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Web access, email getting better

Netizens are hooking up to the Net faster with better connections than six months ago, according to new statistics released by Inverse Network Technology.

    Netizens are hooking up to the Net faster with better Web connections and getting their email delivered more quickly than six months ago, according to new statistics released by Inverse Network Technology.

    Inverse, an Internet measurement company, compared 13 top Internet service providers, looking at their connection rates, their ability to deliver Web pages, and in the case of some providers, their email systems.

    Both connection rates and Web delivery had improved over last quarter. Although this was the first time Inverse had measured email, the company also found that message delivery was generally good.

    For the most part, the report contained good news. Even America Online (AOL), criticized for dismal connection rates last quarter, improved dramatically from a call failure rate of 80 percent during peak periods in January to one of 35 percent in June.

    While AOL still had the worst connection rates out of the other ISPs, Jennifer Bestor, vice president of marketing for Inverse, called the improvement "pretty impressive."

    IBM boasted the best call connection rate with CompuServe slipping from first to second place. Prodigy came in third.

    Other services measured included Concentric, AT&T WorldNet, Netcom, UUNet, MSN, EarthLink, MindSpring, and MCI.

    The tests also measured email delivery for the first time, revealing that the overwhelming majority of email--91 percent-- arrived to its intended destination within five minutes, even during peak usage hours. Fewer than 0.3 percent of email messages arrive after 12 hours. (Inverse did not measure the email system of AOL and MSN, which have been plagued by complaints about slow or lost email.)

    Also, if you're considering Net access in your next cross-country move, think about this: Santa Barbara, California, residents can brag about the most reliable connections in the country, while those in Phoenix not only have to suffer through summer heat but also through the worst connectivity rates in the country.

    Overall, Netizens fared better than before. Whether this is an ongoing trend, Bestor couldn't predict. "I don't think we're willing to stretch and say it's constantly improving." But, she added, "It's no small feat to hold your own."