Broadband Modem Bottleneck?

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dogtanian's picture
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Broadband Modem Bottleneck?

I have a question.

I have a G3 Imac and a broadband service providing 4.8Mb/sec which I am currently connecting to using a USB modem.

As the Imac has USB 1.1 which equates to 1.5Mb/sec, is this creating a bottleneck reducing my connection rate by 3.3Mb/sec?

I have ordered a replacement broadband modem which connects via ethernet. Will I notice any difference in speed compared to USB seeing as ethernet is faster?

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Not a significant difference

Not a significant difference in speed, no. The download speeds that ISPs advertise are peak speeds under optimal conditions. I have a 7Mb link at home, and have never seen anything come down that fast.

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I think you got you "MB" and "Mb" screwed up

MB= MegaBytes, Mb=Megabits

12Mbps = ~1.9-1.2MB/s, 4Mbps = ~.3-.4MB/s

So, the bottle neck might either be that fact of :
the ISP is slow enough to notice a siginificant performance hit
or
The Computer is not fast enough to process everything AND the data from the USB Port (USB takes processor time, whereas the Ethernet and FireWire have their own chipset to process the data)

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Thank You

Thank you. That clears things up.

Much Appreciated.

Dogtanian

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If you want speed, and it's available ...

DSL is better than Cable. The only people who say otherwise don't know what they're talking about. And better than DSL is Fibre, which is only in limited markets at the moment.

Needless to say, I'm bitter about the fact that DSL isn't available where I live now. The Cable company has a monopoly on broadband in my neighborhood, so customer service, as well as reliability of service are nonexistant.

I'm waiting for Verizon to bring FiOS to my area (they say it should be available by summer 07). When it's available, the cable company and that POS cable modem are gone.

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Re: If you want speed, and it's available ...

DSL is better than Cable. The only people who say otherwise don't know what they're talking about.

Your proof, please?

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I'm going to back him up...

Cable Companies in the USA have a terrible habit of practicing monopoliptic tactics. Once they get what they want, they continue to hike up the price of the services more and more since they know you can't go anywhere else.

We got Cox Cable here in Omaha. Terrible company to deal with, and they have a LOT of outages and never seem to respond in a reasonable manor to fix it. Qwest DSL is available, but not in the downtown (Where I am at) and is pretty much only in the small towns on the outskirts of Omaha.
I have friends that have cable providers in other states that are sick of it. Not to mention only that, but they don't open ANY ports, and will shut you down even if you just have file sharing on (try to get FTP to work, and if they notice ANY incoming connections, they pretty much will pull you off the service)

I think Service is what the problem is. Not the speed.
I got 7Mbps, soon to be approaching 10. but I would rather have DSL than cable, it's cheaper, and less of a headache to deal with...

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Re: If you want speed, and it's available ...

DSL is better than Cable. The only people who say otherwise don't know what they're talking about.

Your proof, please?

From 2002-2003, I worked a lowly support job within America Online working in their broadband department. The old AOL Broadband was an product, available via cable modem or DSL, worked on Windows only, and required you to log in via the AOL client software (an OS X client was in beta but never got past that stage).

In that time, I worked with various cable and telephone companies, in that I learned a lot. Below I will list why DSL is superior to cable.

1. Dedication - The DSL connection is a dedicated line, while cable is a shared service. As such, as the service becomes more popular in a region, performance of cable will degrade dramatically. Because DSL is dedicated, this issue does not occur.

2. Customer Service/ Knowledgeable employees - Cable field techs and their customer service reps know absolutely nothing about the service or what they are doing. (there are some exceptions, but finding someone within a cable company with a clue is rare) I've seen and dealt with field techs who insisted that because tv service was impacted when the cable modem was in use that the software on the computer being used with the cable modem was to blame.

3. Troubleshooting - DSL is very very straightforward to troubleshoot. If you have an issue where you don't have a solid online/ready light, disconnect all devices from the phone jacks in your house, check the filters. 90% of the time, this resolves DSL connectivity issues. If not, you can call your DSL provider and ask for a line test. Generally, they will know what's going on and why within minutes. With the cable modem, if you lose that online or internet light and power cycling doesn't help, you're going to have to call them and you will be given nothing but hassle.

4. Networking - Most DSL providers actually encourage sharing your connection, as evidenced by Verizon giving users the option of a dsl modem with a built in 4 port ethernet/wifi router. Most cable companies will want to charge you an additional $10 or more to use more than one computer with it, or you have to be sneaky.

5. Actual Bandwidth - DSL is, for the most part, dramatically cheaper. Verizon in my region charges $30 a month for their DSL service (including the modem/router) at 3.0 down/768k up. My cable company charges $60 a month for a "6.0 Mbps cable modem service" that runs at a quarter of the speed that I actually saw with the DSL modem.

6. Reliability - Unless you have internal wiring issues in your home, or live in an area where there is still a good deal of construction going on (in which case there will connection issues no matter what), DSL will have a dramatically better reliability rate than a cable modem. My cable modem craps out at least 3 times a week, while the DSL service went for over a year with no outages. Every cable modem I have come across has issues with maintaining a connection.

I could also go on my rant about why satellite is better than cable, but I'll spare you. Frankly, when Comcast, Time Warner/Brighthouse (they are the same company, but the different name is only to avoid antitrust issues), tci, and all the other cable providers are forced to compete with other providers (when FiOS is more widespread, satellite/dsl more accessable), those rate increases, reliability issues, and poor customer service practices will be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, it will be a while before these cable companies finally get their act together.

Cable modems, like the tv service they are often bundled with, are crap. If it weren't for being out of loop length, and the fact that there are too many trees in my yard blocking the line of sight for a satellite, I'd be a happier man. I love my house, will love it more when FiOS comes to town.

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Re: If you want speed, and it's available ...

DSL is better than Cable. The only people who say otherwise don't know what they're talking about.

Your proof, please?

1. Dedication - The DSL connection is a dedicated line, while cable is a shared service. As such, as the service becomes more popular in a region, performance of cable will degrade dramatically. Because DSL is dedicated, this issue does not occur.

Valid point. It's also worth noting you may get better connection speeds with cable during offpeak times. Also, your position on the DSL loop determines how much speed you actually get, cable speed doesn't degrade dramatically as you move farther away from the hub.


2. Customer Service/ Knowledgeable employees - Cable field techs and their customer service reps know absolutely nothing about the service or what they are doing. (there are some exceptions, but finding someone within a cable company with a clue is rare) I've seen and dealt with field techs who insisted that because tv service was impacted when the cable modem was in use that the software on the computer being used with the cable modem was to blame.

This is company specific. Some techs everywhere are clueless. Most of the clueless ones are convinced that they're brilliant. Some are truly great. In any case, assuming that all cable techs are idiots and all DSL techs are prodegies it still doesn't impact which is better.


3. Troubleshooting - DSL is very very straightforward to troubleshoot. If you have an issue where you don't have a solid online/ready light, disconnect all devices from the phone jacks in your house, check the filters. 90% of the time, this resolves DSL connectivity issues. If not, you can call your DSL provider and ask for a line test. Generally, they will know what's going on and why within minutes. With the cable modem, if you lose that online or internet light and power cycling doesn't help, you're going to have to call them and you will be given nothing but hassle.

So, if your DSL goes down, you run around your house and check a few things and then call and get the line tested. If your cable goes down, you unplug a thing or two and then call and get your line tested. You are more familiar with the troubleshooting steps for DSL, which is probably a good reason for you to get DSL, but it doesn't impact anyone else.


4. Networking - Most DSL providers actually encourage sharing your connection, as evidenced by Verizon giving users the option of a dsl modem with a built in 4 port ethernet/wifi router. Most cable companies will want to charge you an additional $10 or more to use more than one computer with it, or you have to be sneaky.

Company specific. You can get cable modems with built in routers too. And there are many DSL providers who don't provide a modem with router.


5. Actual Bandwidth - DSL is, for the most part, dramatically cheaper. Verizon in my region charges $30 a month for their DSL service (including the modem/router) at 3.0 down/768k up. My cable company charges $60 a month for a "6.0 Mbps cable modem service" that runs at a quarter of the speed that I actually saw with the DSL modem.

I'm assuming you can't get DSL in your region since you're pro-DSL but on a cable modem. I'm not sure how you're comparing speeds between a modem you have and a modem you can't get. The one that's not available seems slower to me.

Again, the point about high speed variances on DSL lines is worth nothing here.


6. Reliability - Unless you have internal wiring issues in your home, or live in an area where there is still a good deal of construction going on (in which case there will connection issues no matter what), DSL will have a dramatically better reliability rate than a cable modem. My cable modem craps out at least 3 times a week, while the DSL service went for over a year with no outages. Every cable modem I have come across has issues with maintaining a connection.

Circumstantial evidence. If we're using these types of arguments, I had a cable connection of mine work for the entire time I was using it, while my parents DSL goes down once every month or two.

Your point about it being a constant speed is valid. The rest is company specific, bad arguments, and has nothing to do with the technological merit of the technology.

Edit: I should mention I don't really care overly about which type of connection I have so long as it works and is fast. I'm simply being argumentative because I don't believe most of your arguments hold any water.

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My arguments are based on experiences ...

with the bulk of DSL and cable providers throughout the United States. While there was the occasional bumbling idiot at a phone company, I found that there was a higher level of competence among the folks working for the various telco's than with the cable providers.

As for performance benchmarks, we had both our old place and the house set up for a little bit. I was able to run some basic benchmarks, with the dsl modem's actual performance being twice what the cable modem provided.

As for personal experience, outside of my professional line of work, I've found that customer service, reliability, etc. has been less than stellar from Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Adelphia, and Comcast, while the service I've received from both BellSouth and Verizon has been nothing short of phenomenal. (I lived in Florida for a fair number of years before moving to Pennsylvania) For some reason, the telco folks don't act like they are god's gift to tech support. The telcos tend to be a bit pickier about who they hire than the cable companies as well.

I like reliability, stability, getting the performance that is advertised, and having someone helpful answer the phone. That's why I consider DSL to be superior over Cable. The Cable companies suck, and the technology isn't capable of providing the bandwidth that they promise.

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Now I'm curious. Does anyone

Now I'm curious. Does anyone have any actual technical benchmarks or information regarding why cable or DSL is superior? I can definitely see DSL being able to provide better consistant quality provided you were positioned correctly.

I don't have any experience with US cable/DSL companies as a consumer (though I pulled a short stint at an American cable companies Canadian call center*) so I can't really argue the point anymore. Personal-experience wise, I've usually gotten better performance out of cable, and the big DSL providers up here (Telus, I'm looking at you) tend to be evil in portblocking and bandwidth caps.

* "Short stint at an American cable companies Canadian call center" - Try saying that three times fast, eh?

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Re: If you want speed, and it's available ...

1. Dedication - The DSL connection is a dedicated line, while cable is a shared service. As such, as the service becomes more popular in a region, performance of cable will degrade dramatically. Because DSL is dedicated, this issue does not occur.

True, DSL is a dedicated line. However, it's run over analog copper for long distances -- telephone lines. And those telephone lines, unless you live in a relatively new suburb, are likely rather old. Since cable TV technology as a whole is only about 25 years old, the copper (and fiber) in your neighborhood is much newer. Furthermore, because of the way cable TV works, there are more repeaters and signal amplifiers along the path, while voice lines go for miles. And BDub's note about distance from your home to the nearest substation affecting DSL speed (and reliability) is very valid.

2. Customer Service/ Knowledgeable employees - Cable field techs and their customer service reps know absolutely nothing about the service or what they are doing...

The same can go for the phone company. When my parents had DSL installed, the phone company tech that was sent out didn't even know how to wire a Cat5 cable to industry standard...and he deals with 4- and 25-pair cabling every day.

3. Troubleshooting - DSL is very very straightforward to troubleshoot.

So is cable, and you don't even have line filters to worry about. When my cable connection goes down (which is pretty rare), if I power-cycle the modem and still don't have link, I know it's something on the cable company's end. This again ties into how much more robust coax cabling and topology is than analog voice. And as to calling your ISP's tech support, both cable and phone companies can have idiot call center employees -- you can't make a blanket statement like "phone company techs know what they're doing and cable company techs don't."

4. Networking - Most DSL providers actually encourage sharing your connection, as evidenced by Verizon giving users the option of a dsl modem with a built in 4 port ethernet/wifi router. Most cable companies will want to charge you an additional $10 or more to use more than one computer with it, or you have to be sneaky.

This is something you will absolutely have to give me hard evidence on for me to believe. I have never run across an ISP, whether dialup, DSL or cable, that encourages connection sharing. Granted, they can't do jack if you share it anyway, but none I've dealt with will provide help with router-related problems.

And as to the "extra $10 per computer" fee, that's for additional static IP addresses. DSL companies have similar fees. Behind a router, neither the phone company nor the cable company can tell how many computers you have your connection shared to.

5. Actual Bandwidth - DSL is, for the most part, dramatically cheaper. Verizon in my region charges $30 a month for their DSL service (including the modem/router) at 3.0 down/768k up. My cable company charges $60 a month for a "6.0 Mbps cable modem service" that runs at a quarter of the speed that I actually saw with the DSL modem.

DSL is cheaper because they offer different tiers of speed. Verizon may be 3Mbit at $30, sure, but Comcast charges me $53.28 per month, with taxes, for 7Mbit -- and that includes basic analog TV service too. The high-speed package in its own goes for $42.95. Doing the math, Verizon is $10/Mbit, while Comcast is about $6.14/Mbit (or $7.61/Mbit if you want to go by my $53.28/month bill).

As for the "my cable connection ran at a quarter of my DSL speed" I have this to offer: Comcast markets high-speed access in my area as being 7Mbit, and a test at http://www.bandwidthplace.com/speedtest/ reports my connection as 4.9Mbit, at 9:45pm (which is still inside peak hours). Doing the math on 4.9Mbit, I'm paying $8.77/Mbit (or $10.83/Mbit with analog TV and taxes).

6. Reliability - Unless you have internal wiring issues in your home, or live in an area where there is still a good deal of construction going on (in which case there will connection issues no matter what), DSL will have a dramatically better reliability rate than a cable modem. My cable modem craps out at least 3 times a week, while the DSL service went for over a year with no outages. Every cable modem I have come across has issues with maintaining a connection.

See my post above about telephone vs cable infrastructure. Also keep in mind that if your cable modem "craps out at least 3 times a week," it's likely you just have a bad modem. I had a D-Link cable modem that would die if I had a sustained upload going; it wasn't Comcast's fault. I bought a Linksys cable modem and haven't had to power-cycle it in a year.

Frankly, I don't care if you want to continue believing that DSL is superior, and I don't want to get into a useless Internet flamewar. And yes, cable high-speed can suck in some areas, and DSL can be superior in others. However, you just can't make the blanket statements of fact that you did when a lot of the "proof" you offered is simply personal opinion.

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ive actually been pretty happ

ive actually been pretty happy with cable. ive got brighthouse here in central florida. im also running a web/ssh/ftp server, and they havent done anything yet. maybe im an unusual case tho.

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cox cable

So,
I pay for and regularly use my 15mb down/2 up connection to about 900% of its rated max. (Bittorrent after a new BSG or Torchwood/Doctor Who comes out)
It almost always tests as 13/1.5 and will deliver.
Verizon is 3/768 or 1.5/512 around here.

Typical phone call to cox: 30 second hold time, 2 minute diagnosis. If encountering a "Special person" hang up and ask for a supervisor

Verizon. 10-15 minutes hold time and the vast majority I've spoken to in my function as computer consultant are either not native english speakers or are from the south (same communication difficulties, the indian techs are usually a little more gifted upstairs)

The vast majority of my experiences with verizon have been like this guy's

http://verizonmath.blogspot.com/2006/12/transcription-jt.html

Plus, verizon's stuff requires usernames and passwords, cox is just plug and go, and no worries about a modem/router that Verizon doesn't supply passwords to.

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Cat5e, 1Gbps, fiber, and beyond

Ah, the myth of "highspeed." Fiber in Singapore is fine except for the fine, where one can even be fined for sharing a wireless connection. DSL? Cable? We don't need them. And, besides their accessibility and speed is "governed" by how much you are not willing to pay.

We live in "free" countries. I haven't paid for a subscription to an internet service provider in many years. Why would you? Instead of paying the Enrons of the worldcom, I would rather put my subscription money into our community's own infrastructure which belongs to us. Twelve months of cable/phone/internet subscriptions from people in the community buys a lot of network hardware.

This is AppleFritter. Let's start building our own.

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Haha

I live in rural Indiana, and this constituses about 20% of the service calls i get. EIther Verizon or Time Warners BS. You knwo wich company i get calls about the most? Verizon. where i live, versizon is so over crowded, you get the worst service possible. And ever time ive ever called verizon, wheher it be for phone or DSL service, I *always* get a "special person". My self? Im on dial-up vecause no highspeed ISP will cover my area. ANd ya knwo what> every time i call verizon about DSL, its 6 months , 6 more months. On a total ive called them ever 6 months since My neighbors on the next street over have it, and i dont. and thats since 2001. I will probobly never get DSL or cable, But here Time Warner is definitaly the best Highspeed ISP. ive been called maybe once for problems with them, and it was a dead modem.

Just my $0.02

//wthww

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I'm going to have to say veri

I'm going to have to say verizon, time warner and comcast are the absolute worst. I have time warner road runner at my apartment now which is pretty slow, but service is decent and its free to get someone out to you. We have optimum online at my parents house, and it is one of the best I've used. We consistently get higher speeds than my friends in the area with Verizon dsl. On the other hand some of my friends and my girlfriend now have Verizon FiOS and FIOS TV, which are very fast and is much better than the comcast service in their area. I think it all really depends on the area you live in, quality of the lines in your home, and the actual modem you have. Time warner gave us the absolute worst tiny cable modems, while optimum gave us a brand new VOIP motorola modem.

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