If LTE Is So Fast, Why Does It Still Take Long to Download Stuff

kas23

macrumors 603
Original poster
Oct 28, 2007
5,627
291
Maybe I'm missing something here or looking at or calculating this wrong. When I test my LTE speed on Speedtest.net, I consistently get speeds of > 30 Mbps (or > 3.75 MB/s). However, when I try to download a file (even as small as 1-2 MB) on Safari on my iPhone 5, it takes about 10 seconds. That's an average of about 0.1-0.2 MB/s. What is the delay here? Shouldn't the DL be nearly instantaneous? It's not the website because I've tried multiple ones.
 

sarcosis

macrumors 6502a
Apr 25, 2006
586
6
These United States
You also have to get the connection to the store's which requires several handshakes on both ends to gain a solid connection. Once your connection is achieved, the download should go fast. That usually takes a few seconds. You notice it kind of slow with small apps since that handshake takes a few seconds. If you download a larger file, you should notice a difference.
 

paulrbeers

macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
3,960
120
It's like when friends and family ask me if they should upgrade their wireless to N. I ask them what they do, and most of the time they just use their network to surf the internet. Great, so your bottleneck is still your internet speed and not your 54g wireless.

Same with LTE downloads, just because you can connect at blazing speeds to a very close server (that probably has a ridiculous amount of bandwidth) does not mean that you will get that blazing speeds connected to every server. Apple has a ridiculous amount of bandwidth at their data centers, but you have to share that between everyone in the world who are trying to download music and apps....
 

Geckotek

macrumors G3
Jul 22, 2008
8,555
84
NYC
Maybe I'm missing something here or looking at or calculating this wrong. When I test my LTE speed on Speedtest.net, I consistently get speeds of > 30 Mbps (or > 3.75 MB/s). However, when I try to download a file (even as small as 1-2 MB) on Safari on my iPhone 5, it takes about 10 seconds. That's an average of about 0.1-0.2 MB/s. What is the delay here? Shouldn't the DL be nearly instantaneous? It's not the website because I've tried multiple ones.
You might be on the Autobahn with the ability to go 270 mph, but if your engine is a Yugo....you ain't gonna hit that 270. ;)

In other words, the pipe is only part of the speed formula. There are many points along the way that can throttle your speed, including the source server and every switch and router along the way.
 

gentlefury

macrumors 68030
Jul 21, 2011
2,848
0
Los Angeles, CA
Maybe I'm missing something here or looking at or calculating this wrong. When I test my LTE speed on Speedtest.net, I consistently get speeds of > 30 Mbps (or > 3.75 MB/s). However, when I try to download a file (even as small as 1-2 MB) on Safari on my iPhone 5, it takes about 10 seconds. That's an average of about 0.1-0.2 MB/s. What is the delay here? Shouldn't the DL be nearly instantaneous? It's not the website because I've tried multiple ones.
How long does it take to download the exact same file from a computer?

More than likely the problem is the server you are retrieving from....not LTE. I have been getting very fast speeds.
 

PNutts

macrumors 601
Jul 24, 2008
4,839
347
Pacific Northwest, US
It's like when friends and family ask me if they should upgrade their wireless to N. I ask them what they do, and most of the time they just use their network to surf the internet. Great, so your bottleneck is still your internet speed and not your 54g wireless.
There are a number of benefits to upgrading to N other than speed.
 

mnsportsgeek

macrumors 68000
Feb 24, 2009
1,737
1,163
I download apps from the app store instantaneously on LTE. It takes longer to actually install than it does to download.
 

phpmaven

macrumors 68040
Jun 12, 2009
3,400
460
San Clemente, CA USA
Maybe I'm missing something here or looking at or calculating this wrong. When I test my LTE speed on Speedtest.net, I consistently get speeds of > 30 Mbps (or > 3.75 MB/s). However, when I try to download a file (even as small as 1-2 MB) on Safari on my iPhone 5, it takes about 10 seconds. That's an average of about 0.1-0.2 MB/s. What is the delay here? Shouldn't the DL be nearly instantaneous? It's not the website because I've tried multiple ones.
OMG! 10 seconds! Throw that piece of junk in the trash!

I do but jest, it's funny to think about the old days when we were on old dial-up modems and would wait an eternity to download the smallest file. A 2MB file download would be unthinkable. You might as well start it running and then go to bed and check in the morning. If you're really lucky, you didn't get disconnected. Oh the good old days...
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,660
2,819
Perth, Western Australia
Download speed is affected by
- LTE connection speed - if you're too far away withuot good signal you won't get full speed
- LTE cell congestion - too many users on one cell downloading stuff = bandwidth to that cell is over subscribed
- network core congestion
- remote web host congestion / throttling


LTE is not a silver bullet.

Where i am, we don't even get full speed 3G due to network conditions.
 

Radiating

macrumors 65816
Dec 29, 2011
1,018
7
You also have to get the connection to the store's which requires several handshakes on both ends to gain a solid connection. Once your connection is achieved, the download should go fast. That usually takes a few seconds. You notice it kind of slow with small apps since that handshake takes a few seconds. If you download a larger file, you should notice a difference.
Yep that's the exact reason why.
 

ls1dreams

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2009
529
186
For small downloads, latency is almost always a bigger bottleneck than the download itself.

This is why when people develop apps, the best practice is to try to reduce the number of server / API calls and try to grab everything at once as soon as you have a connection.

Unfortunately, I don't think this is a problem wireless will resolve any time soon.
 
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