Are True Broadbands: Facts or Myths?
Alright a lot of us have broadband or experienced it by now. But are we really getting what the Broadband operators advertise or promote?
I say in part but my observations are limited to just a few operators. Do I have hard core numbers to show, facts to lay on the table. No. I am a scientific person as inclined by my inquisitive nature. But I have spent months watching, monitoring, and trying tweaks to improve and see the the speeds I get.
Didn't collect the hard numbers, so shame on me. So these are observations. It may help some of you to identify a problem area. If a broadband operator reads this, I welcome any clarification or comments.
A little background, on the net first with modems since 1995. And for the last two years with a broadband wireless provider (live in a rural area). For me I have swung more dependent on the Internet as I have severed my land line and gone totally dependent on Skype.
Whenever I log on to my machines I usually have some sort of monitoring service on. ( Current computer powers and ram allow more background operations). For windows I pull up task-manager and usually monitor my CPU / RAM usage (seeing how hard I am using my machine) and when networking it set to network - how much bandwidth I am using and at what rate.
Plus I do watch my hard drive and mother board temperatures - am I stressing the machine? Cooling it enough?
So I am a geek, monitor tweak freak.
The monitoring source.
For windows based computers Ctrl-Alt-Delete brings up the Task-Manager. For your network go the networking tab. Then you have your options under view in the menu bar. I prefer to monitor total and sent, and depending on need pick an update speed (normal is usually good). Additionally than select columns, here I like to know the usage percent and rates for both sent(interval) and received (interval) plus total.
On Linux my Unburnt has a monitor equivalent to Task manager and I have that put in the toolbar like panel. Here memory, CPU, and Bytes per interval is graphically displayed. Graphs tell a story and a picture.
Enough preliminary discussion let's now get down to the nitty gritty.
Now what have I observed.
For surfing general websites without intensive graphics or just small video files. The broadband performs superbly. Including uploading small files. But I have encountered a problem when doing the bigger downloads. Big down loads over 200 mb. Medium weight 50 -200 mb multiple, and large numbers of 30 mb. Things go fine for a while and then wham, the speed drops to 33 Kbps from 300 -500 kbps, and stays there for hours on end.
I really started noticing this when downloading the various flavours of Ubuntu. Previously a friend asked me if he noticed slow speeds on the broadband. He thought it was slowing down.
Since then for the last four months, I have been keeping my monitors going .
So what have I done and seen.
Operating Systems: Windows XP vs Ubuntu
Without any tweaks or additional software. The Linux system does overall download faster. But again both get crunched once the speed hits 33 kbps.
I spread the load and usually favor Opera, Firefox, and IE7 in that order. I have applied the faster settings to both Firefox and Opera - using Fasterfox, and more connections with Opera. Overall Opera is better than the others especially for smaller downloads - while you are making up your mind where to save the down load it seems Opera does some precaching. Firefox and IE 7 nothing till you say go. However once again, after the crunch of 33 kbps hits, none of them help.
Doing the things like the story of David Kapar and using Lvlord. Please some other registry optimization tricks. Help increase the speed. But again once that choke hits - forget it. No difference with or without the tweaks.
All those niffty softwares promising faster downloards. I have never observed any substantial increase in speeds for either Broadband or Modem conditions for downloaders. But where they really shine for me, is the pause, restart, reenabling a partial or stalled download. So I defintely recommend those tools for that. It gives a better peace when downloading. Again as with all the above once that 33 Kbps crunch hits - I am not going to improve my network performance.
Same observation similar as with Downloaders.
Huh? Yeah an old computer with an older NIC card. But I am using three different machines (desktops) with 100mbps cards. My friends have been using the newest Laptops with or without wire connections and reporting the same. Another friend with a DSL connection (mine is wireless), I have seen his do the same.
For Windows XP's Tweak it, Comcast.net has an Optimize XP site. For the most part these tweaks do help. But I strongly disagree with the author's statement on Firefox. Yes it is a slower loading explorer, and it might be less secure. But put it this way the vast majority of people explore with IE 6 or 7 so which one are you going to break into to? IE 6 or 7, I stand a better chance, for there are more tools to break it, it's workings are better known, it is well studied. So I say the author didn't carefully think that one out.
He does point to Lvllord site or application to increase you open connections which will help your network connection speed. Till the choke happens.
Time of day or place: Hey just like Rush hour a perfectly good interstate becomes a parking lot. So Internet traffic can bog you down. That is why a mirror site close to you may not work, go around the world and you might be surprised.
Operating System I'd go with a Linux first.
Patience: Yes that one does help. I have seen a torrent trickle along for hours and then all of sudden kick into high gear in the wee hours of the morning (using a monitor with a long interval setting showed that one).
Browser: Opera for the smaller stuff definitely. But otherwise a good downloader like downthem all. (free).
Quite frankly, I think some broadband operators have some sort of restrictor on bandwidth and how long or much you can download. Or something sensitive to heavey downloads and treating them as an internet hazard (Denial of Service, virus).
But the net is a finicky place. Time of Day, place, Denial of service, viruses, line breaks, maintenance all affect speed by amount of traffic occurring.
Doing Tweaks and some optimization does help. But why the consistent clamp to around 33 kbps for the last several months since I have been monitoring my network speeds?
Anyone else experiencing slow Broadband?
Revision 2009/01/09 Update
This to update this HUB. After going through a few things this last year, and doing the math and deeper investigation into the matter. I have some recommendations. For me, I ended out inheriting this connection from a friend, so all the details weren't known at time of publication.
Here is the information:
1. The account I have has a download/upload limit of 8GB per month. (check your terms, they may have similar restraints too). For most usage as in just surfing the web this is no problem. The problem arises in Movie, or big file downloads (like a Linux operating system).
2.The 8 GB is rationed on a daily basis, which amounts to 266 MB daily. So when I hit my daily limit, the ISP throttles me back to a 56K modem speed. There is no stacking or accumulating this daily rate either. 266 MB whether I have or have not downloaded even for a month.
So Read the fine print of terms, of your agreements. To truly get the broadband you may have to pay a higher premium.
Revision 2009/01/27 Broadband shaping
As if it's not enought to limit your account on the amount of Data for up/down load. There is another way Broadband providers may limit your bandwidth. It is call "Shaping Traffic". Comcast has come under fire for restricting P2P traffic. They supposedly have loosened up, but still reserve the right to limit what they term Bandwidth hogs.
A company called Sandvine provides network management tools. Comcast is one of their customers and brags it has 13 of the top 100 service providers. ATT and Cox won't disclose any of their vendor relationships.
Now from the comment sections and general feel of articles this is a hot potatoe. The bottomline is what does your contract with the provide detail. If they have reserved the right to limit traffic, for whatever reason than there isn't much one can do. Complain yes, but you signed the agreement. If there is nothing stating in the agreement about restrictions, except if you are engaging in illegal activities like Denial of Service, etc, and you have no up/down load cap limits than they are not maintaining there obligation.
The answer for them is to expand service, to meet the needs of their subscribers. With limits written in, or shaping being allowed, they aren't obligated to expanding.
For True Broadband I like what this man is doing in France. Xavier Niel, through Iliad and Free.fr, is providinng his customers with broadband service. One flat rate (not mutilple services with various caps and limits), a connection about 28 megabytes per second over DSL, free IPTV, free Wi-Fi hub, and unlimited voice calls to some 70 countries. He expands service as needed and adds features too, without adding extra charges. Read the article at Gigaom.
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