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ISPs Offer Faster Speeds, Why Don't We Get Them?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the where-did-the-extra-bits-go dept.

688

Ron Williams asks: "I'm infuriated every time I see that companies are raising their speeds when they can't maintain their current speeds. Here's my biggest issue: my grandmother signed up for the 3Mbps DSL plan through Verizon, however a speed test said she was only getting 750Kbps. Why pay for the extra bandwidth when she's not getting it? She downgraded to the 768K plan expecting to still have 750K. Wrong, instead her speed dropped to 300K. So, how about instead of companies constantly claiming to increase their speeds, they get their actual speeds correct. Comcast has done the same thing, I had their 6Mbps plan at one point, I got 2.5Mbps usually and sometimes 3Mbps, so they're all doing the same thing. In closing, with all these speed increases, why is my Internet not getting faster?" What practices and tools do you use to test your bandwidth speed and how have you approached your ISP when the performance repeatedly fell short of your expectations?One thing to note is that you'll never get the top speed advertised for any connection due to transmission overhead; even so, you should be able to get close (within about 10-20%). Also, ISPs oversell their bandwidth, so if you run your speed tests when other customers are using their connection, you will notice the performance hit.

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688 comments

No surprise here move along (3, Informative)

rodgster (671476) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450926)

Last time I checked, you get no SLA (Service Level Agreement) with consumer DSL or cable Internet accounts. To the best of my knowledge you get no SLA with commercial DSL or cable accounts either (at least I don't and don't know of anyone who does). You have to buck up and pay for T or Frame or OC lines before you get an SLA.

Yes they oversell their capacity. Some places it isn't too bad (my connection), sometimes it becomes as slow as dial-up. I'd vote with my dollars appropriately.

SLA? (5, Insightful)

Jordan Catalano (915885) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450979)

SLA? Bullshit. If I buy a car called "Toyota 85MPH Blue Car" it had damned well better not be goverened to 55MPH. "But when you bought the car, the dealer never signed an agreement guaranteeing speed." Bull-shit.

Re:SLA? (0, Offtopic)

rodgster (671476) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451021)

I'd like to call BS on the gas mileage guesstimate sticker from when I bought my truck new.

Re:SLA? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451139)

SLA? Bullshit. If I buy a car called "Toyota 85MPH Blue Car" it had damned well better not be goverened to 55MPH. "But when you bought the car, the dealer never signed an agreement guaranteeing speed." Bull-shit.
I don't think anyone is claiming that the ISP is intentionally capping the speed at half the advertised rate (they'd be committing fraud if this was happening) -- instead, they are just overselling their capacity.

It's more like buying a Ferrari with a top speed of 196mph, and then finding that you can rarely go faster than 60 because other drivers are always in your way.

Re:No surprise here move along (5, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450982)

I'd vote with my dollars appropriately.

Easy to do if you're in a broadband-competitive area (I am, and I have Comcast, and if things aren't working to my satisfaction I call them up and say the magic word "Speakeasy".) I know people that only have one option for broadband, and things can get a mite more difficult (I'm not picking on Comcast alone, seems like most broadband providers are only as co-operative as they have to be in a particular service area.)

Re:No surprise here move along (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451064)

Are you concerned about what "tiered service" might do to Speakeasy? I am.

Re:No surprise here move along (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451145)

Yes, I am too, and there are a lot of other ISPs (ones that aren't so professional or as consumer-friendly) that would like Speakeasy to just go away. Tiered service is as bold an example of a Congressional sellout as one could imagine, the DMCA not withstanding. Let's hope they manage to not screw us all up.

Re:No surprise here move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451052)

I think the author of the question forgot to read the SLA portion that describes the difference between Kbs and KBs. A divisible difference of a factor of 8. 8 bits = 1 Byte

Re:No surprise here move along (4, Insightful)

Flexagon (740643) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451059)

... you get no SLA...

My cable connection (Comcast) is the same, and specifically includes a disclaimer that no guarantee is made that I will actually receive the rated throughput.

In practice, it blazes in the off-hours, sludges out during prime time. And the most noticable effect when it's bad is latency, not throughput.

Re:No surprise here move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451123)

My isp tells me that the advertised speeds are from my local hub to their connection to the net (sorry, don't know the right jargon)

SLAs mandated on $$ lines (4, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451162)

To the best of my knowledge you get no SLA with commercial DSL or cable accounts either (at least I don't and don't know of anyone who does). You have to buck up and pay for T or Frame or OC lines before you get an SLA.

That's because the FCC mandates SLAs on T/Frame/OC lines.

my dsl, my test... (3, Informative)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450928)

Yeah I wonder about that, I'm supposed to have DSL (Verizon), always suspected it to be a bit slow: here are my test results: download: 783kbs, upload: 138kbs. I don't have my contract here, but that seems slow. I'm moving from this house, or I'd check further into it. (I just checked, I'm paying for the high speed connections, my test results are about 1/3 what "up to" speeds should be...)

My download speeds feel sluggish, the upload speeds are a little painful. My biggest objection to the upload speed results is they are just barely better than ISDN. WTF?

(BTW, go here [visualware.com] if you want to see what your speeds are... It's a test site to see if your connection speed supports VOIP. Mine BARELY could.)

Re:my dsl, my test... (1)

rodgster (671476) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451003)

~128 to 256 KB is the typical CAP for "home" DSL or cable. I have a 768 KB symmetrical (static IP, commercial TOS) connection and it usually tests (throughput) right about there, sometimes the latency is an issue though (that's a problem for VOIP).

Re:my dsl, my test... (1)

YouHaveSnail (202852) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451014)

(BTW, go here [visualware.com] if you want to see what your speeds are... It's a test site to see if your connection speed supports VOIP. Mine BARELY could.)

I have a feeling that that's not the test that ISP's use to measure their systems. I tried it three times in a row and got fairly different results each time. The one thing that was consistent was that it told me that my connection has too much "jitter" to use VOIP. And yet, I replaced my POTS line with Vonage a year ago and haven't noticed any problem. I do get a garbled word in a conversation every once in a while, but that was true with the POTS line too. So I'm not convinced that the visualware.com test is all that useful.

Re:my dsl, my test... (4, Informative)

jdreed1024 (443938) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451043)

(BTW, go here if you want to see what your speeds are... It's a test site to see if your connection speed supports VOIP. Mine BARELY could.)

I have 3Mbit down/384k up service (and was getting 3Mbit down and 360k up on their test, and it still told me I couldn't use VoIP with good QoS, yet I use VoIP all the time on my network and get quality equal to or better than my cell phone. It's not clear to me that their test is all that useful - or their metrics are screwed up. If they consider 33 ms ping times bad, I'd like to know where they can find a better residential connection.

Really though, this whole story is a non-issue. I have yet to see an ad for any residential serviice that doesn't say "speed not guaranteed". The speeds they quote you are always "up to this number", not "you always get this number". For cable it's a shared medium between other users on your head end, so unless you're the only user, you're not going to be able to max out the line. 802.11b is supposed to be 11 Mbit per second, but I rarely get that, because it's divided among the other users of the access point. It doesn't mean Avaya and Enterasys are scamming consumers because their access points don't always give 11Mbit/sec. DSL is very sensitive to your distance from the CO and quality of the wiring, so of course it's not guaranteed. Even a LAN is not guaranteed. For short and medium transfers, I rarely get 100 Mbits out of my local network. These "connection testers" are mostly useless - a better test is to download large amounts of data (BitTorrent, for example) and look at the average throughput.

.edu (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15450931)

This isn't a problem for us at Uni. Downloading Fedora 5 DVD at 9MB/s from MIT to WOU (Western Oregon University) = bliss.

Shocking! (1, Interesting)

fragmentate (908035) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450933)

On cable connections, you're sharing the connection -- is it so shocking that you're not getting what's advertised?

Then there's the whole issue of the internet in general. We've seen sites that are probably paying for OC3s and DS3s for their sites and you go visit their site and there's bad latency.

Then I click on my Slashdot bookmark -- voila! The explanation, darn Slashdotters hogging up all the bandwidth.

The point being there's a lot of noise in between the last hop out of your ISP and the destination address. Get over it. It's not false advertising, it's the unpredictability of the internet. Trying doing speed tests [speakeasy.net] to many destinations.

What does gramma need with 3Mbps anyway?!

Re:Shocking! (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450997)

What does gramma need with 3Mbps anyway?!

Irrelevant. They sold her on 3 Mbps, they aren't delivering it. It's not my business or yours what she wants it for.

Re:Shocking! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451028)

Just admit it, it's for porn.

Re:Shocking! (1)

earthstar (748263) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451058)

What does gramma need with 3Mbps anyway?!

Good question ! Dont tell me she downloads Pr0n.torrent ! !
[no pun]

Re:Shocking! (2, Insightful)

nolife (233813) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451079)

On cable connections, you're sharing the connection

Are you implying that DSL is not shared? The only part of DSL that is not shared is from your house to the CO. From there it is shared as the bandwidth in and out of your CO is shared by everyone that terminates in that CO, I guess the only person you would not share that CO bandwidth with is if you were connecting directly to one of your neighbors.

On a side note. I have Comcast. I can always got my advertised speed any time of the day or night. Not all areas are maxed out or "oversold".
   

Re:Shocking! (2, Interesting)

taylortbb (759869) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451081)

Around here it seems everyone bashes cable, but it's not the technology that sucks, but the providers. I don't know what available in your area but here (Toronto, Canada) I have the choice of Bell (DSL) or Rogers (Cable) for highspeed. On a 3 Mbps DSL line ($40/month CAD) you'll likely pull 3-4Mbps from any decent server. Over one of the 6Mbps cable lines ($46/month CAD) you can generally pull about 10Mbps or download speeds of 1.25MB/sec sustained.

My suggestion to the poster is try a different ISP, they're not all bad. I don't know your location so I can't be more specific but if your in the US you're sort of stuck with the fact that all the ISPs I've seen down there suck.

Re:Shocking! (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451096)

On cable connections, you're sharing the connection -- is it so shocking that you're not getting what's advertised?

On every connection you're sharing it, whether it's on the local switch or the switch at the station. Cable you share it on the local segment, while DSL you share the central switch with everyone else. Cable tends to be dramatically better than DSL at raw speeds and speed per dollar, though, so I'm not sure why you're picking on it. I regularly get over 5Mb down on my cable modem, and I have the basic Comcast package. Of course, cable's upstream rates suck, which is why I'm likely to switch to FiOS when they offer it around here next month.

Re:Shocking! (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451115)

What does gramma need with 3Mbps anyway?!

And stop picking on my grandma... we regularly do 3-way iChats with my Dad, brother, and/or me, so she actually uses the bandwidth.

Re:Shocking! (1)

XenoPhage (242134) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451132)

On cable connections, you're sharing the connection -- is it so shocking that you're not getting what's advertised?

Well, yeah.. Sort of. Typically, the downstream has approximately 36 meg of available bandwidth for each set of frequencies. So, all of the users on a particular downstream share that. Upstream is, if I remember correctly, about 6 or 10 Meg.

In DSL land, you are "guaranteed" to have the bandwidth up to the DSLAM. That is, the phone line you are running on is a single run from you to the termination point (be it a CO or a remote). Once you get in the DSLAM, you begin sharing. Typical DSLAMs from companies like Paradyne or Adtran have 24-48 DSL modems and are fed with 1-8 T1s. Larger units can have several hundred modems and are fed by either a DS-3 or an OC-3.

So, while you are technically not sharing the cable from you to the provider, you are sharing once you get onto the DSLAM. It's basically the same as using a dial-up modem. You're guaranteed to be the only one using the bandwidth between your modem and the modem at the ISP. But from there, you get thrown in with everyone else...

Be that as it may, however.. I do like DSL despite more for a few reasons. For one, it's generally run by telephone companies who are pretty adamant about their 99.999% uptime.. My DSL rarely goes out. And for another, it just seems to be more stable overall. The cable networks I've had to deal with in the past were buggy at best from the head end units to the cable itself..

Re:Shocking! (2, Informative)

protich (961854) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451153)

Hey...watch what you say. Now days grammas are in 30s. Into bittorrent and stuff....you must be old.

Re:Shocking! (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451159)

Last time I checked, cable ISPs don't put the whole connection sharing bit up in bold type with the maximum bandwidth figure. If someone figures that the bandwidth they will get is actually the bandwidth advertised you can hardly blame them. That's why I go ADSL, I always get exactly what is written on my bill. But that is because I am a tech savy nerd, not everyone can say the same thing.

Find a real ISP (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15450934)

Find a real ISP, like speakeasy.

Sounds like (1)

drgroove (631550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450935)

a class-action lawsuit in the making, if you ask me.

Re:Sounds like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15450947)

Speed tests are useless, use a download manager to soak up all the bandwidth on your connection. ReGet (http:/www.reget.com) is the king.

Not the case for me! (3, Funny)

Quick Sick Nick (822060) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450939)

Jesus Christ! Call Whine 11 or something!

...Anyway, I have 8 MB Comcast and I am very pleased. I just used http://www.testmy.net/tools/test/d_load.php [testmy.net] to measure my connection speed and here is the result:

:::.. Download Stats ..::: Connection is:: 8212 Kbps about 8.21 Mbps (tested with 5983 kB) Download Speed is:: 1002 kB/s Tested From:: http://testmy.net/ [testmy.net] (Server 1) Test Time:: 2006/06/01 - 8:12pm Bottom Line:: 143X faster than 56K 1MB Download in 1.02 sec Tested from a 5983 kB file and took 5.969 seconds to complete Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.0.3) Gecko/20060426 Firefox/1.5.0.3 Diagnosis: Awesome! 20% + : 62.71 % faster than the average for host (comcast.net) Validation Link:: http://testmy.net/stats/id-YLBMP5VFC [testmy.net]

My download speed really is that fast if I am downloading from a good webserver. And even when I'm not, the bandwidth gets used in bittorrent :)

Sorry you are having problems....

another crapcast.net stat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451113)

:::.. Download Stats ..:::
Connection is:: 4964 Kbps about 4.96 Mbps (tested with 2992 kB)
Download Speed is:: 606 kB/s
Tested From:: http://testmy.net/ [testmy.net] (Server 1)
Test Time:: 2006/06/01 - 8:39pm
Bottom Line:: 87X faster than 56K 1MB Download in 1.69 sec
Tested from a 2992 kB file and took 4.937 seconds to complete
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.8.0.1) Gecko/20060111 Firefox/1.5.0.1
Diagnosis: 90% + Okay : running at 98.36 % of your hosts average (comcast.net)

across wireless. with utorrent running.

Why? I'll tell you why. (1)

suso (153703) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450943)

Its the same reason why online casino owners pay the blackmailers. Its the same reason you end up paying $1.39 for a 20oz. pop when it says 2 for a $1. Its the same reason web hosting companies say they offer 1 terabyte of disk space per customer for $5/month.

Why?

Because nobody ever challenges them. And the company gets away with it.

Re:Why? I'll tell you why. (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451083)

Actually, it's because the vast majority of their customers never use the promised resources and don't notice the fact that the ISP is technically fibbing. Unfortunately, since the advent of Gnutella and Bit Torrent millions of people are noticing that they aren't receiving the service levels they were expecting. Browsing, email and instant messaging don't give you any real feedback about line conditions ... but just run a few torrents and it becomes painfully obvious when the performance isn't there. The fact that ISP's business models (and profit margins) depend upon the bulk of their customers not using what they were told they were paying for doesn't change the fact that they are paying for it. If bandwidth-intensive applications continue to be popular (and usage shows no sign of slowing down in spite of numerous lawsuits to the contrary) the big ISPs may very well have to change their offerings. Either that, or build out their networks to the point where they can sustain the traffic. Neither option appeals to them, so they're trying to take the easy way out by labeling certain customers as "bandwidth hogs" or "account abusers" and maintaining undisclosed usage limits (to intimidate customers into limiting their consumption.) That works to a degree, but when the number of bandwidth hogs begins to number in the tens of millions there's definitely a problem.

Re:Why? I'll tell you why. (1)

KimmoA (975372) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451136)

Am I the only one who finds your "Suso website hosting [suso.com]. No disk quotas and personalized support." signature a bit ironic?

Don't have that problem with my fiberoptic (2, Informative)

hivebrain (846240) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450944)

I haven't noticed that issue since getting fiber through Verizon. I can see a consistent 30Mbps when I download very large files.
No real point to that. Just braggin' :-)

Re:Don't have that problem with my fiberoptic (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450992)

I can see a consistent 30Mbps when I download very large files.

  • Have you got wireless?
  • Do you use WEP?
  • How comfortable is your backyard?

Just curious...

Re:Don't have that problem with my fiberoptic (1)

hivebrain (846240) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451030)

If you really want me to torture you, I'd tell you that the 5Mbps I get upstream is what's really the bee's knees.

Re:Don't have that problem with my fiberoptic (1)

skiflyer (716312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451062)

What's that go for?

I'm fine with my 1.5Mbps down... but I'd love me some greater than whatever this up crap that I have is.

Re:Don't have that problem with my fiberoptic (4, Interesting)

hivebrain (846240) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451098)

I pay $55/month for 30 down / 5 up. I think you can get 15 and 2 for about $40. I also get my TV through the fiber now -- $30 cheaper than digital cable through Comcast, more channels, HDTV, yadda, yadda.
I'm in the northern VA suburbs of DC and I know that Verizon's already in a wide variety of towns in the area.

Re:Don't have that problem with my fiberoptic (1)

warzer (754115) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451154)

But don't they advertise it as being 100mbs fiber at 55$?

Re:Don't have that problem with my fiberoptic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451078)

That's it? I've been hitting 35 mbps with Comcast's new Powerboost, and that was a free upgrade. Go New England!

speakeasy for both (2, Informative)

Polymorph2000 (166850) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450945)

http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ [speakeasy.net]

Use this to test your connection speed, and make speakeasy your ISP if you want to get the bandwidth that you pay for. It may cost you a bit more, but their technical support, speed, and service policies are more than worth it.

Re:speakeasy for both (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451029)

I doubt that they offer service in Elmwood, Wisconsin. I also see no reason to believe that they are going to provide a fair test of a competitor's service.

Besides, they require Flash.

Re:speakeasy for both (1)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451093)

It's a fair test. I switched to Speak Easy. I ran than the test while I still had BellSouth. I got the speeds expected. I also ran the test at work and got killer results of the T1.

Re:speakeasy for both (1)

Polymorph2000 (166850) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451101)

I've tested them with Comcast and they accurately measure the advertised bandwidth of my connection(during low usage hours).

Plus, flash is a lesser evil than java, which all the other online bandwidth tests require. All you need to really measure bandwidth is ssh and server access.

Flash vs. Java licensing (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451127)

Plus, flash is a lesser evil than java

BS. Anybody can implement a virtual machine compatible with JVM bytecode from Sun's spec. The Flash license, on the other hand, prohibits anybody who has seen the official SWF spec from implementing an SWF player.

no guarantees (2, Informative)

blew_fantom (809889) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450946)

most of the time, companies like verizon will NOT guarantee advertised bandwidth. your real speed depends on how full the central office (c.o.) is, how saturated the dslam is, your distance to the c.o., and line quality. its a real racket. they can charge you full price but depending on those factors and more, you probably won't get the *advertised* speeds.

Re:no guarantees (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451125)

I just switched to Verizon DSL, and am getting just about all of my advertised speed.
Pay for 3Mbps, am getting right around 2.75 average. And I'm supposedly ~14,000 feet from the CO. Evidently max for DSL is 18,000

I switched from Cox cable, because they couldn't seem to deliver a stable connetion for more than 48 hours at a time. This problem over many months, and many technicians out to 'fix' it. Screw them.

3Mbps all the time is better than 5Mbps half the time.

Variance (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450948)

Speeds advertised are often optimal speeds for people living across the street from their local connection point.

As distance increases DSL speeds drop. For Cable when usage is up, speed drops.

for me, I pay for 2.5 Mbit connection and I get around 2.1 Mbit. I'm not on top of the hub, but I'm pretty close.

if you're getting speeds that low, its likely because you live a great distance or away or you may be having other line problems.

Guess I'm lucky (2, Interesting)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450950)

I've lived in 4 different places in 2 cities and have been able to consistantly recieve 80-90% of the advertised speed through cable. There's a reason why the ads on TV have speeds will vary written in fine print.

RCN is right where they put there mouth (1)

TaylorSyn (978652) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450953)

According to bandwidth test I have conducted RCN is always within the level of service advertised. Infact recently they updated me to 7megabit from 5megabit.

Municipal Broadband (5, Interesting)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450955)

Do what the city I live in did and start your (the citizens) own ISP [burlingtontelecom.net]. I get the speed I pay for on a fiber optic connection. Plus they offer TV and telephone service. Better service, cheaper rates, and it's owned by the people that use it.

Re:Municipal Broadband (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451010)

> Better service, cheaper rates, and it's owned by the people that use it.

It's a cooperative?

Re:Municipal Broadband (0, Offtopic)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451134)

It's municipal. So it is just like a cooperative . . . except you are forced to cooperate by law.

-Peter

Re:Municipal Broadband (1)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451141)

Our local Phone Coop is much like that. $100 month gets my phone, cable, HBO, DSL with an honest 1mb/300k. Plus I get a profit share check from them every year that makes the actual cost much less. The plan that the mentioned at the last Coop meeting is to put everything on fiber over copper in the next few years. Just in time forthe digital televison switchover.

ISPs Offer Faster Speeds, Why Don't We Get Them? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450962)

> One thing to note is that you'll never get the top speed advertised for
> any connection due to transmission overhead; even so, you should be able
> to get close (within about 10-20%).

When I had 256k service from CenturyTel I got exactly 256k throughput. Now that I have 1.5M I get from 900k to 1.2M. Since I'm about 15,000 feet from the CO on a fifty year old buried cable, I'm not too unhappy.

Bresnan (1)

MTgeekMAN (700406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450966)

I use bresnan Cable internet where im at (montana) and its usualy not bresnans fault for slow speeds. they reacently uped our speed to 8Mbps and i regularly see 1-1.1MB/s downloads from good servers.

I do notice some problems in the evenings but thats seem pretty normal every where you go, but the drop is not much maybe getting 700-800KB/s.

so i would say that the problems every one is talking about is more of a large city problem. My dad lives near seattle and uses comcast cable internet and has similar problems to the artical posters... and dont forget bandwidth shapeing killing every ones speed

Re:Bresnan (1)

Vskye (9079) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451167)

I use bresnan Cable internet where im at (montana) and its usualy not bresnans fault for slow speeds. they reacently uped our speed to 8Mbps and i regularly see 1-1.1MB/s downloads from good servers.

Mod parent up. I also have Bresnan and have not had any issues with them. (quite amazing for a cable company.. and I've had more than a few) I get internet, tv and phone for $99us a month which is a good deal, considering I was spending that alone on 2 cell phones before.

BitTorrent (1)

ChrisBrown1 (212711) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450968)

I've often seen the same thing on my DSL connection (5MB/896KB), however when I BitTorrent a popular download, I always get my max bandwidth. So I'm sure my ISP is providing what they say they are. I suspect other culprits might be to blame, such as bandwidth of site visited, or mod_throttle on their end.

Hell yeah (1)

ezwip (974076) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450972)

I called Comcast and I was like yo I'm watching your commercial and it says my bandwidth is blah blah blah but I test it all the time and it's 1/10 of blah blah blah. Then they said yeah well we are the only cable company so if you don't like it move to blah blah blah. ;)

Cox (2, Informative)

remembertomorrow (959064) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450983)

I have Cox Cable, 5mbps down, 2mbps. I regularly download at 680 k/s (5.3mbps) and upload at 280 k/s (2.1mbps).

I have never had a problem with their service.

It is just advertising for the most part.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15450987)

Remember that things like DSL are 'last-mile' technologies. They only effect the theoretical maximum over the wires going from your ISP to you (and for DSL, it varies depending on how close you are physically to SAI of your ISP). This connection is very rarely the limiting factor in your actual connection speed for a randomly chosen internet destination. What is worst, if you are a gamer, latency is probably much more important to you ... and I bet your ISP isn't advertising that little fact at all. It is mostly just smoke and mirrors to get you to pay more or to lure more customers.

Bit Versus Byte (4, Insightful)

Wizarth (785742) | more than 7 years ago | (#15450989)

Something I've heard from my friends a lot is that they don't realise companies sell their connection speeds in BITS per second.

Myself, I have 512Kb/s down, and as a rule of thumb I divide by 10 to get it in bytes. I get at best 54KB/s downloads, which works out by this rule.

I know, a byte is 8 bits, but as a rule of thumb, dividing by 10 seems to include overhead.

I know my 512Kb/s ADSL connection doesn't rate against these 3Mb/s cable connections, but, this is my experience, learn from it what you will.

Re:Bit Versus Byte (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451026)

That's probably fair - the data's coming in ATM cells - they're 53 bytes long with a 5-byte header so you're gonna lose 10% right there

iPerf kicks much ass (2, Informative)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451000)

"What practices and tools do you use to test your bandwidth speed and"

Download it here http://dast.nlanr.net/Projects/Iperf/ [nlanr.net] From the website: "Iperf is a tool to measure maximum TCP bandwidth, allowing the tuning of various parameters and UDP characteristics. Iperf reports bandwidth, delay jitter, datagram loss. "

No one gets the full speed (0)

What_the_F! (951475) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451002)

Noone has or ever will get max speed out of their connection. Just like 100 MB ethernet noone ever get 100 MB that is what the rating is based upon Ideal condidtions. So suck it up. BTW Very bottom on time warner's page for Road runner cable access states>>>>>>> Actual speeds may vary.

Its is (1)

Dj-Zer0 (576280) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451005)

the speed of your link doesn't have anything to do with an average through put you get.

Speed tests are totally dependable on where your testing from, as a speakeasy 6MB/768KB customer i know that i get my best speed test against the seattle one because thats where i am located. But then again since speakeasy have awsome peering i can usuaully get a decent test to other parts of the united states. I usually get about 5.1 or 5.2 max on speed tests which for me is ok.

DSL speeds totally depends on your loop length and the state of the physical copper, (noise etc), even though the loop length will gurantee a certain speed in theory its always good to have your line tested for noise.

With cable its a differnt story since if your in a area where there is a larger cable subscriber population with alot of leechers your bound to get a hit on the speed. but with my previous experiences with comcast i have no run into such incident except once which occured because of bad physical medium,

I Strongly recomed that you have a technician come to your grandma`s house and have the loop tested, bad cabeling can always be a culprint. Since most DSL and cable providers have enough bandwidth running in their backbone. If you don't agree with me tracerotue is your friend, do a simple traceroute to couple of differnt places. If your first 2-3 hops are not below 10MS you should consider switching ISPs

my solution: I installed a DSL splitter (5, Informative)

dmoen (88623) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451006)

At my old house, I was on a 1.5 Mb/s DSL plan, but I never got more than 1.0 Mb/s, and just before I moved, it had degraded to 600 Kb/s. I was using the standard 'put a filter on every phone jack' method, the only method that the ISP would tell me about. I tried the 3 Mb/s plan, but the speed was actually worse, so they bumped me back down to 1.5 Mb/s.

I just moved to a new house. This time, I decided to do things right, and had a DSL splitter [homephonewiring.com] installed at the point where the phone line enters the house. [My splitter looks just like the one in the picture.] The previous owner had had unacceptably low DSL speed, but with the splitter installed, I'm within about 8% of the theoretical maximum on the 3 Mb/s plan. The phone line between the NID mounted on the outside wall of my house and the phone exchange is likely not perfect, which may account for the 8% degradation.

Note that the rated maximum speed (3 Mb/s in my case) accounts for not just the actual payload data being transmitted, but all of the protocol overhead as well: TCP headers, IP headers, etc (there are multiple protocol layers, each with overhead). Your typical internet speed test is not able to directly account for all of the protocol overhead, so your data will be transmitted slower than the rated line speed.

Doug Moen

Re:my solution: I installed a DSL splitter (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451174)

Before you go out and buy something like this, just take an extension cord and a laptop out to the main telco box. Some cable, a screwdriver, and a pair of snips will just about cover what you need.

However, the telcos get really bitchy about you tapping into the box. Be descreet.

Anyway, test the line in the house, then do out to the box and test it there.

I've done it both ways and I have not seen any real difference. Mostly snake oil in my opinion.

I get most of the numbers I should... (1)

mkettler (6309) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451013)

I just ran the speed test from speakeasy.net (a competing ISP) against my comcast cable connection. I got 6154 kb/s down 714kbps up.

Admittedly that's at 11pm EST, from New York to Maryland, but that's a pretty solid percentage of 6mbps.

Are you sure your grandmother's PC isn't a spam-zombie and that's sucking up all her bandwidth? Or perhaps the speed-test site itself is overloaded? (They should limit the count, but you never know)

I suck up. (5, Interesting)

patryn20 (812091) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451015)

To be blunt, where I am there is only one choice for internet service. The single provider may change, depending on what municipality, but in the end you only have one choice in your apartment. So, when I have an issue I suck up. I act stupid and helpless and ultra sickly sweet. I thank them profusely every step of the way.

It may not be as satisfying as being intelligent or righteously indignant on the phone, but it gets great results. I consistently get a tech out same day (from ATT (SBC), no less). I have problems where my circuit speed will drop drastically (from 3Mbps to 145Kbps) on a regular basis, and now that I have started being saccharine sweet, it is generally fixed almost immediately.

Simply point out that it is running incredibly slow (say something about images and pages taking FOREVER to load, don't sound techie) and that you logged in following THEIR instructions (thank you guys for giving me those previously, oh thank you thank you) and checked the speed and saw that it was slower than normal (from what you guys told me before), and that you would greatly appreciate it if they could fix it (since I am so helpless and LOVE you guys), and please help me, and oh lord thank you so much for giving me your time.

Other than that, make sure your router isn't causing you problems. Swap it out with a borrowed one or something. I had a bad one that was destroying my throughput. Check cables, wall sockets, everything. Make sure you can eliminate everything on your end before you call them.

However, if they ask you to test things again, gleefully (pretend) to do it. It makes them happy and gets you better service later. After all, it is not really that hard to sit there reading the newspaper and drinking coffee and simply saying "Nope, still doesn't work."

Re:I suck up. (1)

ezwip (974076) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451118)

I still prefer the... you are an idiot method. The guy you sent out to repair the imaginary problem on my end did nothing but waste everyones time but I did allow him to swap out all new network cards and leave the old ones cuz I'm a nice guy. Now, about getting what I asked for originally... oh you are confused fine I'll settle with another free month of service. Thanks for your help dumbass.

Packet overhead? (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451016)

Does the tool you use to measure speed only count the data payload size, or does it count the size of all packet headers involved (including the lowest protocols used over the cable line)? eg. over ethernet cables [wareonearth.com] (just a dumb cable), you can lose 8% speed just due to packet headers...

Some things I've found. (2, Interesting)

jafo (11982) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451017)

One "trick" they use is that in our area (Colorado, QWest), the DSL speed rates they quote are all the ATM frame rates. ATM has around 20% overhead, so this means that a 1.5mbps line will give you more around 1.25mbps throughput.

I don't recall that I've ever gotten anything less than that on DSL across the line. I've run routers handling the "megacentral", the ISP end of the DSL connection, and have had more than a bit of opportunity to test DSL connection performance.

As far as cable, we have Comcast in this area, and are paying for the higher service level. I do notice that when the school year starts, we tend to have performance issues for a month or two. This has happened on several occasions. So, instead of 6 to 8mbps (they recently upgraded to 8mbps, before that it was 6), we get more like 3 to 4. Annoying, but not a huge issue.

I have noticed that on the Comcast sales literature, they say "N mbps *" where the * links to something saying "No guarantees".

However, most of the time I'm able to get 8mbps, when the remote end can handle it. I have servers hosted at a location where I know I have plenty of bandwidth. I just downloaded the Ubuntu Dapper ISO over cable:

730740736 bytes transferred in 710 seconds (1005.4K/s)

So, that's right at 8mbps. This is not unusual.

It's important to realize that there are several places where there could be performance issues though. The line, the directly connected ISP bandwidth, the server you're downloading from, and everything in between.

Winging at your ISP for problems which are outside their control isn't going to be helping anyone. If you are downloading Dapper right now via FTP from the main site, the server is almost certainly not going to be able to handle 8mbps.

Another thing I'd wonder is whether maybe your grandmother might have a virus or two, or perhaps there's some file-sharing going on? All these lines have a fraction of the upstream bandwidth that they do down. If you are pushing out much data, it interferes with incoming data. If you do any performance testing, make SURE that you don't have anything else using it, either outgoing or incoming.

Hope this helps.

Sean

Some things to remember (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451020)

  • DSL speed drops logarithmically (roughly) with distance from the connection point (exchange).
  • Lots of ISPs seem to use Java applets for their speed test. The connection is often faster than the java...
  • Cable is shared with other users.
  • Often your ISP is just reselling someone else's DSL connection. In this case, they don't control the network between your front door and theirs, they have to take what they are given.
  • DSL is (I believe) an ATM network. You are trying to route TCP/IP over it. The overhead involved is significant (up to 20% of physical layer traffic).

Now, I live in inner-suburban Adelaide, South Australia. I subscribe to a 24Mbps ADSL provider. They own the equipment at the exchange. However, because I am a couple of miles from the exchange, I only see about 12Mbps (I know, isn't it awful? sob sob, poor me...) The physical condition of the copper between your front door and the exchange can also have a big effect on performance; here I seem to be lucky again.

In general, the 802.11b link between my laptop and router is waaaay slower than my DSL.

Bunch of frauds and liars... (1)

1053r (903458) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451031)

Cox cable says that with their shiney 10mbps plan, I can get UP TO 10mbps. Notice it says "up to", that means "you won't ever get more than 10mbps, sucker". They realize that most people don't really need more than around 600kbps for surfing, "doing" email, and getting their 'tunes. So they inflate their claims, and the technically illiterate bite the bait and buy it instead of DSL because it "Gives you the speed you need!" (If you live where I live, you'll recognize that from a tv ad). The only people who notice they aren't getting what they paid for are heavy file sharers, hard-core gamers, and geeks like slashdotters who know the difference between kbps and mbps. These customers only form a fraction of their consumer base, so they just ignore the complaints and carry on cheating and stealing (until one day everything will be downloaded, from movies to books to software. Then people will start realizing that joe with dsl can download episode III just as fast as jeff with cable, even though one promises 4mbps and the other 10mbps)

Surewest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451041)

I guess I'm very fortunate. My ISP, Surewest [surewest.com], offers 10 and 20Mbps symmetrical speeds for great prices ($30 and $50 respectively if you include phone or TV service and year contract). I have the 20Mbps package and I get full speeds through their network as well as most other areas around the US consistently. It is nice to know that you have an alternative to the behemoths such as Comcast and AT&T. I always wonder why there aren't more companies like Surewest popping up around the country. I know there are projects (i.e. municiple) which are trying to offer fiber services, but there seems to be no large effort other than maybe Verizon's FiOS. I know it is expensive, and I think much of the time you find these service offerings in newly developed areas, but I live in the oldest part of Sacramento yet Surewest still made a concerted effort to run the fiber through my neighborhood. A Surewest company executive said publicly that they will not make money at first with their aggressive deployment, but eventually I think that it will pay off (it already has started to). Of course companies like BellSouth and AT&T have a very shortsighted view of things.. imagine if they put more resources into running fiber to their customers. They are delaying the inevitable, while at the same time allowing their competitors the chance to get a foothold. They don't give a shit about faster speeds.

My beef (1)

Emperor Tiberius (673354) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451051)

My beef with cable is that they frequently have too many users sharing one connection. My cable provider advertises 6000/2000 kbps (down/up). I usually get these speeds at, say, four in the morning. At five in the evening the speeds drop to about 300/100 kbps (down/up). If you call and complain, you're told that it's your computer (because you're running UNIX). Give me a break.

If I could just afford that full T1...

Speeds are Not Guaranteed (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451056)

I do tech support for a major cable internet company and the terms of service does not guarantee a service level. There are too many factors to take into account. For one, cable companies are still subject to the phone lines at one point-our networks only go so far. We have our own speedtest for customers that they can check the speed along our network, but after that there can be issues. Remember after 9/11? It was easy to visit most websites on the west coast but forget visiting a European site. Spyware/adware can really choke a connection. This is usually a big hitter for many people. And have you called tech support? Most of us try to do what we can to clear things up or at least find the source of the problem. I am often surprised by folks who accept the problem and live with it, rather than calling in and trying to solve the problem.

RWIN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451057)

Can't speak for all instances, but when upgrading your account, say from 1.5MB to 5MB it becomes necessary to adjust your TCP receive window. Qwest receives speed complaints all the time when customers upgrade, and this usually puts them to rest.

Class Action Lawsuit, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451067)

It would sure be fun to see some lawyer try a class action for fraud on behalf of everyone with broadband. Opinions?

33K Up on $45 a month cable (1)

marcybots (473417) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451068)

I get time warner and all I get is 33k upload and around three hundred something download. That is just pathetic for $45 dollars a month. BUt I dont dare complain, because then they will wonder why I need all that bandwidth!

Speed Tests Reliable? (2, Interesting)

fohat (168135) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451072)

My experience in this 65 year old apartment building is that the copper wire here won't support DSL above 4 megabits. I recently switched to cable internet (Comcast, Maryland) and saw a huge increase in available bandwidth. They originally promised a higher upload speed (I apparently purchased 6/384 and thought I was getting 6/768) and when I called to inquire I was offered 8/768 for 10$ more a month.

I'm able to pretty much get full speed out of my connection, but most of the times when I do speed tests on say Speakeasy.net or through other test sites, I frequently get reports that indicate half of my potential speed. I have been wondering if perhaps these tests are not very accurate at all, and would suggest connecting to a nice fast torrent to get a feel for how fast your connection is.

Works for me, anyway.

i get consistent speed (1)

ebatsky (582457) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451107)

i have rogers cable 6mbps plan

if im downloading from, say, newsgroups, i will consistently and at any time of day get 6mbps

if im downloading from some random website, i will get random speed anywhere from 50kb/s to 700kb/s

just for this comment, i ran a speed test at http://www.bandwidthplace.com/speedtest/ [bandwidthplace.com]

result:
Communications 4 megabits per second
Storage 483.9 kilobytes per second
1MB file download 2.1 seconds

funny thing is, i can start up my newsgroups client right now and get 6mbps (from an external usenet service, my isp does not provide one)

so, maybe the bandwidth speed test isnt all that accurate after all?

Which speed test? (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451114)

What speed test did you use? You need to use one on your ISP's network. If you use something on like dslreports.com you are depending on all the links in between. I'm on RoadRunner Premium and my test shows I'm getting my full 8Mb/sec.

Mystery explained: Signup X Mbit, get X Mbit... (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451116)

You get those 6 Mbit downstream, X Mbit upstream between your DSL modem and the line card
at the carrier. Some DSL modems actually tell you how a lot about the connection:

ADSL-State: ADSL Active
Mode: ADSL
Manufacturer: ADSL Modems Inc.
DSL-Version: 1.0
ADSL Carrier Equipment
Manufacturer: Texas Instruments
DSL-Version: 1.0

Line capacity kBit/s 6816 1112
ATM-rate kBit/s 2304 224
Payload-rate kBit/s 2087 203
Latencymode interleaved interleaved
Latency ms 16 16
Frame Coding Rate kBit/s 32 32
FEC Coding Rate kBit/s 160 32
Trellis Coding Rate kBit/s 364 68
Negotation fixed fixed
Signal/Squelch dB 28 28
Line attenuation dB 23 21
Status 4ebc 6
        LOS LOF FEC CRC NCD HEC
CPE 0 0 26 0 1 0
COE 0 0 0 0 5 0

I have 2Mbit downstream and 192 KB upstream (I know my upstream sucks).

So looking at what my modem tells me I'm doing fine here. However that's
just the raw interface speed. That has not much bearing on the kind of
performance I can expect downloading from some server on the internet.
First of all it's all my traffic goes through four routers at my provider.
I have no idea what kind of bandwidth is available in the internal network
of my provider but I'm sure that they favor business customers over home
customers. Then my packets leave my ISP and then it's up to all the networks
on the way to that server, including how much CPU, IO and network bandwidth
in general at that server is used up. You might want to look at those
2/3/6Mbit whatever Mbit you've been promised as the theoretic maximum. BTW,
the highest download rate I ever achieved with 2Mbit downstream was 220Kb/s
that 1.6 Mbits which is not bad but that was coming from an internal server at
my ISP.

Hope I shed some light on this mystery :-)

Don't forget... (1)

s-twig (775100) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451126)

there are many variables especially with ADSL, distances from exchange, line noise, etc.

I've got a 24Mbps connection, but the most I can train up at is about 3MBs. It's got a lot to do with my proximity to the exchange.

I'm happy with comcast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15451128)

I've had comcast for about 2 years, and I'm very happy with the speed. While downloading a knoppix dvd iso (from 2 places within my state, one from the same city) I hit 13mbps (WOOT!). I also live about 5 miles from a big comast service station, so that helps. I usually download from between 750kb/s to 900kb/s.

Tail Speeds (1)

skingers6894 (816110) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451130)

ISPs sell on the basis of connection line rate.

There is often a disconnect between these advertised rates and the end-to-end experience.

This is somewhat (though not exactly) like PCs being sold on the basis of CPU speed alone. There are so many other factors relating to overall system performance.

Yes there should be a better measure. Will there be?

Probably not.

Yes, they rip you off, but... (1, Insightful)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451140)

Sometimes it's your onboard LAN. Check what its maximum speed is supposed to be. I assume that whoever posted this article thought of that but you'd be amazed how many don't think of it or just don't know.

How are you measuring it? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451147)

First off, you have to be confident that the bandwidth limitation isn't occuring somewhere outside the ISP's control.

Secondly, perhaps they're talking about the MAC-level bitrate, and you're measuring the bitrate of application-level data? When you figure that the typical application uses TCP/IP for network comms, there's a *lot* of overhead associated with the feeding and grooming of those protocols.

Not all of them (1)

AstroDrabb (534369) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451170)

I have Road Runner through Bright House Networks [mybrighthouse.com] here in Central Florida. I have had cable modem with them for the past 5 years and I have always gotten pretty close to the advertised speed. I use to have 5 Mbps. However, Bright House/Road Runner just upped the speed to 7Mbps for "free" and now I usually get close to 7Mbps. If I download from a site with a fat pipe, I actually get 10 Mbps (business class speed for $60/month) for the first few seconds and then I see it throttled down to 7Mbps.

The only thing I don't like about the deal is that instead of lowering the price to compete with DSL prices, they upped the speed which most people won't take advantage of. I wish I could pay less for a little less bandwidth. The only pricing options I can get are $45/month for 7Mbps or $30/month for 512K. That is a HUGE speed gap for only $15/month difference. If they dropped the price by $15 shouldn't that equate to about 2Mbps? Why can't I get half the speed for half the price?

Well, duh! (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 7 years ago | (#15451175)

my grandmother signed up for the 3Mbps DSL plan through Verizon, however a speed test said she was only getting 750Kbps. Why pay for the extra bandwidth when she's not getting it?

She's only paying for 3Mbps to the ISP and inside their systems. As with all communications, once it gets outside her ISP's border routers the speed is no longer in their control. If she's accessing some kid's p0rn site running on his dad's 56kbps modem in India, she's not going to get any more than 56kbps down the pipe! Add to that latency inherent in certain protocols, overseas link delays, etc., and you'll almost never get full speed to anywhere truly remote from your location.

Torrents are a good example for speed variability. Popular torrents are extremely fast when they're first released but as they age they get slower and slower because fewer people are seeding them. This morning I was downloading the Dapper Drake 6.06 release at 150 kilobytes/sec on my 1.5Mbps DSL, but often I'm lucky to see torrents download at 20-30 kilobytes/sec.

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