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Real Impact of Differences in Internet Connection Speeds

by jerseyrock / March 2, 2010 12:13 PM PST

Want to quantify difference between a 15Mbps and a 25Mbps connection in real terms.

I guess 25Mbps is in theory 66% faster than 15Mbps -- but what will that really mean to me on a day-to-day basis?

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Depends On How You Use It
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / March 3, 2010 12:29 AM PST

Both speeds are really fast for a home user.. If all you do is surf the net and read email, you won't notice any difference as web pages will load equally as fast. Even viewing videos online won't display much difference since both speeds should allow for the full uninterrupted stream to smoothly download.

On the other hand, if you constantly download large files, or download multiple large files at the same time, such as music or such, you'll notice a difference in the time it takes to download the file. Of course, much depends on the "sender" of those downloads as well.. Some sites aren't able to "send" the files as fast as you can receive them... so sometimes, you won't be able to utilize all of the bandwidth of either speed.

So the "impact" will vary depending on what you do with all that bandwidth.

Hope this helps.


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Bith speeds are suspect, of course
by grtgrfx / March 5, 2010 9:46 AM PST

Considering that you'll never actually see rated speeds, it's a moot point. The sad fact is, due to variables such as distance to the servers, time of day, and the number of people in your neighborhood online at any given time, you'll be lucky to get 25% of any rated speed from your internet provider. Maybe some day we as consumers will force the telecom/cable providers to tell us the actual typical bandwidth for our areas instead of pie-in-the-sky "up to" speeds.

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Only Partially True
by Flatworm / March 5, 2010 10:33 PM PST

On a copper system it is true that you will seldom see the bitrate advertised unless you're on at 3:00 am and all your neighbors are asleep. Cable Internet connections are generally shared by everybody in your building or by your immediate neighbors and high traffic from other sources will slow down your throughput, sometimes significantly.

With newer fiber-optic connections like FiOS, though, you do tend to get the advertised speed, and sometimes a wee bit higher, all the time.

But the correspondent was correct that, if all you do is get your email and browse the web, you won't notice much difference above about 7 Mb. The difference is quite noticeable, however, if you upload and download large files, particularly if you use good old FTP and NNTP.

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you still may see a difference
by porsche10x / March 6, 2010 9:39 PM PST

Actually, I suspect you will see a marked difference even for just plain old web browsing. I used to get around 12Mb speeds from my cable company. I switched to FIOS and get a solid, consistent 20Mb (at least according to various speed tests). I definitely noticed an improvement in browsing speeds. Of course, it depends on the page. A simple page with only a paragraph of text will download in an instant regardless of connection speed. But, a lot more pages today have a lot of content that takes a while to load. A bunch of pictures, flash animations (ads are a big resource hog), java apps, etc. can really slow things down. Consider this. Any web page that takes longer than, say, one tenth of a second to download (which I suspect is most of them) will benefit greatly from a faster connection speed.

Also, depending on what you're doing, you should also look at the upload speed provided. It will likely be much slower than the download speed, so if you transfer large files or do videoconferencing, etc., you should compare this as well.

Of course, there are other issues. You have to consider the source. If the website's host is only providing, say, 5Mb of bandwidth, then anything above 5 at your end really won't help. Any bottleneck along the way will limit your bandwidth. It's the weakest link that determines the strength of the chain. Also, there are network settings that can improve your browsing speeds.

It's sad really, but when internet connection speeds were a thousand times slower, the perception of speed (specifically while browsing)wasn't that much different. Web pages were simpler and loaded quick enough. Yes, we have fancier content now, but most popular sites still take 5 seconds to load today, mostly so they can show you more ads. I was expecting the internet to work like turning the pages of a book. I'm still waiting.

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Higher speed helps on shared connection
by andrewbaggins / March 12, 2010 11:57 PM PST

We have a simple home network. Lady of the house may be playing games online while I'm surfing or downloading a big file or streaming some high quality video. We definitely noticed fewer delays and slowdowns when we upgraded to 12MB/second cable internet from our previous 4MB/second DSL service.

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