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Why does my download speed vary so much from server to server?

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  • Download
  • Servers
  • Networking
Last response: in Networking
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July 19, 2012 2:28:59 AM


Hello,
I just had installed cable modem with Charter, on a 30Mbps speed plan. Charter provided a new Arris Docsis 3.0 modem (combined for internet and telephone - MTA), and I have a Linksys Valet M20 wireless router (10/100, I believe) and a Linksys 5 port (unmanaged, 10/100) switch (with CAT6 cable) to connect to computers and HDTV in other rooms. When I check Download speeds on speedtest.net, my results will vary from 27-29 Mbps, with ping at 23-25 ms (actually hit 40 Mbps one time) to 12.5-13 Mbps, with ping typicaly 42-46ms. Multiple tests were run over about 3 hours in the eveniing. The only difference I see that distinguishes the speed of download is the server I connect to for the speedtest - I am in Suffolk, VA, and when I connect to the Reston, Va servers, I consistently hit the high DL speeds on all my computers (wireless and ethernet) around the house, whether I have 1 or all computers on line at the same time. {Results were the same whether on Firefox or IE and whether XP or Win7 professional.} But when the server I connect to is in Richmond VA (Comcast), which is much closer, or Wash DC (same distance as Reston), I consistently hit 12-13 Mbps. Upload speeds are consistently between 3.0-3.19 for all tests. My question: Is it just the server that dictates the speed I am showing or could there be a bottleneck in my home equipment, or perhaps a difference in how my equipment connects to different servers (something that could be adjusted in my settings?)? If home equipment is the likely bottleneck, please suggest some alternative software, tweaking and/or equipment changes.
Thanks

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July 19, 2012 7:01:15 PM

It's nothing in your home. The internet does not always route packets the closest distance. If you send a file to your other computer though the internet, the data can travel out of state before it gets to the destination.
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July 20, 2012 2:59:05 AM

hang-the-9 said:
It's nothing in your home. The internet does not always route packets the closest distance. If you send a file to your other computer though the internet, the data can travel out of state before it gets to the destination.


Ok - thanks - I realize the routing across the internet is not always direct, but I was wondering if modifying my equipment or settings might have a beneficial effect - I had talked to a Linksys rep via chat and he was trying to sell me on a different router (a gigabit router, eg, Linksys e4200v2 or EA3500/EA4500) that he was suggesting would increase my internet speed. I was not sure how that would be, but that is why I wondered what impact the router might have on my connection speed - is it causing a bottle neck because it does not have gigabit ports or other features a newer one router would have? My router has 10/100 ports but still is able at times (when pinging off the right server) to hit 29+Mbps and I am only on a plan that maxes at 30Mbps, so it seemed to me I was capable of getting all I was promised, at least some of the time. And I was wondering if the settings in my current router (that may be changeable) might interface better with some servers than other, causing there to be more delay/latency in connecting/transferring, and thus overall a slower transfer speed. I just don't know enough about the impact, if any, of the router on the external system, ie interface with WWW. Any further thoughts/guidance on that?
RBinVA
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July 20, 2012 1:21:08 PM

A new router won't really help. A higher end one may be more stable and work better with a larger number of devices, but won't really speed anything up on the internet. The router does not care about where you connect, it will have the same speed for the same connection to anything.

Keep in mind the speed you get is very dependent on the route and the server you connect to.
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