nothing very exciting, this is still our good old 56k technology in action.

faster 56k's are still a myth.

but this offer, if Joe Modem turns out to be dumb enough to believe it's real, is a moneymaker.

Reduces the amount of data sent downstream? (1)

mattACK (90482) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600296)

Is this a proxying service like blazer? [] Or a rip-off like punching the monkey [] or modem accelerators? []

Sounds suspicious at best. After all if it looks like crap and smells like crap, you shouldn't taste it.

they're probably using compression (1)

gothamNY (473289) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600307)

My guess would be that they'll be using some sort of compression gateway that would proxy web/pop/etc traffic. The server would compress the traffic and client software would be responsible for uncompressing. Some of the compression is lossy (such as that on images) so the consumer will see lower quality images and the extra bits wont need to be sent over the wire. It's something used by many wireless carriers to increase the perceived throughput to tethered user. To the average consumer it *looks* like it's a faster connection, when in fact it's the same real connection speed, because of compression and unecessary packets never making it to their end.

Try my test. (4, Insightful)

danheskett (178529) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600311)

That claim is silly and bogus. "Up to five times faster".

I tell them what. I have a text file with 1,048,576 bytes of rather random ASCII data in it. Compressed with zip it is actually larger than that size, indicating it is rather random.

Okay, that file on represents 8,388,608 bits. On a perfect 56k connection - thats 56 kilobits, maning 57,344 bits per second, that should download in about 146 seconds, or just over two minutes.

That's the baseline. In actual real world circumstances that 1MB text file takes between 4-5 minutes to transfer with a 56k connection to Earthlink. In most cases people do not even connect at true 56k, but rather, something between 33.6k and 56k.

Regardless, to support these claims they'd have to show me that same file transferred in ~30 seconds.

It's going to happen.
Obviously what they are claiming is that for text files (aka web pages) with 90% compressible content they can expect a multi-fold increase in performance.

HOWEVER, even this is suspect, because most modems and whatnot already support compression. AND a lot of webservers/web browsers are going to be sending gzip'd data to start with.

This all means that this all sounds suspect. Not suspect, but rather, false.

Cmprsss txt b rmvng ll vwls (5, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600315)

They have invented a new text compression method that is analogous to the pscho-acoustic models used to remove the sound the human ear doesn't notice anyway.

Thy smply rmv ll f th vwls n th txt. Ths wy thy cn gt a hghr cmprssn rt.

Thnk f t ths wy: Thy cn cmprss t 11. The thr gys cn nly cmprss t 10. S, 11 s bttr thn 10.

Hmm.... (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600318)

5x speed improvement with LYNX, perhaps?

V.92 (1)

toyotaboy (583027) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600319)

I haven't tested it yet, but V.92 is supposed to offer 60% more compression over V.90.. Many ISP's don't support it (not enough interest to upgrade equipment), however I did find one that incredibly cheap ($6/month!) and I'm connecting just fine without dropped calls. And no, I don't work for them, just passing along some good information.

ZDNet Review of Propel Software Accelerator (1)

Torqued (91619) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600321)

From the review of Propel Software Accelerator []

Editors' Rating 9.0

Interface and ease of use 10

Installation and setup 10

Service and support 7

Performance 9

Features 9

For years, frustrated Netizens have sought new ways to eke out a few more bits per second from their poky 56K connections. Most speed-up schemes (modem doublers, caching programs, and registry optimizers, such as Internet Rocket) generate a lot of hype but little else. Propel Software, on the other hand, offers a subscription service to boost your browsing that actually works.

When we used Propel Accelerator to download Web pages, they arrived two to three times faster than with a standard 56K connection. In some cases, pages displayed more swiftly than on a high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL). Truly, we were amazed. If you visit the same sites day in and day out--and your ISP budget isn't already stretched to the max--Propel is worth the $5 monthly fee. Keep in mind that it's no substitute for a cable modem or a DSL connection, and if you don't visit the same graphics-intensive sites often, this Internet-caching app's benefits won't be as compelling.

Easy does it
Propel offers the fastest, most painless installation imaginable. After downloading the file, simply click through the install wizard--no need to log off the Internet, close your browser, or reboot. The program simply places an icon in your system tray, and you're ready to go.

Propel works its internal magic in a handful of ways. On your desktop, it compresses graphics and other large files as they download, then decompresses them on the fly inside your browser. The program also caches the pages on your hard drive and updates only the data that's changed, so the same site will load even faster the next time you visit. The software also fools your ISP's servers into thinking you have a persistent connection (à la cable or DSL) by routing Web pages through the Propel network of servers, eliminating annoying dial-up time-out disconnections.

Speed you need
How fast is Propel? To test its speed, we timed a few graphics-intensive pages without Propel, then cleared our browser's cache before accessing the same sites with Propel. When we first visited CNET's home page using a standard 56K connection, the site took 24 seconds to download; using Propel, it took only 8 seconds. The next time we visited, Propel loaded the page in an amazing 4 seconds. The same held true for Amazon--20 seconds without Propel, 11 seconds with, and we eventually got down to an average of 6 seconds. These rates held their ground with a half dozen other sites that we checked. We even tested it using a supercheap ($7 per month) ISP account, and it worked just fine. But the software does nothing to speed up streaming media, file downloads, or POP3 e-mail connections--areas where broadband really shines.

Of course, the benefits of Propel vary depending on how you surf. If you visit graphics-rich (and painfully slow) sites such as,, or, it's a godsend. But if you spend most of your day doing Google searches, you may see little or no difference since Google is already quite fast.

Poor pics; no phones
On the downside, we ran into a few glitches using Propel. Page downloads occasionally stalled, and some pages displayed without any graphics. Propel was also slightly inconsistent; a page might load quickly once, then more slowly the next time. But hey, it's the Internet; bad things happen even to good connections.

Propel doesn't provide any phone support, either, just an extensive online FAQ and e-mail support. We e-mailed a question and received a response--from a human, not a computer--in less than four hours. That's darned fast. In any case, the program is so straightforward, odds are good that you won't need much support.

The next best thing next to broadband?
Don't mistake Propel for a poor man's DSL or cable account. However, if you can't get your hands on either of those high-speed options, Propel is a mighty tempting alternative.

- by Daniel Tynan

hogwash.. (1)

deadsaijinx* (637410) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600322)

I read a similar article in PcMagazine a while back. The technologies work in two ways. One takes popular websites and stores it in their own servers for supposably faster retreival. Sometimes you get faster results because of it, but only if their servers happen to be faster and the sites you visit are commonly visited (, etc.). However, it usually isn't worth the $10-20 a month they service costs. The next option is to go with the compressing technique, which basically compresses graphics. A trip to the smithsonian ( results in grayscale photos, but faster load times. Still, it relies on the speed of the servers, costs $10-20, and the benefits really aren't that great. In the end, I pay $40 for my broadband (since I also buy my cable tv from Comcast). I used to pay $20 for a second phone line and $20 for my ISP. To add another $10-20 would make a 56k dial-up connection cost $50-60 , or about the price of broadband for most people. Seeing as how broadband is FAR superior to speed-up services, and the total costs are the same, I proclaim these technologies to be HOGWASH, pure and simple.

nope (1)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600323)

Bitrate and bandwidth aren't being increased, so the connection isn't any faster. This will help people that just browse the web, but not gamers, IT people that work from home, those that like to download and upload large files, etc.

Unlikely (1)

Lavahead (81116) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600324)

Okay, we've seen this enough.
-Compression won't do any good on the biggest bandwidth hogs: image, video, and zip files.
-Most dial-up ISPs already run caching software. Most browsers already cache images, etc.
And the American reason...
-If there was really a way to accelerate dial-up speeds by 5x without interfering with the downloaded content, some greedy businessman would already have figured it out and be charging a lot more than $10. And I mean besides blocking flash, Java, and animated gif advertisements at the server side. That's too easy and much too effective.

Ziproxy anyone? (1)

IceFox (18179) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600332)

Sound like they simply took Ziproxy and are packaging it 7 []

Actually I myself have been meaning to set it up for myself...

-Benjamin Meyer

Its snake oil (1)

litewoheat (179018) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600340)

Propel et al are all just snake oil vendors who want your marketing data. All they run is a glorified proxy server that adds some compression (before the modem compresses the data anyway). At times their compression is counter productive and will slow things down. There's also a web cache thing on the client (which really isn't much better then the built in web cache.

What is evil is all of their customers and customer's customer's traffic is run though their servers. Just wait unti a customer stubles upon a golf site by accident and is soon deluged by golf related offers in their e-mail and on the phone. Of course Propel et al will utterly deny that the usage data is ever shared or mined.

This is going to come back and bite Earthlink.

Oh yeah, 5:1 is utter bullshit.

It's the hardware stupid (1)

2starr (202647) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600341)

I'm a software guy, so I like to think you can do anything in software. But to be realistic, there are some things you just have to do in hardware. If the hardware hasn't changed (which according to the article: it hasn't), then it won't work as advertised for everything. Some things, maybe. But not everything.

Not much real effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600349)

Compression won't affect images (gif,png,jpeg,etc.) or movies because they are already compressed. It will help with the text and html but that's a small part of most web pages. So, while the speed gain may be five times for a plain text web page, for the cases where it really matters, images, movies, gzip compressed files, etc. there will be absolutely no gain.

advertising hype (1)

vinnythenose (214595) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600351)

Sounds to me from reading that somewhat inadequate article that it's all advertising hype.

They're claiming it will run 5x faster than 56k modem. Well, the thing is they're only employing compression technology to web pages.

So, it's still running at 56k. But webpages may download up to 5x faster, depending on their content.

The speed is the same, it's just web content is compressed. Which means if you get kazaa happy just thinking of this, remember that the compression is not going to compress content from kazaa (that and you'd be hard pressed to find something to compress oggs, mp3s and movies smaller than many already are).

Summary, speed the same, may appear faster, but this is mostly marketting hype.

For sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600353)

Why can't we get korean style broadband already? 512kbs for $40 is teh sux when the koreans get 12Mbs for around $15.

IIRC, Aol already does something similar... (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600354)

By converting the images into a lossy, 256 color format. Yes, the webpage loads faster, but the images are limited to the color depth at which they're displayed. Basically, if you view a web page in 256 color mode, a true color image will be downgraded to 256 color mode. Which means that if you save the image, and later switch to a true color mode, you're still stuck with a pixelated 256 color image.

Also, while compressing html might be a good idea for viewing webpages only, it still won't help when it comes to downloading something like the linux kernel or mp3's - which are already compressed.

I've been to broadband and back to dialup for financial reasons, and 56k is fast enough for loading web pages. The real advantage of broadband is not the speed at which web pages load, but the fact that you can download large files (like ISO's and mp3's) that would otherwise be impractical with dialup. The fact that you can run a server is also a nice plus.

I applaud Earthlink for trying, but quite frankly, I don't think this is going to catch on. For the kinds of files that will be downloaded by the average broadband user, there's simply no replacement for large bandwidth. Nice gimmick, though.

Myth or Moneymaker? (2, Insightful)

washirv (130045) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600357)

Surely it could be both.

Bull, yes, will it work? Maybe (1)

swtaarrs (640506) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600358)

I've seen many people say this is bull (it will only help with text, etc..) and I agree 100%. However, the success of something is not always determined by what the smart geeks think of it, it's what the average (ignorant(paying)) consumer thinks. AOL tricked millions of people into thinking that their service was better than other ISP's when in fact AOL has generally been a few years behind the times, especially with email. So while this will only speed up the loading of text pages a little, the people(fools) who sign up will see that and love it, and try not to see the truth, that the extra money is a waste.

More vaporware (1)

!Squalus (258239) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600361)

Umm.. don't look now, but there is a little bird passing you by at 100 MPH.

Broadband that works is the answer. Cable is the way to go for the time being. DSL is too limited and overpriced (most DSL tech know less than anyone I have ever seen) for the disservice that has been provided. Roadrunner may be a part of AOL/Time Warner, but it sure doesn't suck.

Most people who have had DSL have ended up frustrated by poor service, strange outages, little to no tech support, and extreme wait periods for connection (as in availabilty).

With Roadrunner, I was connected quickly (on a weekend when I was at home) - veruss a two month wait to get DSL, and even then they wouldn't be certain until they got to my home to verify if it was available.

I see to remember a whole lot of products that tried this with software all during the "dialup only" Internet era. It didn't really work well, because it relies on caching, compression, and "look-ahead". The "look-ahead" was supposed to follow links on the pages you were on to speed up access to those links. In theory - sounds great. In reality, people don't always surf like that, so it didn't really work.

Nice try, but I would wait and see before rushing off to scream "Yippee! I am almost getting broadband". Heck, even ISDN would be better than this in all probability. Why not just get two ISDN lines and bond them for that matter?

Utter Hogwash. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5600368)

Most of the big stuff we transfer is already compressed and, unless modems have changed a lot since the olden days, they already do compression of anything that can be compressed. The only way to dramatically increase the amount of data transferred is to dramatically increase the connection speed.

While new compression schemes may be able to eek out a slightly better ratio, it certainly isn't going to be five times the current level. Local proxy stuff never caught on because people don't want to see the same crap over and over. They want _new_ data. For most single-user environments, a proxy actually slows things down as the proxy cache has to be searched before the request goes out to the net.

Last Gasp of a Dying Business Plan (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600375)

Near as I can tell from the PR fluff, it speeds "web browsing", not actual throughput, through use of compression, better image caching, and preloading of images.

Meaning that your bandwidth remains at the same pokey 53K it always was.

Meaning that you don't wait for banner ads - they get downloaded in the background while the modem's idle.

Meaning it's nothing more than glorified adware/spyware.

Meaning it's the same crap you get spammed for every day.

On one hand, you've got the snake oil advertized by spams saying "ACCELER8 YOUR DOWNLOADS UP TO 5X FASTER 2DAY WITH ASSWARE!!!!11!1! qdicxrk", by trailer trash hoping make $9.99 once by selling spyware/adware/affiliate crapware to the clueless.

This is the same snake oil, except it's advertised by press release instead of spam, the trailer trash now wears a nice suit, and he's hoping to... make an extra $9.99 per month.

Margins on DSL are crap - at $30-50/month, they're losing money, but margins on dialup aren't much better.

Heavy dialup users realize that with DSL/cable at $30/month, and dialup at $20/month, they're better off with broadband. Infrequent dialup users are realizing that with competing dialup at $10/month, they're better off with $10/month dialup than the $22/month offering.

Consequently, the fat-margin $20+/month 2-hour-a-week dialup AOLusers and Earthsinkers (on which the "dialup ISP" business plan depends) are becoming a dying breed, leaving the suits desperate to try anything to boost margins among the decreasing dialup-n00b market segments, as long as they can, and by any means necessary.

With apologies to the President:

"Investors, I call upon you to see this for what it is. Do not sacrifice your hard-earned capital for the last gasps of a dying business plan."

Earthlink Commercials (0)

Ballresin (398599) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600377)

Now they can just run those "Are we there yet?" commercials in fast forward.

And they'd save on advertising.
How much does a 5 second timeslot in an average cable company's timeline cost?

Encouraging bad web pages. (1)

JimTheta (115513) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600378)

EarthLink Plus uses a proprietary "Web Accelerator" from Propel Software which reduces the size of Web pages and elements sent to users' browsers.

Okay, this is almost on-topic, but if 70% of pages weren't coded so badly with poor html tools that fill html code with useless extra text, textual parts of the web would load probably 5 times faster anyway.

Christ, the simple proper use of CSS instead of old-school font tags can reduce a page's size considerably. And you're browser will probably render it quicker, too.

Actually, I think html pre-cleaners at the ISP side would be kinda neat (as long as they can be disabled at the user's desire). Hmm... Microsoft could capitalize on FrontPage's shitty html-generation... they could optimize their server software to fix for their crap FP-pages....

Just ignore this post; it's more of a ramble than anything.

This doesn't actually speed up the line (1)

Shishak (12540) | more than 11 years ago | (#5600379)

This software works by creating a HTTP proxy on your machine. Your web browser is configured to use the local proxy. The proxy is configured to open a TCP connection to a squid proxy.

It works because it eliminates the expensive TCP socket creation and teardown process for every web request. If you look at a website that has 10 images on it you'll need to make 11 connections to the web server (assuming keepalive isn't enabled on the client or server). If you are on a dialup link with a ping time of 200ms it will take 300 ms per connection just to get the TCP stuff setup before you can send data.

It goes like this...

Your machine sends a SYN
100ms later the webserver gets the SYN and replies
100ms later you get the ACK and send the request
100ms later the webserver gets the request and sends the data
100ms later you start getting the data

Do this 11 times and you have 4400ms in TCP setup for the website or 4.4s

Now, with this software you do.

Send SYN to the local proxy
1ms later the local proxy gets your SYN and replies
1ms later you get the ACK and send a request
1ms later the proxy gets the request and sends it to the squid proxy (connection already established)
100ms later the squid proxy gets the request. Request isn't in local cache. Squid sends SYN to webserver
20ms later web server gets SYN, sends ACK
20ms later squid gets ACK, sends request
20ms later webserver gets request sends data
20ms later squid gets data sends to local proxy
100ms later local proxy gets data sends to browser
1ms later browser gets data.

284ms total time * 11 = 3.1 seconds for an improvement of 1.3 seconds or 30% speed improvement.

This doesn't count the possibility of the content being cached in the squid proxy saving an additional 80ms per request.

The squid proxy could also do some image manuplation to strip color from banner ads reducing download times even further.

200ms is pretty good for a dialup modem connection. The savings get even better with slower connections. At about 100ms pings the savings swing the otherway and it starts to hurt your performance.

This works for webbrowsing but you will not see an improvment in raw download speeds. It won't help you get your pr0n any faster....
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