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Are these download speeds too slow for what I am paying for?

Last response: in Networking
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June 11, 2010 3:15:33 AM

Greetings.

I've been using Fairpoint (formerly Verizon) for a while now for DSL internet. There are four people in my household who use the internet, and we all experience the same things, whether using the wireless or wired internet. We have the 3.0 mbps internet service from Fairpoint. This is the best service that is offered in my area.

Doing a SpeedTest, I got this:


I figured this was to be expected - I don't believe many ISPs would give you exactly the speed that they are putting on the front page to attract customers. However, despite the SpeedTest results indicating download speeds of 1.5mb/s, the maximum we are able to download is 190kb/s at best - generally averaging 160kb/s. To make matters even worse, whenever anyone downloads, the internet slows down to ridiculously slow speeds until the download has finished.

A few random notes:
-To my knowledge we are all using CAT 5 network cables.
-Router: Cisco Valet M10 (we've used three separate routers over the past few years, all with the same issue)
-Modem: Westell 6100
-These download speeds happen for nearly all downloads. For example, Steam maxes out at 190kb/s, Microsoft.com downloads max at 180kb/s, etc. P2P downloads are the same way.
-My setup: Internet goes from the Modem -> Router -> Switch. I've connected directly to the Modem and directly to the Router with the same issues. Additionally, I have Lingo attached to the router, but it doesn't seem this affects anything, as these speeds are consistent whether or not that is plugged in.

Anyways, all of that to ask this question: given the service we are paying for, and the SpeedTest results, should I be expecting better downloads than 185kb/s, or is this about par for the course for the service I have?

Thanks for any assistance you can give me!
Anonymous
June 11, 2010 3:51:19 AM

Is this a Cable service or ADSL ?

If the latter, make sure the router is connected to the master socket (ie the first phone socket in from the street). Make sure all phones are filtered.
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June 11, 2010 4:30:42 AM

DSL has many factors that can effect the actual speed you get. Distance, other people on the line, condition of cabling...

1.5mbps is pretty slow by todays standards. It sounds like you're just not getting the 3mbps speed... and if you have a download at such a low speed, there's really nothing you can do about the internet being really slow while somebody is downloading something.

do you have any other isp options in your area?
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June 11, 2010 12:32:12 PM

Thanks for the quick posts!

Quote:
Is this a Cable service or ADSL ?

If the latter, make sure the router is connected to the master socket (ie the first phone socket in from the street). Make sure all phones are filtered.

My internet service is DSL. Because there is technically only one phone line into our house, I am almost positive it is on the master socket. We use Lingo, a VOIP service, for our telephone.

itadakimasu said:
DSL has many factors that can effect the actual speed you get. Distance, other people on the line, condition of cabling...

1.5mbps is pretty slow by todays standards. It sounds like you're just not getting the 3mbps speed... and if you have a download at such a low speed, there's really nothing you can do about the internet being really slow while somebody is downloading something.

do you have any other isp options in your area?

Unfortunately, I cannot find any other ISP options in my area. I would love to be able to switch, but all the ISPs that I know of say on their websites that my address is not in their area of service.

I guess I'm mainly wondering if I should have this huge of a difference between SpeedTest results and actual download speeds. 1.5mb/s -> 185kb/s is a huge difference, and it just makes me wonder if I am somehow doing something incorrectly.
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June 11, 2010 3:31:00 PM

1.5mb = 192KB

Are you sure you aren't getting 185KB instead of 185kb?
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June 11, 2010 3:46:48 PM

Kewlx25 said:
1.5mb = 192KB

Are you sure you aren't getting 185KB instead of 185kb?

Hmm. I'm not sure I completely understand what you are asking, but SpeedTest clearly rates my connection as 1.5mb, and downloads are always at 185kb, if not less. I understand the difference between "mb" and "kb" (1024kb = 1mb), but I'm not sure I understand the difference between "mb" and "KB."

I do know that a 1.5mb file, for instance, takes about 10s to download as opposed to the theoretical 1s that it should take (if the download server could handle 1.5mb, of course). This is all assuming that SpeedTest is correct and I get a 1.5mb connection.
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Best solution

June 11, 2010 4:06:56 PM

lower case = bits
upper case = bytes
1 byte = 8 a bits

1.5mb(bits) = 192KB(bytes)

Most bandwidth testers show bits because line rates are typically advertised with bits. Download speeds for file transfers/etc are usually done in bytes because the basic unit of data stored is at least a byte.
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June 11, 2010 4:24:57 PM

Kewlx25 said:
lower case = bits
upper case = bytes
1 byte = 8 a bits

1.5mb(bits) = 192KB(bytes)

Most bandwidth testers show bits because line rates are typically advertised with bits. Download speeds for file transfers/etc are usually done in bytes because the basic unit of data stored is at least a byte.

Interesting. I never actually paid attention to that at all.

This is a list of Fairpoint's services for residential "high speed" internet. http://www.fairpoint.com/northern_ne/residential/internet/highspeed/residential_high_speed.jsp. To me, it looks like it's megabits?

So judging by all this information, it appears that I am getting the correct speed for my downloads? I never even thought it might be megabits, because when I spoke to the CSR at Fairpoint the other day, she quoted us as having 3.0 megabytes.
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June 11, 2010 6:19:31 PM

parkcarshere said:
Interesting. I never actually paid attention to that at all.

This is a list of Fairpoint's services for residential "high speed" internet. http://www.fairpoint.com/northern_ne/residential/internet/highspeed/residential_high_speed.jsp. To me, it looks like it's megabits?

So judging by all this information, it appears that I am getting the correct speed for my downloads? I never even thought it might be megabits, because when I spoke to the CSR at Fairpoint the other day, she quoted us as having 3.0 megabytes.


That page shows everything as bits. I have a feeling the person who was talking to you didn't know the difference between bytes and bits. They really should know what they're selling.

I also noticed they have the letters in the format of Mb. The general rule is upper B is bytes and lower b is bits. I think it's clearer to say "mb" instead of "Mb" because the upper "M" might confuse at a quick glance.

But no matter if they say bits or bytes, 99.9% of the time, line speeds are in bits. I've seen my ISP typo with MB once instead of mb/Mb.
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June 11, 2010 6:51:42 PM

Best answer selected by parkcarshere.
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November 18, 2010 1:27:03 AM

Here's the full deal.

SpeedTest.net can be inaccurate depending on the ISP you are using, and they are giving you results in Megabits per second, not Megabyte's per second, which is what any download manager will actually show your download speed as, when downloading files. So, if for instance you pay Comcast, Verizon, or any other high speed provider for what they quote as a "3Mbps" package, you should expect your actual download speeds to be somewhere in the 300kBps range, anything slightly more (350-400kBps) or less (260-280kBps) is within reasonable bounds. Downloading at 140-180kBps, when you're paying for 300kBps, isn't optimal, and I would call customer support to see if they can resolve the issue.

Believe it or not, Your modem, and in some instances your router can be responsible for a slower than optimal speed. I currently subscribe to Comcast's 8Mbps with PowerBoost. I was using an older Motorola Surfboard 4200, which had served me well. Using that Modem I wasn't getting the full advantage of PowerBoost, and my average sustained download speed was somewhere in the 600KBps range, with PowerBoost Burst of upto 900KBps. I replaced that Cable modem with a Motorola SBG900 Wireless Surfboard Gateway (cable modem/wireless router combo), and my average sustained download speed went up to 800-900KBps, with PowerBoost giving me burst of upto 2400KBps (2.4MBps actual). For those with Cable internet, I would also suggest the Motorola Surfboard 5120, as I get really good results with that modem, as well.

For anyone wondering why I say SpeedTest.net can be inaccurate when testing your download speeds, there are a few reasons:

If you're using Cable internet the results you get can very greatly especially if your ISP uses something like Comcast's "PowerBoost" which gives you a temporary increase in download speed, but then drops your speed back down to the subscribed speed. PowerBoost will get people speed readings of 14Mbps, to 30Mbps when using SpeedTest.net, even though they are paying for an 8Mbps constant connection. SpeedTest.net, and other similar websites don't run long enough for the none PowerBoost speed's to kick in. This is why your buddy down the street might get a score of 24mbps when using SpeedTest.net, which makes you think his 8mbps Cable internet consistently blows away your 7-10mbps DSL, when in reality only a small portion of a large file will get downloaded at that speed, before the "burst" from PowerBoost subsides, and you're back to downloading at 800KBps. Trust me, I get those same speed readings when I visit SpeedTest, or Cnet, but when I download a 1GB HD video, the majority of the file downloads at around 800-900KBps.
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November 22, 2010 4:12:32 AM

bottom line, yes we are paying too much for too little...

20-30mega BITS is only 2-3 megabytes...with the way powerboost works... a dsl line with a 10 MEGABYTE subsciption is much faster, and dedicated...even better if you can get an optical solution.

I told a comcast tech this once during a visit and he seemed baffled xD

when he tested our network, and saw it was faster then most other customers. He was put off... "these speeds are fast, what exactly is the issue?"

it's not what i'm paying for... #1 my upload speed is 300-512k a second, #2 why are we paying $40-$90 a month for dsl speeds...on a cable line?! when 1 MEGABYTE dedicated Download speed, was where we were at before cable came into the picture?? and then somehow everything was meassured in mega bits..

this should be 30 MEGABYTES not 2 megabytes!

For that he had no answer...except for $120 I can upgrade my service to "small bizness package".. with the same speed ratings... with a promised speed of 10-30 megabits per second... and 700KB uploads... then he added, technically you are @ 30+ megabytes per second... but your shareing that connection with 30-100 other people in the WAN! So basically your paying for everyone to use your internet, weither they paid for it or not..


ugh... seriously? This is criminal...but overall cable can be much faster...perhaps because it allows multiple connections..to a server that your downloading from. and various other technologies along the way.

congress asked them to bring us better speeds... it's been a long time coming and so far no one has made good on their promises...When do we take this to the next level? and what is it do we have to do to get them to act accordingly?

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November 22, 2010 11:21:26 PM

pazsion said:
bottom line, yes we are paying too much for too little...

20-30mega BITS is only 2-3 megabytes...with the way powerboost works... a dsl line with a 10 MEGABYTE subsciption is much faster, and dedicated...even better if you can get an optical solution.

I told a comcast tech this once during a visit and he seemed baffled xD

when he tested our network, and saw it was faster then most other customers. He was put off... "these speeds are fast, what exactly is the issue?"

it's not what i'm paying for... #1 my upload speed is 300-512k a second, #2 why are we paying $40-$90 a month for dsl speeds...on a cable line?! when 1 MEGABYTE dedicated Download speed, was where we were at before cable came into the picture?? and then somehow everything was meassured in mega bits..

this should be 30 MEGABYTES not 2 megabytes!

For that he had no answer...except for $120 I can upgrade my service to "small bizness package".. with the same speed ratings... with a promised speed of 10-30 megabits per second... and 700KB uploads... then he added, technically you are @ 30+ megabytes per second... but your shareing that connection with 30-100 other people in the WAN! So basically your paying for everyone to use your internet, weither they paid for it or not..


ugh... seriously? This is criminal...but overall cable can be much faster...perhaps because it allows multiple connections..to a server that your downloading from. and various other technologies along the way.

congress asked them to bring us better speeds... it's been a long time coming and so far no one has made good on their promises...When do we take this to the next level? and what is it do we have to do to get them to act accordingly?



Well, you can always buy a "dedicated" line. But those go for about $300 per megabit, but they you get what you pay for.

If you want a dedicated line, pay for it, otherwise you can continue to pay for your shared residential line.
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November 30, 2010 1:19:55 AM

I still think you are not getting the maximum as your plan is 3 Mb which means around 400KB/s DL speed.
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December 4, 2010 3:30:53 AM

right..

i've been looking over cell phones plans..$2 per megabit xD

for real?

Isn't this price gougeing..?? Wasn't there some set standard of cost per bit etc back in the 1980's?early 90's?

mostly based on material,maintenance, and power...

Since we are able to use better technology, which is better for profits.. where have those profits been going the past 20 years?

Increased infracstructure costs? load? due to more customers??

shouldn't really be a big thing these days...

but then again how many of us are on docsis? 3.0?

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