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Surfing speeds improve

Download speeds rise 60 percent from the year before, in spite of a number of glitches, according to an Internet performance data service.

The speed of Internet downloads improved 60 percent from the year before, in spite of a number of network outages that occurred this February, according to Keynote Systems, an Internet performance data service.

Measuring the time it takes for a user to request and download a Web page over a T1 line or better, the average download time in January was 21.44 seconds compared with 35.17 seconds the year before, and 24.39 seconds in February from 42.89 in the same year-ago period.

Yet as average download times improved, February still fell victim to network outages due to problems at two main network access points--MAE-East and MAE-West. MAEs, which are operated by WorldCom, are network junction points where ISPs exchange traffic.

In addition to the MAE outages, BBN's West Coast network problems also contributed to lower-than-expected performance during the third week of February.

Nonetheless, Gene Sklar, Keynote vice president of marketing, believes network backbone providers have kept improving backbone reliability and kept providing enough bandwidth for the increasing number of Net users.

"I think it's due to the fact that backbone providers have done a pretty good job at expanding and improving the conductivity of their backbones," said Sklar. "It's amazing that they've done that given how fast the usage of the Internet has grown."