I was at a new client’s residence last week doing some work on a MacBook. Their “High Speed” network was really slow, so I conducted some bandwidth tests. The tests showed some unacceptably slow numbers (consistently around 170 kbps down), so I contacted their ISP, COMCAST. Once I got through the automated phone system to an actual voice with a pulse, I gave the individual the bandwidth test results and explained the situation. He immediately informed me that the numbers were accurate for the “High Speed” internet plan that my client was paying $29.95/month for (not to mention myriad additional fees and taxes).
For the sake of clarification and perspective, the following information is provided:
- Dial-up has a top speed of 56 kbps. 1000 kbps is equal to 1 mbps.
- Some Excerpts from Wikipedia: Broadband is often called “high-speed” Internet, because it usually has a high rate of data transmission. In general, any connection to the customer of 256 kbit/s (0.256 Mbit/s) or greater is more concisely considered broadband Internet. Broadband Internet access, often shortened to just broadband, is high data rate Internet access—typically contrasted with dial-up access over a 56k modem. Dial-up modems are limited to a bitrate of less than 56 kbit/s (kilobits per second) and require the full use of a telephone line—whereas broadband technologies supply more than double this rate and generally without disrupting telephone use. Although various minimum bandwidths have been used in definitions of broadband, ranging up from 64 kbit/s up to 1.0 Mbit/s, the 2006 OECD report is typical by defining broadband as having download data transfer rates equal to or faster than 256 kbit/s, while the United States FCC, as of 2008, defines broadband as anything above 768 kbit/s. The trend is to raise the threshold of the broadband definition as the marketplace rolls out faster services.
It would appear that there are numerous conclusions one could draw from this snipped Wikipedia info, and that ISP’s may use the somewhat vague FCC definitions to their advantage. Even though I personally consider charging a customer $30 a month for a 184kbps internet connection borders on criminal, in all fairness my client did sign up for the plan. I do take exception with plans of 184kbps being marketed as “High Speed”, as the case surely can be made that they are anything but “High Speed” (Yes COMCAST, I am talking to you).
Conclusion: Regardless of whether you understand the above technical mumbo jumbo or not, I encourage you to take the time to look over the statement from your ISP. Pay attention to what you are getting for your money and periodically check with them to see if their plans have changed. It may be worth your while to do a little cost comparison in your area as well. As technology progresses, so do internet speeds.