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How fast can the data go? - Zyxel Prestige 310 (AM406100) Router

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The speed of the cable modem is only one part of the equation. There are a combination of factors starting with how fast your PC can handle IP traffic, then how fast your PC to cable modem interface is, then how fast the cable modem system runs and how much congestion there is on the cable network, then how big a pipe there is at the head end to the rest of the Internet. Different models of PCs and Macs are able to handle IP traffic at varying speeds. Very few can handle it at 30 Mbps. Ethernet (10baseT) is the most popular cable modem interface standard for the PC. This automatically limits the speed of the connection to under 10 Mbps even if the cable modem can receive at 30 Mbps. Most Local Area Networks use 10baseT Ethernet, and although they are 10 Mbps networks, it takes a LOT longer than one second to transmit 10 megabits (or 1.25 megabytes) of data from one terminal to another. Cable modems on the same node share bandwidth, which means that congestion is created when too many people are on simultaneously. One user downloading large graphic or video files can use a significant portion of shared bandwidth, slowing down access for other users in the same neighborhood. Most independent Internet Service Providers today connect to the Internet using a single 1.5 Mbps "T1" telephone line. All of their subscribers share that 1.5 Mbps pipeline. Cable head-ends connecting to the Internet backbone using a T1 limit their subscribers to an absolute maximum of 1.5 Mbps. To create the appearance of faster network access, service companies plan to store or "cache" frequently requested web sites and Usenet newsgroups on a server at their head-end. Storing data locally will remove some of the bottleneck at the backbone connection. How fast can they go? In a perfect world (or lab) they can receive data at speeds up to 30 Mbps. In the real world, with cost conscious cable companies running the systems, the speed will probably fall to about 1.5 Mbps.

Posted on Feb 19, 2006


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