What's my Connection Speed to the Internet?

    Your Internet connection speed is measured in kilobits or megabits per second, based on how fast your modem is or how fast your so-called "broadband" connection is.

"Bits" are the smallest whole units that can be sent back and forth on a network or stored on a computer. Think of bits as being one piece of information and you'll get the idea.

But when you're connected to the Internet, these bits don't stay long enough to leave much of an impression. Speed is what matters. The time it takes for a bit to go from your computer to mine is your computer's "throughput."

And how fast can that throughput be?
If your computer has its connection through a modem, you'd think your throughput would be the speed of the modem. What makes more sense than that? If you have the fastest normal modem -- a 56k modem, able to send and receive 56 kilobits per second -- you'd naturally think your maximum speed, or throughput, would be 56 kilobits per second. So a 56k modem should zip along at 56k, right?

Stop the Car! Your 56k modem doesn't push those bits out and pull them in at 56k. It does it much faster. And much slower. Either-or. And you don't get a say in the matter.

And the same holds true for the other modem speeds as well. If you have a 33.6k modem, it's movin' along at different speeds than you might think.

How could this happen?
Here's what really is happening. The first thing that affects the speed of your data transfer to and from the internet is your phone line. Bad line, bad speed. Good line, good speed. It's that simple. If you have a 33.6k modem and never get more than, say, 22.5k out of it, you can bet your phone line is bad.

The second thing to effect the speed of the transfer is compression of data. It turns long documents into short ones, big files into small ones. Files that are already compressed, like a .zip file won't be touched. But anything with a lot of empty space in it will be squeezed into a fraction of the space it used to take up. A file that was 300 kilobytes might be compressed down to 75 kilobytes.

Now consider that 300 kilobyte file. Squeeze it to 75 kilobytes and send it at the SAME speed as before and it gets there in 1/4 th the time. It gets there four times as fast. So that 56k modem might be considered a 224k modem if it's compressing everything the best that it can. And that 33.6k modem might be considered a 134.4k modem. You get the idea.

PPP (Dial Up) Modem Speed
SLIP Dial up Modem Speed
Deicated PPP/SLIP Modem Speed
56K Line 56 Kbps
PPP ISDN 128 Kbps
T1 1,544 Kbps
T3 44,184 Kbps
X.25 19.2 - 64 Kbps
Frame relay 64 - 512 Kbps
Fractional T1 64 Kbps
Thin/Thick Ethernet 10,000 Kbps
Fiber optic 100,000 Kbps
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