Broadband Internet Performance and speed
From the humble beginnings of dial up and hair-pullingly slow speeds that we had to endure during the 1990s, the internet has come a long way, and now nearly 70% homes and businesses have access to a broadband internet connection. Most broadband connections are advertised as operating at a particular speed, most frequently expressed as Mbps or Meg or some other abbreviation, but few really explain what this mean and how the speed will affect your experience.
Speed Jargon Explained
The speed usually advertised by broadband ISPs is the maximum download speeds that their services is theoretically capable of, expressed in megabits per second, and there is usually also a maximum upload speed, in most cases expressed in kilobits per second. 1000 kilobits equals 1 megabit, so it's clear that download speeds far exceed upload speeds, and that is because most broadband is supplied over ADSL connections using existing phone lines, and the downstream speed must necessarily exceed the upstream speed by a significant margin. That's fine though, because most people just want to download files and surf the web, so you needn't worry. The average ADSL broadband connection (that's using your old land line telephone wire) is capable of speeds up to around 8Mbps download speed. In reality, this speed will depend on how long your line is and how far you are from the local telephone exchange where your broadband connects to the main telecommunications trunk.
The longer the line the weaker the signal and so the slower the actual speed you will receive. In some areas speeds of up to 24Mbps are offered over your existing telephone lines, but these areas are limited to major urban areas and cities however constant growth of the networks along with high demand means more areas are now able to access these faster connections.
However, anything from 2Mbps upwards is fine for the light to medium internet user. 8Mbps is acceptable for a small business with less 10 employees using the connection. If you want a really quick connection then you might want to go for a fibre optic network connection, which are capable of speeds of up to 80Mbps. However, these are limited to areas in which the correct cabling has been laid, and the highest speeds come at the highest prices.
Broadband Speed Tests
Most ISPs will tell you the speed that your line is capable of achieving roughly before you sign up or switch between one broadband ISP and another. However, to get the most accurate reading you might consider using a broadband speed test to check your line. There are many sites that offer this, and it is a simple browser based program that will first download a file to your PC and see the speed at which this occurs, then upload a file and check the upload speed. This speed will often vary throughout the day, but it will give you a rough idea of what you can realistically expect from your line and should help you cut through the advertising gibberish and see the light.