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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, February 12, 2002

You can test connection speeds online

By Burt Lum

Burt Lum: A guide to cool Net sites and Web spots

As more people jump on the broadband bandwagon, it seems the interest in bandwidth is amplified. Everyone is wondering how many kilobits per second this DSL or cable modem really pumps out.

During the days when 56k dial-up modems were the only option for general-purpose access, speed was pretty well understood. You were going to get less than 56k throughput.

Both DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable modems boast the capability of speeds in the range of 1.5 — 2 megabits per second, more than 20 times faster than a 56k modem. Undeniably the way to go to experience all the cool features of the Internet. As the satisfaction of broadband connectivity sets in and you grow accustomed to paying the cable company or phone company an additional $50 per month for Internet, you begin to wonder: How much juice am I really getting?

There are many Web sites that will test the speed of your throughput, but for a comprehensive site go to testmyspeed.com. From here you can test your connection speeds from various sites.

For example, from TestMySpeed, I connected to promos.mcafee.com/speedometer. This speedometer test will return a download speed between the Mcafee site and your computer, whatever kind of connection you have. For my cable modem test, I got a download speed of 657Kbps.

You also can try out dslreports.com/stest. This test showed a download speed of 1100Kbps, uploads at 31Kbps.

Given all the different numbers, there are a couple of important considerations to keep in mind. First off, home cable modem and DSL connections are asymmetric services: The download speed is faster than the upload speed. Secondly, both services are shared: as more people transmit data, overall performance will decrease.

Also keep in mind that advertised bandwidth rates assume ideal conditions. The line speed of your DSL circuit as advertised by the phone company applies to the wire between your computer and the central office. Stay informed and don't get swept away by the hype. ;-)

Reach Burt Lum at burt@brouhaha.net.