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A Study on Regional DSL and Cable Speeds? 469

antarctican asks: "I'm curious about the typical speed DSL and Cable users get. I see references in various /. articles to speeds such as 128k for DSL connections, to me that seems discustingly slow. Here in British Columbia, Canada a speed of 2-4Mbps for a DSL line (ranging from ~$40-100/month) is the norm, and is easily available in all the major centres. Why are American cable and DSL speeds so low, and where is this artificial limit coming from? It's obviously not the technology!" I don't know that American DSL is necessarily slower than that or not. Your location will greatly affect the kind of broadband access that you can posess, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were some American markets which are as fast, if not faster than 4Mbps. How fast are DSL and Cable lines in your area? Maybe someone can use this information to update the broadband availability charts that are available at various places on the 'net.
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A Study on Regional DSL and Cable Speeds?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    America's high speed roll-out is slower than Canada because we have a lot of companies who throttle technology advances for marketing purposes.

    The longer we pay $50/month for 128k, the more money they make. AOL will be selling them for $19.95 a month soon enough and then everyone will have high speed access. Horray.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sigh... i guess now isn't a good time to post this :) but being from the area that had the first hybrid cable network, i feel that i must. :P I get 1.5mbit down/1.5mbit up for 39$ a month (canadian) i've had cable modem now for 4 years and it's been availble in my area for 5+ years. The price actually used to be 49$ a month, but they dropped it to 39$ for anyone who was a subscriber of cable tv as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm in the Boston area and I get 640 DL, 128 UL from Verizon for $40/month. In real use, I get ~60kB (or 480kb) of DL speed quite reliably. But their mail servers are often overloaded.

    I first tried to get DSL with a static IP from Speakeasy and other Covad based providers, but after a long string of hassles and missed appointments, I gave up and went with the self-install kit from Verizon. It took a few months for Verizon to process my order thanks to them putting a new buggy order system in place right before the strike. All together, it took me 6 months to get DSL after moving.

    At my previous address (Wilmington, MA) I had cable modem service from MediaOne. I loved it. I got 160kB download even during peak hours - so my DL speed was a non-issue compared to the load on the server I was accessing and the internet. I got comparable UL speed too on the few occasions I uploaded large files. But that was pre-Napster so who knows if they've capped it since then. And I never had a service interruption or had trouble with their mail servers. Finally, I had a service tech at my apartment to verify the connection only 1 week after ordering it.

    I would have stuck with cable in a heartbeat except the cable company at my new address doesn't do digital.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    average speed is zero.
  • They (Adelphia) were saying this back when they were Cablevision of Loudoun back in late '98, early '99, but they were saying that it'll be symmetric by the end of '99. BS. They're all freaking liers.
  • I'm in Fairfax, VA. I'm not very far from the CO at all. My problem is that I've got fiber between my house and the CO. Apparently, it's prohibitivly expensive to do DSL over fiber (according to the Verizon tech who did the line check), so I'm stuck with either IDSL or cable. I'm not really happy with 144Kbps, but it's better than dialup and I can get static IPs with it. I'd probably go with cable if I didn't need the static IP addresses.

    Kind of ironic that fiber's supposed to be "the way of the future" but because of its presense, I'm stuck with bandwidth of the past...

  • My DSL here started out somewhere in the 150 k/s range. Since I have a cool small mom-and-pop ISP, I talked to the owner and got him to have the telco uncap my DSL line. I now get 650 k/s at no extra charge. Moral: small ISPs rule.

  • Just under 20Kbytes/second for the DSL connection, and from 100-150Kbytes/second for the cable modem. And yes, I meant bytes in the last post too. The cable modem could probably easily max out a 10 base T card.

    - A.P.

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • DSL for the static IP, subnet, domain name, etc, and cable modem because, hell, $40 a month for a 10 megabit connection, how can you say no?

    - A.P.

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • Haven't felt the need to yet. The DSL connection really doesn't serve up that much stuff (yet...), but async routing appears to work, or it did when I tried it out a while ago.

    - A.P.

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • I've got both cable and DSL. My DSL speed is reliably 150Kbytes/second (it's 1.5/384 ADSL.)

    My cable modem, on the other hand, varies (probably because of the host on the other end) between 150 and 700KBytes/second. usually gives me 700K/second, which is awesome for kernel updates. The cable modem is through Optimum Online (in Connecticut), and the DSL is through SNET (for the physical line) and CyberZone (awesome ISP) for the connection itself.

    - A.P.

    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • Does this have something to do with the metric system again? :)
  • Whenever you sign up for broadband service, do what I do. Ask for the whole picture.

    You see, sometimes companies like phone companies and cable companies aren't always so straight with you. Sometimes they'll bend the truth about their availability statistics or even have hidden charges. You don't want to find out about this stuff after you've already signed up, because by then, they've roped you in already with that big connection fee they didn't focus your attention on. And then you're screwed.

    So do what I do: ask them for the "premium" service. You see, companies like phone companies and cable companies often have a second service they won't tell you about unless you ask. They keep it under the table and wait for those special customers to show up who ask for it. You might be just such a customer, but you probably don't even know it.

    You see, things like true high-speed access can't just be given out to anybody who walks in off the street. You have to be willing to pay for it, but more importantly, you have to be willing to do what's necessary to get it. Do you think just anyone can ask for 1.2 petabyte/s connectivity and get it? Do you think it's that easy?

    No, you have to be willing to sleep with the right people and maybe even kill for that kind of connectivity. You have to take drastic steps and show them you're not just one of them, no sir. You're one of us. You're ready to play with the big boys. You hate your mother, don't you? You think it's funny to laugh at others who aren't like you, don't you? You think you're so superior, but let me tell you, you're nothing. You're just a slashbot.

    And that's why these statistics aren't meaningful unless they come from the field. And that's why articles like this are so important; benchmarks from companies can tell you something, but they can't tell you what you really want to know: the truth.
  • In the Hyde Park area of Austin (5-8 square miles north of the University of Texas) I get ~1.12 Mbit sustained down from servers which I know to have big pipes -- Mozilla, Apple, Dell, -- and I can get 128 Kbits up with no problem.

    I have DSL from SBC, it costs ~$40/month. I suffer with PPPoE. For ~$20 more a month (anecdotal evidence, salt to taste), I could get DHCP and way better website/email service from If I had a better job or a roommate to split the cost with, it'd be worth it, but since it's only my wife and I, I can live with it for the time being. If I could get DSL speed and as my ISP for that price, it'd be worth the money, but io is now wisely waiting out the DSL storm.

    SBC has been mostly clueless, but on the whole decent as an ISP (considering I don't rely on them for email, web hosting, or anything but an IP address and a line). If I had the money, I would consider upgrading to their small business class service, and get the 5 static IPs. When I need hosting that's important enough not to impose on a friend's linux box, I'll probably go to io.

    Don Negro

  • I've tried both Rogers@Home (cable) and Sympatico HSE (ADSL). Both approximately the same price (circa Cdn$40). Cable was supposed to be something like 3mbs\320kbs, and the DSL is 960\120kbs. Guess what? On average the DSL is faster! The cable speeds were up and down (fast at 4am, slow the rest of the time) with bad packet loss and dreadful routing. IMHO, their network smacked of over-subscription... if they lowered the bandwidth offered, I think their service and average speeds would improve. I happily get about 100kB/s downloads 24/7 with the DSL... it's great. The upload speeds sucks though: 100kB/s downstream uses 20% of my upstream bandwidth (presumably TCP acks?). It's a very effective way of stopping servers as any significant upstream activity really bites into downstream throughput.
  • I've been using PPPoE for 1.5 years. I've grown to like it.

    1) PPPoE client software has become a lot more mature now. Roaring Penguin for Linux is great.... and it does PPPoE relay if you need to connect another machine from behind a Linux based router. RASPPPOE for Windows is also pretty good.

    2) I like being able to easily change my IP. With DHCP, I found I would release and then renew, and get the same IP back. This rarely happens with PPPoE. Being able to disconnect is great if your IP is getting unwelcome attention (Quake 3 server still broadcasting at you after you crashed; DoS attack; port scans).

    3) PPPoE allows you to connect to multiple ISPs. This means I can use the internet like normal, but somebody else in the house can also get a high speed connection straight into the university (yes, the same could be done with VPNs).

    4) Cable pissed me off making me change my damn computer name to some crap combination of letters and numbers for their DHCP authentication!

    5) works really well with dynamic IPs. So who cares if you have PPPoE?

    6) Now that I have a Netgear RT314, all my computers use DHCP and are configured as *I* see fit. The router supports both PPPoE and DHCP, so I can use it with any of the services around. I could have achieved the same with a Linux router, but I didn't have a spare machine, and besides the router is kind of nice: it sits on a shelf and I don't think about it. PPPoE isn't an issue anymore. I'm not even aware of it!

    7) OSes are now comping with builtin PPPoE support (Linux, WinXP, Mac OS X), so it becomes more transparent and irrelevant.

    As for the ISPs liking it. The biggest thing I've heard is that it fits with their current dialup model. As I understand it, PPPoE involves a VPN from the CO to their dial up server, so presumably it also allows them to centralise things and keep the costs down. Perhaps.
  • There are several different ways that it can implemented. With my current service, the modem has no real presence as far as the network is concerned. With PPPoE, my computer (well, router) gets the IP address. Where I lived before, the DSL service used a Cisco 675 modem, and with that ISP the modem got the IP. The modem was actually a fully fledged router. To run servers, one had telnet into the modem and configure the relevant ports and protocols for forwarding (network address translation). Perhaps your modem is really a router with NAT capabilities. Check your manual, or do a search for the make and model on the internet. One benefit of your setup is that the modem acts as a natural firewall. If you can telnet into it, ensure that you change your password (my previous ISP didn't tell their customers to do this and left them open to crackers.)
  • Get really fucking pissed off when they won't tell you what you know is right and eventually something will get done.

    No, no it won't. You'll just annoy whatever tech you get ahold of that day. I know this from experience, as I've been on BOTH ends of the phone.

  • There's a telco pedestal in my front yard, a switching station (windowless brick building) about a third of a mile down the street and my DSL speed is..."real soon now". :-(

    Why not go to cable modem? 'Cause I've seen how well our local cable company (Time Warner) doesn't do television, which they've been at for years. Their technical expertise seems centered around breaking compatibility with older equipment in order to increase their converter box and remote control rental fees. And that's with televisions, where there are actually fairly stable standards (not great, but stable). Imagine what they could do along those lines with computer stuff.

  • The attraction of DSL for me is

    1. Time-Warner cable doesn't get any more of our money.

    2. Doesn't tie up the phone.

    3. Should let me connect to the same ISP and not have to change e-mail addresses (again).

  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @04:02PM (#332187) Homepage Journal

    Believe it or not, the issue of units naming for bits and bytes has been addressed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Though the unit names [] are not officially part of SI (Systeme Internationale), and the chosen names are unfamiliar, they make a good starting point.


  • Datapoints: PacBell service to my home in San Francisco reliably runs at 1.5 mpbs for $40/month. PacBell DSL to my former workplace routinely ran at 4 mbps for $200/month. Concentric DSL at my current workplace runs at a very bursty 100 kbps-ish.
  • I get static IP, 768k/128k. Problem is Verizon is too fucking cheap to pay for more bandwith so we get 1000+ms pings to our gateway. Turns out (after hours and hours of lying on the phone from the tech support people) that they are daisychaining the racks at the DSLAM in the office downtown and too may people are on a single T1.

    It took 2 months 2 weeks to get a tech out here to test that w/a laptop... I told them for those 2 months and 2 weeks what the problem was but I didn't know what I was talking about...

    Today (3 months 1 week) I called again and finally got the word that they are adding more T1's to the DSLAM (whether or not this is true I have no idea) and supposedly our ping replies will improve...

    My suggestion to those people out there that can get cable or DSL w/a providor other than Verizon -- do so.. If you have Verizon, do NOT get DSL through them (and if you are like us and you have to, make sure you call them daily and record extensions and names of the people you talk to). Get really fucking pissed off when they won't tell you what you know is right and eventually something will get done.

    The US's DSL situation sucks b/c the bandwith is more expensive than the revenues from the DSL service. DOWN W/CANADA ;-) If only I lived in MI instead of OH, I would just run ethernet across the border.
  • by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @04:03PM (#332191) Homepage Journal

    There are several factors that come into play:

    • Changes in wire type/gauge. Every time you change gauge in wire, you potentially have an impedance mismatch which can cause reflections on the line. These reflections cause certain frequencies (well above human hearing range, but smack-dab in the middle of the DSL frequency range) to be attenuated or altogether canceled out.

    • Related to this are stubs. Often times, a single line pair leaving a junction box is spliced somewhere along the way and actually goes to two destinations -- one live, one not. This could happen for a variety of reasons, typically due to changes in service at residences near each other. Each stub also causes reflections (worse than those reflections caused by changes in wire gauge), and so this too frustrates DSL service.

    • Line filters. Strictly speaking, line filters aren't necessary until well down the line, where your voice-band data is converted to digital, or is analog-multiplexed with other signals on a line. To reduce crosstalk and noise (apparently), most POTS lines have line filters closer to the home so only voiceband energy is on the line. These kill DSL dead, as you noted.

    • Loading coils. On some longer runs out there, loading coils are on the lines to help even out the response curve of the line in the voice band, in part by absorbing reflections. These totally screw up the frequency bands outside the voice band though.

    • And finally, from what I recall, upper frequences attenuate fairly sharply with distance on unshielded copper, and so the further away you get, the fewer usable frequencies you have to play with.

    So, yes, there are a lot of problems as you go from the CO to the end terminal. Some of these problems are in the last mile (changes in wire gauge, stubs) and some are along the way (loading coils).

  • and my house is 28000 feet from the CO. I get 128k, with the occasional burst to 144 if the phase of the moon is right. During the summer, I get crap, cause there's a break in the line somewhere that is heat sensitive.

    My *NEW* place is 700 feet from the CO, and they claim I can get a 7.1m/768k line to that...Ill let ya know monday...


  • Calgary, AB, Canada. Cable provided by Shaw Cable ("Shaw @home")

    Down: per node, three 10 Mbps channels, which your modem is put on randomly. You share the channel with a number of others. Practical speed: more like 5 Mbps max.

    Up: Two 768 kbps channels. Old modems only can use one, whereas newer can use both at once. Also shared.

    It's a pretty good system -- peering is NOT through @home, unlike the other @home affiliates.
    They split up the nodes here pretty quick when they get packed.
  • In New Zealand, we have 'Jetstream' which is our main telco's adsl service. Afaik, the speed ranges between a flatrate 128kbps service and 8Mbps downstream.

    The traffic prices in $NZ are here [].
  • In B.C., Telus has the last-mile monopoly. Telus shall be your local telephone provider and you shall have no other local telephone provider before Telus. I believe this is a government-ordained monopoly, and that they keep fairly tight reigns on the telco. We have gotten local calls free for as long as I can remember, although they do seem to like to play with the cost of basic service. Long distance can be from any provider; you get two bills unless you stick with Telus for LD. You can also DSL service from companies other than Telus, but it is Telus that actually provides the DSL ports at the exchange/central office/whatever.

    Then there is cable. We only have one cable provider here; used to be Rogers but they did a customer swap with Shaw so we get Shaw out here in BC now. You can only get cable TV or cable internet by going through Shaw.

  • I live Haverford. For:

    a) You could setup a Linux box to run ipmasquerading (NAT). Or you could buy one of those new NAT cable modem router/hub-type things from linksys, dlink, and others.

    b) Yes, it'll probably involve one of these service people to install a cable outlet on the third floor. Or you could keep the cable on the 1st floor or basement and have someone run CAT5 cabling for you. (Or go wireless--though that will slow you down a bit and might not work too well, depending on your house)

    c) Mine is static and so are all of the ones with comcast @ home from what I've seen. I've had my same IP for 3 years now. No propreitary junk, very easy to setup in Linux or whatever.

    Dont have much time to get into the details now though, maybe some other time.
  • by FallLine ( 12211 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @05:42PM (#332210)
    Well I've had comcast @ home, out of philly, for the past 3 years now and mines basically always been blazing fast in the downstream. I still regularly pull 500kilobyte/s downloads. Sometimes I run simultaneous transfers and pull at least 1 megabyte/s. In other words, your friends aren't too far off the mark. I also get killer pings in Quake, Counter-Strike, etc. In CS I average 15-30 ms to my preferred servers. That being said, the upstream is pretty weak. It tops out at about 50kilobyte/s (these days) and when I do, it absolutely kills my downstream capacity and pings.

    As for the relative worth of cable versus DSL, that depends largely on the two providers. That being said, it's been my experience, empirically speaking, that cable tends to be faster than DSL. Although it is true, from a technical standpoint, that cable modems "share bandwidth", this is only unique in that it does it at the headend. In other words, you're sharing bandwidth with people in your immediate neighborhood. However, DSL also shares bandwidth in numerous places, but especially once you start approaching the fiber/upstream. This is where it can really get expensive, and most ISPs tend to oversubscribe these by a very large ratio. Many DSL users do, in fact, get absolutely crappy bandwidth because of this. @home, on the other hand, has truely superb routing, even if they can't run a mail server if their life depended on it.

    The economics just aren't there for fast DSL, typically, at a mere ~40 dollars a month, unlike cable modem through a large provider like @home. If you're willing to pay a hefty fee for DSL, you can probably get a truely fast connection, but it's unlikely you'll get an honest to god faster DSL connection (especially with Verizon) than comcast@home for a mere 40 dollars a month. Especially since the even the quoted rates for DSL at any reasonable price is a mere fraction of what I and so many others regularly pull with cable from @home (and a couple others).
  • I'm on the other side of the bay, and I'm about a quarter/half mile from the CO.

    My DSL Sucks. Yesterday, I would lose my connection whenever somebody called us on the phone. My connection goes down about 10 times a day, (sometimes not at all....sometimes 10 times in 2 hours). Sometimes the PPP peer gives me a ppp session ID and no IP.

    On a good day, I do have phat throughput (my record is downloading an RPM from umich at 2.7 Mbps...I'm wary of that figure.) There have been times where my connection's been down for 3 days. Sometimes the power on the local loop burps and I have to cycle the power on the modem. Sometimes the phone has no dial tone. Sometimes we have horrenous static with digital bleedover, sometimes the phone will just up and hang up mid conversation.

    I would say that I'm paying full price for 50% of the service we were marketed. They just don't have their crap together.

    on average, we're pulling down ~300Kbps, and we can get 1.5 Mbps when we need it. However, our availability and reliability is just utter shit.

  • I've been very pleased with my DSL service. I live in St. Louis, MO and receive my DSL service and ISP from Southwestern Bell. In the 4 or 5 months I've had the service, I've had only one or two periods of time where I encountered problems, and even those times were very short in duration. I typically get the speed that was advertised--1.5 Mb/s download. Almost always the limiting factor is the upload speed of the server I'm connecting to.
  • In Loudoun County, VA, DSL is not available and the only cable modems you can get are asymmetric -- you still need to dial in, you get a new IP every time, and you upload at modem speeds.

    This despite being the home of AOL and PSINet, and one county over from Network Solutions, MCI Worldcom...

    The cable company won't be more specific than to say "We plan to have bidirectional cable modem service for the whole county by the end of 2003." Which doesn't say much, considering that the east end of the county has 95% of the population, and the west end is just a bunch of horse farms. Obviously the east end will get done first, and i'd like to know when that will happen.

    Nobody will say anything about when DSL is coming. :(

    So unless you want to pay business rates, you have no high-speed internet options.


  • Actually I'm getting better at 768/768 with one static ip from telocity at just 50 a month and no contract. $10 more a month gets me 4 static ips but I don't need that. FWIW, this is in hyde park.

  • In my experience, unless your ISP artificially throttles back your available bandwidth, most people will find cable to be significantly faster than DSL. The concept of "shared" bandwidth is lost because in the end, everyone's sharing bandwidth from someone (even DSL). I would venture to say that unless you live in a heavy tech corridor, where all your neighbors have cable modem, you will not likely feel the pinch.

    I live in Columbia, Missouri, which is at the high point of one of the largest geek concentration gradients you'll ever see (the university is here, but outside of town you're talking about 80 miles of crops in every direction). Unfortunately, the total number of geeks is not so high that we have chronic bandwidth shortages by Boston area standards, but, whenever the issue comes up on the Mizzou Linux Users Group mailing list, [] the eventual verdict is that cable modems provide much higher potential bandwidth (e.g., up to 3500kbps), but are much more likely to experience unscheduled down time, at least so far.

    Before @Home started throttling upload bandwidth, there were more frequent bandwidth issues apparently due to the presence of many servers that aren't technically allowed by @Home but which were tolerated.

    Additionally, cable appears to be more readily available, and is cheaper than DSL access for the amount of bandwidth you get.

    With taxes and other dorkiness, the second 12 months of @Home is like $41.96 in our market; I haven't tried to get a better rate from them by threatening to hop onto DSL...yet. :-) In part because DSL is no cheaper at its cheapest, yet has no bandwidth advantage at all.

  • Here in NJ, on Cablevision I get 5 MB/s down and 1 MB/s up, if I can find a server that will provide the service. I pay $29.95/mo for this.

    The real limits I see are due to the fact that there are really not very many places on the internet that will dish out the bits at these rates.

    MOVE 'ZIG'.
  • when ever I see that. As for my DSL speeds, my plan through verison is rated at 640 down 90 up. I have seen some big download speeds (600 ish), but I find I'm most often waiting for the server I'm pulling data off of. VA's ftp server is often really slow. I think that's one part of broadband that doesn't get much ink. If broadband becomes global (or just nation wide in the US), big sites will find they need more bandwidth just to keep up. What good is 640k download speeds if I can only get 8k from my fav kernel mirror?
  • Two ways in which the transmission time and length affect bandwidth (in very vague terms. I don't have the exact specifics off the top of my head.)

    One, the transmission protocol may use collision detection, which requires that a transmitting station detect that another station is transmitting at the same time it is and both stations stop transmitting the now hopelessly garbled messages. The higher the transmission speed (higher bandwidth), the less time for a signal to propagate across to all the stations. The 250 ft limit on the Ethernet 100Mbps protocol is limited because the electrical signal cannot travel much further than that in 1/100,000,000 of a second.

    Second, a signal gets distorted the further you send it over a wire. A signal which you might send with clearly defined edges (like a set of stairs) becomes rounded and flat (like sine waves) the further it gets transmitted. This makes it hard to tell whether that rise/drop in signal is meant for one bit or two or more. The faster your transmission rate, the less distortion/attenuation you can afford.

    I'm sure there are lots of other reasons which I've forgotten. Suffice to say, wire length will always affect the speed you can transmit at. There are other tricks to speed this up, like putting in repeaters that interpret, clean up and retransmit a clean signal, but you obviously can't put that between a telephone office and your home.
  • by helarno ( 34086 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @02:56PM (#332248) Homepage
    I see references in various /. articles to speeds such as 128k for DSL connections, to me that seems discustingly slow. Here in British Columbia, Canada a speed of 2-4Mbps for a DSL line (ranging from ~$40-100/month) is the norm, and is easily available in all the major centres

    I believe you're confusing 128KBytes per second with 128Kbits per second. Big difference. 128KBps is 128*8 = 1 Mbps, which isn't THAT far off from the Canadian numbers. Note that a T1 is 1.5Mbps

    DSL speeds are physically limited by the length of the wiring from your home to the DSL provider's modem. The further away you are, the longer it takes for the signal to propagate and the greater the signal degradation. Using Ethernet cabling as an example (I don't have DSL numbers handy) if you used 10Mbps Ethernet, you could have 2,500 feet between the computers linked together. If you boosted the speed to 100Mbps, your computers could then only be 250 ft apart.

    I live in the Boston, USA area and regularly get 1.5Mbps from both cable and DSL. It is possible to get higher DSL speeds (up to a theoretical 7Mbps) if you pay more and are conveniently located very close to a box.

    However, most companies here advertise 1.5Mbps because that is the speed they can get to most consumers. It makes for much easier billing and logistics (you know, those non-technical limitations.) If you want higher speeds, be prepared to pay through the nose for it.

  • DSL at my House is up to 1.5Mbps/128Kbps. That is my bandwidth No one else on the line. Cable does have higher capacity overall but that bandwidth is shared with you, your tv, your neighbors computer and tv and so on. This means that sometimes cable users report ungodly speeds (5-10Mbps) but that's rare and dependant on their neighbors tv viewing habits.

    Most cable companies prohibit servers of any type (Comcast @home won't install the equipment if they see a "server" OS). SouthWestern Bell DSL does not have this. They say that you can host websites on any of their DSL packages, but that the $80 one with 5 static ip's makes it easier.

    I did however have the cable company call me telling me that cable was 39 times faster than my existing DSL.... My math adds that too.. 58.5 Mbps. I laughed and hung up.

  • The bandwidths you talk about are largely unattainable in Britain.

    In fact, a "survey" or "report" or whatever [] reported in the infamous Register [] suggests that Britain has the lowest-bandwidth, highest priced broadband on the entire planet. The report (pay US$395 to pass 'go') is here. []

    I can buy a 512Kb/128Kb connection from British Telecom for as little as £50 a month. Plus £200 connection. With 40:1 contention. Oh, I have to run Windows 98 to do it. Or, I can pay £200 a month for 1Mb down, 128KB up at 20:1 contention, and run as many machines off it as I want. Installation is a bit more (£400 I think). Oh, and those bandwidths aren't 'committed bandwidths'. And they change your IP every 2 hours. I can always go to a supplier other than BT. But they have to charge more, because those are the prices that BT charge other suppliers, as well.

    I am angry. I work with telecomms companies. One if them (in Europe) is giving *guaranteed* 1Mb down, 256 Kb up, 24*7, home access at 8:1 contention for the equivalent of £18 a month.

    Do you ever wonder why UK people are so *fucking* furious?

    On the bright side, BT has a market capitalisation of £28 billion, and debts of £30 billion. Way to go, Sir Peter and Sir Ian. (Chairman and CEO)

    I love monopolies. Or I will when I get one.
  • Is it really true that the last mile of copper wire is the bandwidth bottleneck? I always thought that was a myth, and the problem was the 4kHz filter the phone guys put on voice lines so they can multiplex several calls on one wire.
    Patrick Doyle
  • I live in the OKC metro area (Norman, actually). I have a cable modem. I gets me 2Mbps for $44.95 a month.

    SecretAsianMan (54.5% Slashdot pure)
  • I subscribe to the Optus@Home service in Australia. Optus@Home are an Australian joint venture between Optus (owned by Cable & Wireless, though there's news of SingTel purchasing them), and Excite@Home (who I believe are responsible for the @Home cable Internet service in North America, though from what I understand, a lot of their network is run by franchise partners in different regions).

    Australian Universities are all (I believe, certainly the major ones are) connected to the Internet through Optus, most of them using ATM. This means that connections from my Optus@Home service to Australian Universities are generally as fast as I'm likely to get, except for perhaps my local hub's proxy server - giving a pretty good indication of the true maximum speed of the service.

    Connecting to (hosted at University of Queensland I believe), I can download, using FTP (no proxying, and a better protocol than http to do speed testing) at around 400KB/sec (that's kilobytes, not kilobits). I'd guess that realistically gives me around 4Mb/sec - not bad at all.

    I've actually had 600MB/sec http downloads from the Optus@Home proxy server - but that's rather rare, and it's not a good indication of the service's speed, as it's internal, and doesn't take into account my service's connection to the Internet itself (which is often a bottleneck for Internet Access Providers).

    Optus@Home is one of two cable Internet services available in Australia - the other is run by Telstra, who are Australias national, partly-government owned Telecommunications company/carrier. Telstra offer two kinds of accounts - an "unlimited download" account, which is speed capped (I'm not aware of what speed this service is capped at) and an uncapped service, for which you pay per megabyte once you have downloaded over 200MB (it could be 500MB, but for some reason 200MB sticks in my head). The unlimited download account is quite slow compared to Optus' cable service, but from all reports the pay-per-megabyte service is just as fast, if not faster.

    Telstra also initially rolled their cable network out using a proprietry system, forcing people to buy their particular cable modem (a modified Motorola CyberSurfer I believe), though they are now in the process of converting it to the DOCSIS standard - all new connections are now DOCSIS. Optus@Home used DOCSIS from the start.

    ADSL in Australia is in it's infancy - Telstra and a company called iPrimus are the only ones (so far) offering line rental and Internet connectivity - iPrimus recently pulled their unlimited data plan (well, they no longer offer it to new customers, anyone who signed up on that plan still has unlimited data), I don't know much about the Telstra plans. I believe though that 2 different speed connections - the fastest of which is 1.5mb/sec download.

    Our geographical location (away from the US) and expensive telecommunications and Internet charges (Australian Internet access providers, including Telstra and Optus, still get charged per megabyte for data coming from overseas) means that the uptake of broadband in Australia is slow. But we are getting there. :)
  • No, Canada now permits local telephone competition, so Telus' monopoly is historic rather than de jure. But due to the economics (e.g., residential service from Telus is priced below the cost of raw wire from them to a competitor), it's very hard for a competitor to sell residential service profitably. Unless it's the CATV, who's already there.
  • Before I start ... please note the parallel to "distribution" of internet access:

    What "free market" are you talking about WRT to the California power prices?

    It's a lovely story:

    power company builds power lines
    and power generation facilities

    new power generator wants to sell
    power to people for less money but
    _cannot_ get government approval to
    build more power lines

    old power company notices this and
    jacks up prices because they realize
    they have a monopoly on distribution

    people get pissed, and in their generally
    asinine way demand that "something be done"

    CA Government: Ok, let's do something ...
    now all you power companies can either be
    generators or distributors ... you can't be
    both anymore.

    Power Companies: Fuck off.

    CA Government: We're serious ... pick one, and
    sell off all the stuff you don't need for
    whichever role you choose.

    Power Companies: Dude, if we _have_ to sell
    then we can't charge reasonable prices.

    Government: Whatever ... do you think we should
    run for higher political offices?

    Power Companies: Lets make a deal, let's lock
    in a contract to keep charging those suckers
    these exorbitant prices for the next ten
    years, and we'll agree to sell off our stuff.

    Government: Fine, sounds splendid.
    Oh, BTW, we want a bigger piece of the action,
    so we're going to set up a committee that you
    need to get approval from in order to buy
    power to resell.

    Power Companies: For fuck's sake.

    A while later suppliers notice that the distributors have NOWHERE TO GO to get power
    except for the ones that get approved by the PUC ... boom, overcharging ... to the tune of
    $6,000,000,000 before people notice. In the meantime, the power companies are locked
    into the rates that they demanded and are steadily going bankrupt.

    To make things more interesting, parent companies (global) of the CA power companies are refusing to give
    back the money that they sucked out when they sold off their power generating supplies. They instead
    demand to be released from their respective contracts.

    Which they got.

    Free market? Deregulation? It's all bullshit.
  • by mjh ( 57755 ) <> on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @06:11PM (#332277) Homepage Journal
    I have never qualified for DSL at my house. I have cable modem. I've heard a lot of people, mostly DSL providers, telling me that cable modem will always be slower than DSL, and after almost 30 months with cable modem, I'm convinced that the DSL providers are full of it.

    Now I don't claim to know that DSL is slow. I have no idea, I've never had it at my house. But cable ain't slow. My cable modem provider [] has put a 12MB file for download at their central site. This download is directly at the other end of the cable infrastructure, so downloading this file is a good test of the cable infrastructure. Armed with linux (as the only OS in my household thank you very much) I set up a cron job to download this file every 30 minutes and report the results.

    During the first 21 months or so, I got between 600 and 700 kBytes/s (i.e. 4.8 - 5.6 Mbits/s). Then at about 21 months, roadrunner installed a bandwidth cap, and since then I've gotten between 240 kBytes/s (1.9 Mbits/s) and 260 kBytes/s (2.0 Mbits/s).

    After almost 30 months of continuous testing, I have NEVER seen the alleged slow downs that are supposed to come because the cable infrastructure is shared. And it isn't for lack of subscribers in my neighborhood! There are 4 people that I know have it on my culdesac alone!

    Now, of course, it's a whole different ball of wax when I try to go to the Internet in general. There I get wildly fluctuating speed variations. (As you would expect) But across the cable infrastructure, I can floor it whenever I want, at any time of day.

    My conclusion? I don't know if DSL is slow or not but what Simson Garfinkle said in his salon article [] is 100% on the money.

    And the stuff that the DSL providers tell you about speed is just hogwash. And I'm pretty sure that all the stuff that they tell you about security is also crap.. although I can't really prove that it's crap.

    The only thing that I don't like about cable modem is the lack of competition. I wish there was someone else out there other than roadrunner. Cuz they suck. Their mail server is slow, their response to problems is terrible. I'd love to be able to threaten them with switching to another provider. But hey, what's a monopoly if you don't get to stick it to someone!

  • I live in Boulder, CO and have seen drastic differences between ADSL and Cable connections.

    Although ADSL has the capability of 4+ Megabit connections, Qwest Communications limits ones max speed depending on how much money you spend a month. $40-month will get you 640k, 6 months ago it was 256k (ATT@Home started offering Cable service 6 months ago). In order to get 1M you need to spend ~$100 a month.

    These prices also assume that you choose "Deluxe" service and have a free DNS server. The "Deluxe" service allows one to stay online indefinately, whereas the regular service kicks you off if the number or regular service members goes up and you have been online for a while. When you get bumped during regular service you must waite at least 5 minutes before reconnecting. Also, if you aren't a student using the University service then you have to pay for a DNS server to handle your account, which costs roughly another $18 per month. Therefore, for 640k speeds then expect to pay ~$58 per month.

    The cable modem I now have averages download speeds of ~1M, I have seen speeds of no lower than 640k download but as high as 3M. Upload speeds are currently capped at 128k. Due to the competition ATT informed me that if I were to see noticeable degredation of speed during peak hours to contact them and they would alliviate the problem. According to the technicion, when ATT put in the new infastructure they allowed for easy branching of the cable cells to allow for growth. I pay $40 per month, no extra charge for a DNS hookup or having to choose "Deluxe" service.

    Qwest is having their lunch taken by ATT right now. I have not heard a single complaint from Bouder users about ATT@Home, whereas the number of people who are discontent with their ADSL service seems to grow monthly. I suspect that in order to compete with ATT that Qwest will bump up the speeds of the basic connection again. I must say, competition can be great when it exists.
  • If Canada gets DSL at 2mbps for $40 a month, I'd say US DSL *is* slower. The fastest DSL speeds in the US are 1.5mbps for $39, which is available in the MidWest. In my area (Northern VA) the fastest available DSL speeds are 640k for $50. There is 1.5mbps service from Earthlink for $40, but that is burstable and rarely reaches that. The 640k DSL is also from a crappy provider, so for all intents and purposes, the most reasonable DSL solution is 416K or 768K SDSL (love that dedicated bandwidth!) for $50-$70 a month.
  • by alee ( 64786 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @03:00PM (#332289)
    In my experience, unless your ISP artificially throttles back your available bandwidth, most people will find cable to be significantly faster than DSL. The concept of "shared" bandwidth is lost because in the end, everyone's sharing bandwidth from someone (even DSL). I would venture to say that unless you live in a heavy tech corridor, where all your neighbors have cable modem, you will not likely feel the pinch. Additionally, cable appears to be more readily available, and is cheaper than DSL access for the amount of bandwidth you get.

    However, in terms of regulation, I think that DSL has been friendlier to the subscribers in terms of allowing VPNs and allowing you to run your own servers. A lot of cable broadband providers have really started to crack down on this.

    I think speed is only half the issue that is being faced here. It's always nice to pull down a file at speeds over the 1Mbps mark, but with all the rules and regulations, what's the point of having all that bandwidth if you can't use it the way you want?

    I'd rather keep my slow 640kbps/90kbps DSL line and be left alone, instead of having an ultra-fast cable modem connection where I can't VPN, can't run a server, and can't have a static IP.

  • All internet connections are shared.

    In the case of Cable vs. ADSL, you can choose to either have the cable shared from the mux to your neighbourhood or straight from Ma Bell to the rest of the Internet. ISPs buy large pipes (sometimes from multiple providers, sometimes their own) and _share_ them across their users. That's the whole system ... ADSL is shared, just at a different concentration point.
  • Living in ONtario as well and knowing someone at one of the upstream bandwidth providers, several cable providers are definately oversold on their Internet bandwidth.

    Talking to a local installer, their internal networks have oodles of free bandwidth (cable can move a lot of data) but their Internet access points (Cisco routers) are maxed out.
  • The low speed that people are using could be down to their distance from the exchange.

    Here in Australia, the only speed conenctions you can rent from Telstra are 256kb, 512kb or 1.5Mb. They don't offer anything higher probably because they can't guarantee the service (or their too dman lazy :) ).

    Another reason could be the connections that DSL providers have to the outside world. For the number of users / modems they have, their outside connections may be too slow for higher speeds. Faster connections for them may be prohibitively expensive too. Reducing the connection speed they sell to end users avoids having to explain to people why they can only ever seem to get 15kB per sec. on a 512kb line.
  • SBC *does* offer 6Mbps DSL. However, expect to pay an arm and a leg for it, as this is supposedly a business-class connection. Even with this connection, though, your upstream is limited to 384kbps. This really doesn't make sense, IMO. A business-class connection really should be SDSL, or ADSL going the other way; one would think that the upstream performance is just as important as the downstream performance.
  • Here in Qwest land the prices ramp up pretty fast: []

    The first three are all sold as "256K" connections, but in reality all are 640 down, 272. And the $20 one is Windows-only. So the (monthly) pricing basically goes:

    • $30 for 640K/272K
    • $60 for 640K/544K
    • $70 for 960K/816K
    • $80 for 1.2M/1M
    • $150 for 4.4M/1M
    • $250 fol 7.1M/1M

  • I get ~700kps both up and down from Darwin Networks in Seattle. The bad news is they charge double for a static IP.


  • The latter is only true, afaik.

  • Out here, Comcast delivers cable internet to some places in the city. I'm out of range, so I'm still on a plain old dialup, but a few of my friends have reported speeds up to 8Mbps. (That's bits per second.) This shocked and amazed me, becuase I've heard that cable internet is only like $20-30 per month on top of your regular cable bill. Much cheapter than DSL for certain. Can anyone verify this?

    In the early days, I've also heard a lot of rumour about how cable internet was basically shared bandwidth with the rest of the neighborhood. ie- If the kid down the street starts downloading massive warez, your connection is pretty much hosed for the night. Can anyone verify this either?
  • by drin ( 83479 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @02:45PM (#332319)
    In many instances (AFAIK) in the US, the provider is imposing artificial caps on rates, particularly upstream. The idea as I understand it is to limit the subscribers' ability to host websites and ftp servers off their DSL or cable connection. @Home was lambasted for this last year (see here [] for more info), especially after a configuration error at the head-end capped downstream rates!

    You can find an international cable modem ISP FAQ with service comparisons here [] if you're looking for more information. It's dated December, 2000, so take it with a grain of salt.

  • by jalewis ( 85802 ) <jlewis.packetnexus@com> on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @02:45PM (#332320) Homepage
    Here in Northern Virginia, Verizon controls the last mile. The rule is, if Verizon doesn't offer it as a service, then other ISP's can't either. Verizon doesn't run DSL if you are too far from the central office, so the ISP can't either.

    It pisses me off.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @02:42PM (#332325) Homepage Journal
    In some places, you can only get DSL over ISDN which limits you to 120kbits/sec, which only slightly sucks less than a 56k analog line.

    For DSL areas where this is not the case, you can get up to the megabit range, depending on the distance from your central office. Most ISPs I've seen offer 256K both ways with non-static IPs for $40 a month. You want static IPs so you can run servers, it'll cost you more.

    From what I've seen of cable, you usually get around 1.5 mbit downstream with a pretty weak upstream.

    I've seen wireless providers start to spring up with speeds ranging anywhere from 64 kbits/sec to 3 mbits/sec. Most of them seem to have a pretty odious set of service terms.

    Most solutions not involving static IPs seem to run around $40 a month.

    FWIW, when I worked at MCI a few years back, we'd lease you out a T1 line for $1600 a month PLUS Local Loop Charges (Which in some cases would cost you more than the line itself.) Oh and if you weren't a business, they didn't want to talk to you at all, even if you could afford the line.

  • Huh? "minimums"? Obviously you don't mean that the rates are guaranteed after the CO... And the min speed would also the max speed between you and the CO, since there isn't any line sharing. Are you talking about the lowest negotiable connection rate provided by a rate-adaptive protocol between you and the CO? Having to drop to 384k with any modern DSL protocol would mean that your area must have some insanely long loop lengths... Are average loop lengths higher in the US or something?
  • I have a feeling that the more recent deregulation of local telecomms in Canada could have a positive influence on telcos' equipment purchasing decisions. However, I can't see demand for connections being much higher per capita in Canada than in the US, and areas of equivalent population density still have higher DSL costs in the US than in Canada.

    Here in Waterloo, ON, Canada (University town, high level of CSers in the area) I pay CA$40/month for ~1mbit down, 128kbit up ADSL. During the summer, at home in Yellowknife, NT, Canada (Population 17000 town in the middle of nowhere with a primarily mineral-resource-based economy -- and relatively high average income), I pay CA$60/month for 2.5mbit down, 800kbit up ADSL. In both areas, the local telco high-speed internet connectivity competes at least against competitively priced cable company offerings. (Although, in Yellowknife, the local cable company is a subsidiary of the phone company...)
  • In the UK a pitiful number of users have broadband access. The lucky ones get 512kb/s async access.

    In the UK our contention ratios are really bad too. Typically on a 512Kbps ADSL line there is a contention ratio of 50:1. AFAIK in the US this figure would be closer to 3:1 (?).

    The monthly cost of 512Kbps ADSL is around £40 (roughly US$57 ). You can't get static IPs with the "residential" product either, you have to pay a lot more for the "business" product if you want static IP.

    This is all thanks to BT, the telco that has a monopoly on all the hardware. They are supposed to be losing their monopoly this summer (fingers crossed), hopefully we'll see some competition then and some more realistic prices/bandwidth/contention ratios (and static IPs!)

  • Obviously, when you talk about 128kbps for DSL, you're talking about ADSL. Dunno about Canada, but here in the states, the ADSL and cable providers don't see a need for increased upload throughput because most of the providers prohibit any kind of server run "in connection with the service." Download throughputs on cable modems in the Dallas area max out at around 500-600Kbps (according to my totally non-scientific survey of fellow cable modem users).

    Even in the larger cities, DSL availability is extremely limited. I live within 20 miles of Dallas, yet DSL is not available, nor will it be for a long time to come because we're serviced by a "remote CO" -- basically a small building that doesn't have the room for DSL equipment. You have to live with what you can get.

  • I have been a cable subscriber in biggest finnish cable isp called HTV now for like 2 years. And yes, many people do report that cable lines are fast and i totally agree with them. I can ftp into and pull the latest linux iso's at speed of 600k/s. But the speed varies! The thing is that allmost every major website and software distribution site is in States and that is a killer. HTV's foreign connections are so so so so bad. I even remember downloading IE from microsoft at 8k/s while same download come at 100k/s to my office T1 line. So, speed comparisements are that accurate when comparing a technology itself. Best way imho is to compare ISP's and their services to the user eg. what kind of services they can provide to the end-user.

    But to my real point. As i said, i have had this cable isp for over year now (closing on to 2) and while most of the time i get decent speed while downloading stuff, all pings are horrible. I have never and i do mean never seen steady ping under 100ms except to the next hop in my traceroute to the world. No matter if the site im pinging is in Finland, or Sweden or States, pings can vary from 80-2000ms. Thou most usually its around 130-300ms. And the frigin packet loss. 10-35%. Man, try writing code thu ssh with packet loss of 30% and ping around 500 and you see how things are with cable connections (atleast in Finland & with HTV) (And yes, there is nothing wrong in cabling, all have been tested with good equipment)

    As a comparisement, all finnish isp that support DSL service have much better reputation (infact, im going to work in one) and people have made websites out of their own experience with they have turned down their cable and ordered dsl lines. Here's some "downtime" statistics pages of people who use HTV cable line. First [], Second [] and third one []

    For a bit of amusement, i must say that people are starting to act like those "cable subscribers" in that Pasific Bell DSL commercial (check out adcritic [] for laughs, and sorry, no linux there, its in *quicktime*). Well, when i first saw it, it made me laugh too but now, its so so real.

  • I'm from South Mississippi. I'd like to think I'm one of the brighter ones (I can count to twenty without taking my shoes off.)

    In my hometownof Biloxi, there are two options for broadband. The cable company offers service (560kb downstream / 128kb upstream @ $50/month) and BellSouth just recently rolled out it's own choppy DSL (1.5 Mbit downstream / 128 kbit upstream @ $50/month). While neither have absolutely outstanding upstream rates, the DSL does provide the downstream rate as advertised. I've never used the cable, but I have friends who say it has brief outages. The DSL disconnects randomly. Suffice to say, it's mediocre down here in the Land of Cotton.

  • I have friends that get 7mbps in boston. Your maximum speed relys on what service you have, how much you pay, and (mostly) how close you are to your service's routing station.

    I've seen DSL get as fast as 7mbps while cable modems get as fast as a T1 (or in some cases, slightly faster - I have a friend who beta-tested it years ago).

    The real difference is that Cable modems are variable speeds, a lot like a shared T1, while DSL is guaranteed throughput at the speed you pay for. If you pay for 128kbps, you get it (anything slower is the other side's fault). There are different types of DSL as well, differing on max speed and upstream (server) speed. [] has a good review of DSL speeds, stating "A T1 has long been the favourite line to host a corporate server on, and the top SDSL speed is the same as a T1, and the top ADSL speeds are a lot faster than T1"

    Slashdot had an article [] a while ago that pointed at a good dsl vs cable overview at [].

  • I've worked for an ISP that provided cable modem (CM) service, and I have used both cable modems and DSL. It does depend on the provider, yes, but there are also other factors to consider.

    With cable modems, the speed also depends on where the concentrators for your segment of cable are (that includes how many others are using the service, and how much bandwidth is available to your segment), and any sources of line noise or other problems.

    With DSL, the distance to the CO (central office) affects your speed (the further from the CO, the lower your speed will be), as does the quality of the lines between you and the CO (in your walls, building, between your building and the CO, and the lines and equipment in the CO, plus any sources of line noise and the like).

    Another factor, but one you may not have considered, is the bandwidth of your provider out to the rest of the Internet. If you have 4Mbps to your location, but the provider only has a 1.544Mbps T-1 out to the rest of the 'Net, then your game of Q3 with your buddies from work/school who are also on that provider may be great, but you will likely see a slow download from SourceForge or your favorite p0rn site at peak usage times. (Over-subscribing bandwidth would not be surprising-before such high-speed services, it was not uncommon for providers to subscribe users sometimes to the rate of 10 to 15 per available modem line, because on average you won't use your capacity to anywhere close to 100% most of the time.)

    Providers may also limit the bandwidth of uploads to discourage the running of servers from their networks. Many of them may consider the ability to run a web or mail server a billable service to be offered to commercial customers, and thus may offer higher speeds or additional addressing in their packages aimed to their business clients. (It would not seem to be very prudent of them to offer partial T-1 access at several hundred dollars per month and turn around and offer T-1 speed DSL/CM service for $50 per month when the customer can get a box to do NAT and put their entire office on that DSL/CM connection for an initial few hundred dollars or less, now would it?)

    Since they are also the ones to catch the brunt of (calls / emails / other complaints) about (SPAM / illegal materials / hack attempts / etc.) that appear to originate from their network, even if they have no control over such, limiting such things by limiting the ability to run servers can sound like a reasonable step.

    Not attempting to justify anything, just pointing out a few things to consider.
  • Here's some URLs for anyone interested. Sorry about not using HTML.

    Yipes - the Ethernet service provider. 100 Mbit/second for $1000 a month... nice. Mind you, they're a startup, and probably bound to go bankrupt if their peers are any indication.

    Enkido - 100 Mbit not fast enough for you? How about your own personal OC-768 connection? Trouble is - there isn't a single company or use on the planet requiring 40 Gigabit/second speeds.

    Light Reading - the best news site on the Internet for optical networking, IMO:

    Verizon - the bastards offering 7.1 Mbit/second and getting sued by many, many parties: sl .htm

    Of course, Verizon's service varies wildly with the area in which you live, so be sure to navigate to their homepage and start from there> Products and Services > (Home or Small Biz) > Choose state, etc...

    Techweb - good general tech industry website, some optical and wireless announcements:

    Silicon Strategies - good site for silicon-related info, especially chips like MPUs, RAM, and companies involved with them. Also wireless and optical announcements here as well:

  • I was watching a program the other night about a small town way out in the middle of nowhere in the Nebraska panhandle. The town decided that they needed to keep up with technology because they were so remote. They put in fiber everywhere to within 3 miles of everyone in the county. There are farmers out their with fast DSL connections. I just got my cable installed a couple weeks ago in the 3rd largest town in NE so I didn't cry about it.
  • In the UK a pitiful number of users have broadband access. The lucky ones get 512kb/s async access. The rest are stuck with modem access that's supposed to give 56kb/s but often provides just 33.6.

    Essentially, we have two offerings (though you have to be lucky to get either!):

    1. ADSL. Offered by our single, monopolistic telephone provider. Available in tiny amounts of the country.
    2. Cable. A better, and cheaper offering, but still only async. 512kb/s. Availability is limited to large towns.

    The Register had a good story [] on how the uk and europe trailed the US and Canada.....

    I'm connected to Cable via NTL [] and am very happy. Sure, the 2mb/s link at work is nice - but 512kb/s is plenty for SSH ;)

  • The real difference is that Cable modems are variable speeds, a lot like a shared T1, while DSL is guaranteed throughput at the speed you pay for. If you pay for 128kbps, you get it (anything slower is the other side's fault).

    You're assuming business class DSL here I'm guessing? I typically get between 400 and 600 Kbs down, and about 200Kbs up (Telocity ADSL, New Orleans, LA), but I have no guarentee on either. Basically we get what we get (not that I'm complaining, the service is rarely a problem, and the bandwidth usually quite good, but not gaurenteed). I like Telocity for the static IP (Only service in the area that guarentees my IP won't change, and encourages servers while most are forbiding them), and their server policies, but I would not use them for anything mission critical. My business (if such a thing existed) would have SDSL through a large provider like PSI, or a fractional T-1.

  • by edunbar93 ( 141167 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @03:23PM (#332403)
    Go directly here [] for a listing of ISP's and the speeds they provide. This page also has links to prices on the providers' webpages for more accurate information.

    Hope that helps. HAND. :)

  • I've had cable in houston for over a year now (courtesy of TW/AOL), and I've been getting downstream speeds of 2Mbps+, and upload speeds of 384-512Kbps.

    I also know people who recieve DSL service from (SW)Bell and Mindspring. I don't know the numbers, but overall I've heard that Mindspring DSL is at least 3x faster than SWB.... I think mindspring caps off at about 1.5Mbps though...

  • I've had cable in houston for over a year now (courtesy of TW/AOL), and I've been getting downstream speeds of 2Mbps+, and upload speeds of 384-512Kbps.

    I also know people who recieve DSL service from (SW)Bell and Mindspring. I don't know the numbers, but overall I've heard that Mindspring DSL is at least 3x faster than SWB.... I think mindspring caps off at about 1.5Mbps though...
  • I regularly get between 500kbps and 4000kbps on our @home cable. (south west washington area).
  • I don't think he's confused. 128kbps (bits) is the AT&T @Home imposed upstream. This covers good percentage of broadband users.
  • On the east coast of the USA, in New Jersey, speeds are around 3Mb/s, right on the button. It seems to max out at that speed (but I'm not complaining).
  • well, [] has a nice mix of feed back on user reports on the quality of service, although I do not know about actual speed reports. The site itself is pretty good.

    Be careful on the typos, though. Switching a couple of letters around will get you something else indeed.

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @02:53PM (#332446) Journal
    Here is the link to []. Their main claim to fame is that they set themselves up as their own ISP, with rates one third of the national average. They want to help other small communities to do the same [].

    Get enough folks together, and you could have a sweet setup.

  • I live in Boston too, and I share your pain with regard to getting high speed access. I signed up for Flashcom when I first moved into my apartment near the Fens, because they were the only ones who would arrange to have a "dry" line run from the CO to my apartment just for DSL service. My POTS circuit wouldn't qualify, probably because the wiring is 50 years old or there are repeaters or fiber somewhere along the route.

    Of course, Flashcom's actual service is a complete and utter joke, and I'm just happy that they went belly-up and cut me loose from my contract 8 months early. Now I use Speakeasy DSL. They cost the same, but I get multiple static IPs, and they're a lot more friendly to power users.

    Still, the fastest residential-type high speed access you can get around here is 1.5 megabits over a cable modem. And of course that's subject to availability (ie you can get it almost anywhere in the state other than Boston - WTF?!), and to line sharing issues. Still, if I could get a cable modem, I would. They're only $40/month for typically 600 - 800kbit speed, sometimes higher. I pay $50 for a pokey 384kbit link. Booooo!

    Just for kicks, check out
  • Title says it all. plus they are very professional and understand unix. They charge 49 including static IP.

  • I have a feeling that the more recent deregulation of local telecomms in Canada could have a positive influence on telcos' equipment purchasing decisions.

    Are you nuts? The reason you have good comm systems in Canada (regarded as the *best* phone system on the planet) is because we owned and regulated the infrastructure. Decisions were based on the needs of that infrastructure for the purpose of providing communications services - nothing else. Not marketing. Not 'Market Conditions'. Not 'accounting'. Sure the system was tempered by a financial-check, but basically the system was built with one thing in mind, and that was designed by engineers; not F'ing MBAs.

    When you open up and sell the networks to capitalists you will see that quarterly profits will make decisions on 'equipment purchasing decisions'. Listen to American's horror stories about *their* telephone systems and learn what the the capitalists provide with regards to this essential public infrastructure.

    De-regulating Public Services and Infrastructure is the *worst* thing Canada has done to itself in the last 10 years. Its fucking sad that ottawa has sold us out. Capitalists should not be involved in providing Cable Television, Phone Service, Power, Water or Gas. The whole idea is disgusting. Where is the moral reality to profiting from essential infrastrucutre - what is the benefit to citizens?

  • by ( 184378 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @04:18PM (#332458) Journal
    Imagine a market where there is one product with many companies selling that product, but there are no competiting products.

    In some markets, the companies selling the product will compete with each other in such a way as to both lower the price for the consumer and to actually provide a better product for that price. Let's call this place, Wonderland.

    Now, there's another market, let's call it, You-Get-Shafted-Land, the companies do not compete on price/value. There are a number of reasons for this:

    1. The company/companies sell the only product -- the product itself has no competition, thus you have to buy that one product. The companies realize this and end up following the leader... whoever is the largest company sets their price and everyone else more or less uses that price. Thus, the consumer has a lot of choice of manufacturers/providers, but they are not realizing true "market" prices.

    2. One company controls the infrastructure. A local telephone company can charge their competitors (who must use their lines) just enough to keep themselves competitive.

    This is the problem with DSL (at least in San Francisco): The DSL providers don't have much competition from cable providers, thus the price/value of DSL has not changed in two years. When I signed up for DSL over two years ago, I signed up for year, fully expecting to be paying "too much" at the end of that term, because prices dropped through the floor while my year contract was in place. Prices actually went up (well, value went down); eg: I got a static IP for free, now they cost extra. Prices did not go down because the DSL providers know everyone wants it (that's fine) but they know that there is no alternative. Why try to undercut your competitor when you can make money selling at their rate? If people want T1 speeds on their DSL (assuming their line supports it), they'd better be ready to pay through the nose for it. I should mention, though, that it is cheaper than frame relay, although far less reliable. I have PacBell DSL, and there is no reason for me to switch to another provider... they all cost more for less service.

    Right now, companies would rather charge a lot of money for broadband access, while the market is still relatively young (despite the technology being relatively old in comparison). When DSL starts to get into every home, then the value will increase: economies of scale should kick in. In the meantime, expect companies to charge too much for the current services...

    Think of it this way: If you are willing to pay $40 a month for a service (say, 384kbit down/128 kbit up with a dynamic IP), why would they ever offer you T1 speeds for the same price (assuming they could)? Remember, think as the producer, not as the consumer. The question is not "What is best for the consumer?" it is, "How do I make the most profit." And there's nothing wrong with that.

    My problem with "modern" DSL is the use of PPPoE and software DSL modems. Why can't we just use bridged connections? The routers are the same, you can still get a DHCP address over it... And software DSL modems are not compatible... WinModems, anyone? Sure, they work on Linux now, but what about other OSes? Why not use existing standards that work, rather than making up your own?
  • Optus@Home is one of two cable Internet services available in Australia - the other is run by Telstra, who are Australias national, partly-government owned Telecommunications company/carrier. Telstra offer two kinds of accounts - an "unlimited download" account, which is speed capped (I'm not aware of what speed this service is capped at) and an uncapped service, for which you pay per megabyte once you have downloaded over 200MB (it could be 500MB, but for some reason 200MB sticks in my head). The unlimited download account is quite slow compared to Optus' cable service, but from all reports the pay-per-megabyte service is just as fast, if not faster.
    Since I'm on Telstra I'll fill in the rest of the story. Telstra has two levels of capping for unlimited downloads: 256Kb/64Kb (kilobit) and 512Kb/128Kb. I'm on 512Kb and it costs about AU$75 per month (about US$30). It is easy to saturate that bandwidth to foreign servers (at least US servers). The uptake of broadband has been slow over here. Part of the cause is a lack of competition. Even though I live in the largest city in Australia I could only get Telstra's service because when I signed up (about 18 months ago) Optus would not provide service to "multi-dwelling buildings" (i.e. apartment blocks).
  • I'm currently living in the Charleston, SC area (although I'm moving in a month). I can attest that Cablemodem speeds, at least in this area, are by no means slow.

    I have been watching my download rates for no other reason than to see how fast I'm paying for. what I've noticed is this:


    I have peaked at about 950 kBps (that's in bytes; in bits, it's ~7.6 Mbps).


    Now, I don't consider myself an expert, but nearly maxing out my 10 Mbps NIC does not seem slow. especially since I'm only paying for 1 Mbps....

    Admitedly, the biggest weakness in this claim is the method used to test the speed. What I did was install gkrellm, and just watch to see what was the biggest number I could get. I turned out that while I was downloading the glibc source, it hit 958 kilobytes per second, and this is the largest number I have seen.

    However, it is normal for me to see download rates in the range of 600-700 kilobyte per second.


  • by CPIMatt ( 206195 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @02:38PM (#332489)
    This information is available from It has bandwidth information based on provider provided by actual users, but a wealth of other information including installation experiences and tips about network achitechture. Very cool, check it out.

  • by Bistromat ( 209985 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @02:38PM (#332491)
    I've never heard of such DSL speeds here in Boston, certainly, and my best guess is that the telephone architecture (especially the wiring in houses) is on the average so old (fabric-covered wires instead of twisted-pair) that higher speeds are impossible *in some cases*, so they can't very well offer higher speeds if some of their customers can't take advantage of it. Covad is having enough trouble already, and they certainly don't want the extra hassle of higher speeds.

    The other thing, and the more major issue, is *price*. 4 Mbps for $40-$100? And that's probably *CANADIAN* dollars, too. Jebus. I feel ripped-off now.

  • For those interested, you can bond 2 DSL lines together with certain DSL routers. Take a look at this pdf document [] that describes bonding 2 lines using the the R7171 DSL router [].

    Where 'bonding' doesn't lead to group hugs! >> The Linux Pimp []

  • by tenzig_112 ( 213387 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @02:43PM (#332495) Homepage
    There you go again with "In Canada" this and "In Canada" that.

    Maybe I want slower DSL speeds so I can savor each packet. Have you ever thought of that, Gordon?

    Of course not, you were too busy with your socialized medicine and quasi non-violent prime-time tv programming to think of it.

    Perhaps you should consider an alternative explanation: your DSL speeds are just as slow (or slower) than they are in the US of A, but special software makes you think your throughput numbers are better. It's all a clever rouse by the CIA to keep you Kanuks up there where we can keep a good eye on you.

    Think it won't work? Somebody convinced you that round ham was "back bacon." I rest my case.

    -- Sincerely,
    A descent, upstanding American []

  • It's not just the raw datarate, but also how well you are connected. A good indicator would be how fast a download can take place from several key points on the Internet (CNET, Microsoft, eBay, etc)

    Also don't neglect latency and reliability (how many hours of downtime per month average where downtime is the inability to talk to approximately half the Internet).

    P.S. I get 640kbits/sec down and 272kbits/sec up on my Qwest DSL. Connectivity is excellent, often better than my T3 at work.

  • For $30 a month, I get guaranteed 3mbps download (it's never dropped below 4, though), and guaranteed 1mbps upload. This is on cable mind you - the service is Optimum Online (, and I believe it's available in New York and Connecticut. I love downloading RedHat iso's in 6 minutes.
  • by jo42 ( 227475 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @03:15PM (#332511) Homepage
    Last year I moved from Toronto, ON to Campbell, CA (small town wedged between Los Gatos, CA and San Jose, CA) - about 15 minutes from the biggest concentration of bandwidth on the whole frickin' planet.

    In Canada, I had cable and ADSL (one after the other). Around 1-1.5 Mbps for $40+ CDN a month.

    In the US, I tried to get ADSL. No go. Too far away from the CO. Sure I could have 144/144 Kbps IDSL for $125 US a month, but no thanks, too much $$$.

    Cable is a no go as well because the whole AT&T cable infrastructure in the San Jose area is about 500 years old and they won't be able to provide the service for between 1 to 5 years from now. But, mind you, I do have digital cable.

    This is Silicon Valley, hi-tech mecca of the world - why can't I get high speed Internet access at home???

    What did I do? I finally broke down this week and picked up a Ricochet 128 Kbps wireless modem from Fry's. I'm getting 'tween 70-100 Kbps and the best part is I can slap it to my laptop and take it around with me.

    There is no 'new' economy, there was no 'new' economy - there is just economy 101 and everyone has to play by its rules - me

  • Cable is *soo* much faster; a friend of mine was getting 2mbits/sec from of all places, and I've seen faster.

    DSL around here is just slow.

    But that's what you're going to see; local usage patterns, load on the local network and the internet, and the time of day affect things a lot.

    Therefore, I'd expect Canada to be faster just based on the "local network" thing...
  • I've had cable modem (AT&T@Home) and ADSL (USWorst, now Qwisp (or was that Qwest)). My brother's the manager for installs at Cox Cable in Santa Barbara, and he's got Cox@Home.

    Cox doesn't have line caps in SBA (or didn't last time we talked), so they can actually deliver 4Mbps fairly well, and a lot of the places they wire are willing to pay for premium cable access (movie stars, etc.). But AT&T@Home has line caps and I think it's something like 128K but depends on where you are.

    DSL's been pretty good - I used to get 720K down and 128K up, even though I paid for 256K at my old place in Ballard. In Fremont, which is easier to be wired in, I pay for 256K and I get about 512K down and 128K up. And it's not the 20:1 service they sell in the boonies, it's single access DSL, so it's consistent.

    The latency on the WinNT boxen they use for mail servers is pretty bad though. And their DHCP seem to be the same.

    But, and this is my point, you need to join the bands of infonaughts and rebel against high speed access. If you have high speeds, people expect you to actually check your email once a day, but when you have 19.6k, they expect you to check your email once a week at most.

    Throw off your shackles, America! Rebel against the Microsoftian "Always On" Thought Police! Remember our slogan: 56K or Fight!

    Throw your PDAs in the Sound and your laptops to the ground! Drop your beepers in the river!

    Disconnect, disinfect, and drop offline!

  • DSL does not go through the voice filter. It runs at higher frequencies than the voice signal. That is why you can talk on your phone while using DSL. There are filters at the central office and (usually) at the phone box at your residence that separate the frequency bands used by voice and DSL. DSL is essentially limited by distance and distortion in the line. There are VDSL modems that can achieve 52 Mbps. They require the user to be within 1 mile of the central office. Point of interest (at least to me!) Home phone line networking devices use frequencies that are even higher than DSL. Thus, you could potentially run voice, DSL, HPNA over the same twisted pair.
  • by antarctican ( 301636 ) on Wednesday March 28, 2001 @03:25PM (#332570) Homepage
    When I submitted that comment my query was on the value people were getting for their dollar. Not "how far you are from the CO and the speed you get". Just from talking to American friends it seems our plans up here are better, and I'm wondering why. Maybe because the CRTC regulates such things....

    Which is kinda funny, the American "free market" screws out the consumers. In the same way the "free market" has let California power prices now skyrocket, this free market is letting you all be screwed by your telephone and cable providors.

    My plan currently is $65 for 4Mbps down and 640k up, and 5 IPs. For $40 I can get 2.5Mbps down, 512k up and 2 IPs. Why are the plan so bad down there? And "the network can't handle it" isn't an excuse, why aren't they upgrading the networks? We can obviously handle it. I usually run into no bottlenecks until I reach the server at the far end of the connection.

    Anyhow... maybe it's just the exchange rate... 4Mbps up here in 256k down there. =)

    antarctican at trams dot ca
  • Different providers and ISPs target to different markets. For example: Here in Tucson I have no less than 3 choices for line providers Covad, New Edge and Qwest, and about 20 ISPs. Each takes a dfferent approach to how the offer DSL. Covad is mainly concerned with residential users and offeres 1.5mb/384kb ADSL lines. I've been told the stability isn't great and that is NOT a gaurenteed speed. You can get up to that but if your lines are bad or the service is loaded, too bad for you. Newedge has a similar (though slower) ADSL deal as well as a whole set of SDSL service. The SDSL is mainly targeted at bussinessess and is markedly more expensive, hwoever the speed is gaurenteed. Qwest has what I thik are the best offerings. They start out with 256k RADSL and go up to 7mb/1mb RADSL if your line can support it. All providers charge more for faster lines.Now the cost is pretty varied. For the Covad ADSL deal you can expect to pay about $80-$90/month. For Qwest RADSL 256k it's around $40-$50/month.

    Just as big a difference comes with ISP services. For example, most of Covads ISPs are not Tucson based, and tend to be slow and unreliable. Often you have to go all the way to Denver, LA or even New York before getting to the net. Basically, since they are all geared to the residential user, they tend to be a bit more lax. That isn't to say I haven't heard some good esperience, but the general tone with them is negative. Qwest gets much higher marks from most people. Most Qwest ISPs are Tucson based and tend to give better performance and serivce. Of course there are some that are bad (like Dakotacom) but many, like Qwest themselves are very good. I personally have a Qwest account and like it very much. They offer flexable deals anywhere from around $37/month for a 256k line that isn't always on up to around $500/month for a 7mb/1mb bussiness class line. Personally I went with one of thier 640/256k lines with bussiness class service and static IPs. All in all it costs me about $75/month but it's worth it to me. All the features I want, great uptime and I always get my full speed.

    So, the point of my rant here is don't try to compare DSL just on merit of it's cost. If someone is offering DSL in the 4mb rang for $40/month, well serive is going to suffer in other areas. Bandwidth isn't cheap. Generally performance suffers during peak times with those kind of services as well as them not allowing you to run servers/etc. A deal like Qwest's will cost you more, but you get what you pay for.

    So, as to the capping issue. Well, I think it's necessary for good DSL services to work. IF you give everyone uncapped DSL for cheap, well then you aren't going to be able to afford the upstream to back it up, hence their performance won't be up to its potential. However, if you cap all the speeds to match the price, then you can afford to give people everything they pay for. Which is better for a given person is a matter of choice. IF you're a casual user, probably one of the low cost, uncapped type deals is better. You will get great speeds at off times and a good rate. However, if you need a really reliable line and need to be gaurenteed you'll have your full bandwidth whenever you want it, you are probably going to have to go with someone more expensive.

    The only thing I really don't agree with is line capping, which everyone including Qwest does (that I know of). At a given line price Qwest will only give you so much bandwidth. Well, this is silly, a 7mb line really doesn't cost them any more than a 256k line. What costs more is the bandwidth. Personally, I think the lines ought ot be flat rate (ie $40/month for a line up to whatever speed oyu lines support) and then the ISP fee increase in porportion to how much bandwidth you want them to give oyu. As it stands both go up. It's $30 for Qwest's basic always on 640k line, but $150 for a 4mb/1mb line. Both come over the same copper, they just charge more for the second.

  • At my family's home in metrowest boston, they have both verizon dsl and att roadrunner. They both suck, but for different reasons. The cable modem is VERY lagged, although we can get up to 150KB/sec when downloading. I don't know whats causing that problem, but its a pain trying to frag/read slashdot/connect to AIM. Verizon is pretty good, but we very rarely get the advertised 640k/128k speeds. connections are quick, however. Plus the PPPoE software sucks.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller