DSL speed - what does this mean?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by karatekidk, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. karatekidk macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2008
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Hi all,

    I just moved to a new place a new place and am trying to get an internet connection. I asked a local internet provider for a price quote. They gave me quotes for three different services.

    - 1.5M/896K
    - 3M/640K
    - 5M/896K

    I understand 5M is the fastest, but what do 896k and 640k mean? Why 3M one has less amount (640k) than 1.5M (896k)?

    Honestly, I am embarrassed to ask the question. Thank you for educating me.
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza

    Also, these are bits, not bytes.
  3. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008
    The first and larger number is your downstream speed, which is your bandwidth from the internet to your house. The second, smaller number is your upstream speed, which is going the other way. It's common for upstream speeds to be slower, because most people download a lot more than they upload.
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    5M/896K is the connection speed for data moving from/to the ISP's central office router.
    But remember they might have 200 users connected to that router and all of them will share one wire going from that router to the the rest of the Internet. It works because everyone does not use their connection all at the same time.

    What really matters and they will not tell you, is how fast that connection to the Internet is and how many ways it is shared. You'd need to know this to know if the 5M connection is really any faster than the 1.5M connection. Likely during peak hours in is not.
  5. stridemat Moderator


    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    I would ask the company about contention ratios. The lower the ratio the better your overall connection will be, especially at peak times.
  6. karatekidk thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 30, 2008
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Thank you!!

    Just checked all the replies. Thank you all, I learned a lot!
  7. minik macrumors 65816

    Jun 25, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    The whole sharing thing sounds like Cable.
  8. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Right except cable usually splits at the curb while with DSL it's done on the DSLAM.

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