Please explain Bits(b), Bytes(B), and Baud.
Bits and bytes are a measurement of electronic information. A byte is always 8 bits. Communications speeds are usually measured in bits per second while many computer operations are measured in bytes per second. A "56k" modem is 56 kilobits and a "2m" DSL connection is 2 megabits per second. "128MB" of RAM is 128 megabytes. Ideally when abbreviations are used, b means bits and B means bytes. Baud rate is another measure of transmission speed and is the number of actual signals sent per second. At one time it was equal to the bits per second, but modern technology allows us to send more than one bit per electric signal.
What about Mega(M) and kilo(k)?
Traditionally kilo means one thousand exactly. In the communications world engineers call a thousand bits transmitted in a second 1 kilobit per second. Makes sense. Now while 1000 is a nice round number for humans to work with, it isn't for computers. Mathematically speaking humans use decimal or base 10 numbers and computers use binary or base 2. 1024 is 2 to the power of 10 which is a significant binary value and so is represented by kilo in the computer world. Mega is similar except it means one million and in the computer world is 1024 kilo or 1,048,576. Ideally when abbreviations are used, k means 1000 and K means 1024.
ISP Oversubscribing, how does this affect me?
The backbone of the Internet is connected networks of high capacity communication lines. A dedicated connection to the Internet backbone that operates all the time, at the full capacity of the connection technology, is extremely expensive. Since end users rarely require 100% of the available bandwidth all the time, ISPs will purchase these expensive dedicated connections and use them to run multiple connections of various sizes to their end users. This is called "over-subscribing", and is a technique used by the Internet Service Provider Industry to realize a profit margin when providing dedicated connectivity to consumer users. Over-subscription is usually based on a bandwidth ratio and typically ranges from 4:1 to 20:1 depending on the service being provided. Over-subscription may actually occur several times before it reaches the end user.
Internet providers are measured in "Tiers". A Tier 1 provider maintains their own national network and provides their customers a 1:1 bandwidth ratio. The major Tier 1 service providers are in a "peer" relationship allowing traffic from users on separate networks to communicate seamlessly. As you move down in Tier levels of providers you encounter over-subscription rates at a higher degree as the ISP's resell the bandwidth from a higher Tier. The lower tiered ISP's have to have some sort of limit in place for their non-committed or consumer dedicated product or there would be no economical way they could provide service to thousands of end users.
Some companies require a guaranteed minimum bandwidth and pay for that at a premium. For instance a 2mb/s (Megabits per second) DSL connection may cost $40 a month while a Fractional T3 with a committed bandwidth of 2mb/s will likely cost over $350 a month. While that 2mb/s DSL line is capable of operating at 2mb/s, if all the DSL users of that ISP were downloading at once everyone's connection would slow down. This is often observed with residential connections at "peak hours" like the early evening, also referred to as the "Internet rush hour".
Your ISP isn't selling you a connection to the Internet per se, they are selling you a connection to their network that is connected to the network of their provider and so on. This continues up to the top Tier 1 networks that are connected to each other. All these networks and servers and end users' computers together make up the Internet.
Can you help me with a problem with my existing connection?
Sure... Just register with our site and post your question in our forums. We normally answer within an hour and registration is free and we will never sell your information or send spam of any type!
How does my location affect the test?
Our test server is located in Georgia, United States. The more networks that the data has to cross, the more factors other than your connection will contribute to the result. Users in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America will have less accurate (often lower) results until we add servers closer to you.
How can my $50 cable connection be faster than a $800 T1?
Today's ADSL and cable connections offer users great download speeds for low prices. When these connections work well they will download faster than a T1 connection. T1's still offer some advantages including: Reliable service, Faster upstream speeds, Available in more locations.