Please Help Me Understand Internet Provider Basics

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by aminadab, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. aminadab macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    #1
    I trying to help my dad out with some internet problems he has at home. We're in the Northern Virginia Area and have Comcast cable as our provider. Since visiting for the holidays, I've noticed that his service is both very uneven and tests much slower than the package promisses. He has an 8MB ps option for 50 bucks. Now I know there's no way he's ever going to actually see this speed and download an 80MB file in 10 seconds flat. However, based upon some online testing speeds (the one cnet provides, for instance), he's getting something like 500 kbps to 1200 kbps. My service at home is DSL and is consistently 1500 kbps. On his service, at one moment nyt.com loads very quickly then the next it takes something like 20 seconds. We have the generic Motorola modem and the Belkin Pre-N wireless router. Although not as consistent as my Airport Express, the router turns up and I'm usually able to hop on with ho problems. We've reset modem and router connections a number of times with no avail. Am I missing something here? Could this be a connection problem between the server and our home? Could this be a modem problem? They're sending someone out tomorrow and I'd like to be on my toes, as they've typically shrugged my dad's previous compliants off.
     
  2. emw macrumors G4

    emw

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    #2
    So he has an 8Mbps line, probably not 8MBps, which is a significant difference. 8 Mbps = 1 MBps = 8000kbps. But your 1200kbps does seem slow for his package.

    Of course, with any connection, there's no guarantee of service, but a 1/8 performance is a little disturbing. How are you getting these numbers? Are you going to a "check you download speed" site, or are these the results of downloading files from some site. If you're just downloading files, you're at the mercy of the host site as to the speed of transfer.

    Also, if you're using a wireless router, it could be a wireless b router, which would limit you to 11Mbps (1100 kbps) which could also be the problem. Try hooking directly to the modem with your computer and see if your connection improves.
     
  3. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #3
    No home ISP guarantees a minimum speed, just a maximum.

    I think you're running into the usual problem with cable internet. Your connection has huge potential bandwidth, but is shared with everyone on your block, neighborhood, development, ....

    This is one place where DSL is far superior as you're not sharing the pipe until a higher level where more bandwidth is already available.

    B
     
  4. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #4
    You're confusing megabits and megabytes. He has an 8Mb package, which translates to 1MB/sec. There are 8 bits per byte.

    I'm not sure about the speeds you're reporting, because of your confusion with bits and bytes...but if that's 1200 kilobits per second, as you wrote it, then that is definitely a cause for concern. It is well known that cable speeds fluctuate greatly, but that's pretty bad.

    Make sure you have good quality coax cable between the wall and the modem, with no more than one splitter before the modem. To truly check the speed, ditch your router (which is two strikes against you, IMHO: 1. it's a Belkin, and 2. it's a "beta" pre-N product) and connect a computer directly to the modem. Report back on what you find and we'll see if we can help more.
     
  5. aminadab thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    #5
    Ok, thanks a lot for all of the help and sorry for my confusion. As you can see, I'm a novice. I took your advice and ran a test hard wired through the modem, using the cnet speed test. It reads: 848.1 kbps. Is that more like it? The internet seems a bit snappier. RE: the belkin pre-N. Can you recommend a good wireless router? Will the Airport express work with my dad's pc? I'll check out the cable and make sure there's only one spilt and go out and buy a nicer cable. Is there any particular brand I should look out for? Or, can I just pop in to bestbuy and buy something there. Thanks again for all the help.
     
  6. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    Fuquay Varina, NC
    #6
    nevermind...you didn't confuse the result unit of measurement.
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    Location:
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    #7
    848 kbps on the CNET test is about half a 1.5Mbps T1 so it's about a fifth of the max rate your Dad is paying for. i.e. pretty bad.

    B
     
  8. aminadab thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 3, 2005
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    #8
    Yes, no router in between, I directly hooked up to the modem via ethernet. Here's test from cnet. I'll search out and perform some tests from differet sites. Thanks!
     

    Attached Files:

  9. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    #9
    Edit link isn't working...But I saw that Cnet reports using Kbps, so your connection is definitely a little slow. Try other sites however just for thoroughness.
     
  10. aminadab thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 3, 2005
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    Portland, Oregon
    #10
    Ok two more:
     

    Attached Files:

  11. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #11
    Those two seem acceptable ~ 3-4x faster than before.

    EDIT: 24,000 kbps is about 3x faster than you're supposed to get. I missed an order of magnitude.

    B
     
  12. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    #12
    Now he has a 24 megabit connection! :eek:
     
  13. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #13
    Yeah, I read it as 2.4M earlier. Must have hit a quiet spot, or something was cached somewhere that shouldn't be.

    B
     
  14. jeremy.king macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

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    #14
    Or as I have found in the past, these bandwith testing sites usually report junk speeds. I usually rely on safari's download speed measurement and "real world" experience.
     
  15. aminadab thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    #15
    Hm, Ok, so it seems our connection problems lie in our router. I've convinced him to get a new one. Should we just go down to the apple store and get an airport express or will his pc have problems with it?
     
  16. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #16
    Yeah, but as emw said earlier, with a fast enough connection you can't be sure if the limit is on your end or the server's unless you're downloading a trailer from Apple via Akamai or something like that.

    I just got 15 Mbps FiOS installed last week, and find that many of the sites I frequent top out at 5 Mbps, so I don't get much benefit over my 3 MBps DSL...

    aminadab, be sure you don't have any older 802.11b devices floating around. These will work on a 802.11g router, but will quickly bring the whole wireless network down to 2-5 Mbps as soon as one device gets out to marginal range. The nice thing about Airport is that they support WDS range extension so you can have much better coverage than without, but otherwise any brand of router should be fairly equivalent.

    B
     

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