What is Internet Access Speed?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 April 2019
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Internet access speed is a measurement of how fast data can be transferred from the Internet to a connected computer. Broadband plans are commonly advertised as guaranteeing speeds that fall within a certain range with faster plans priced higher. An exact speed cannot be guaranteed, as many factors can affect it, depending on the technology.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service is provided over standard copper telephone lines. It shares the lines with phone service, allowing both technologies to use the lines at the same time without interference. DSL is brought into a neighborhood by a DSL Access Multiplexor (DSLAM) that acts like a router for the immediate area.

Physical lines feed out from the DSLAM into the community with the length of these lines limited by signal degradation. The farther the signal has to travel from the DSLAM, the more likely to encounter latency issues affecting Internet access speed. A customer who lives close to the DSLAM and subscribes to an entry-level plan that advertises speeds of 500-768 kilobits per second (kbps), will see speeds closer to the higher end of that range than a neighbor who lives near the limit of the DSLAM’s reach.


Cable broadband provides Internet access over the same coaxial cable that brings television to the premises. Cable Internet speed does not fluctuate according to the physical location of its customers, but this technology does assign specified amounts of bandwidth to areas. If many local residents are online at the same time, supply might run short of demand, slowing access for everyone in the area. Cable plans are commonly advertised as having “speeds up to” a certain threshold, allowing for slower speeds.

While entry-level DSL plans start at an affordable 768 kbps, the slowest cable plans are typically 1.5 megabits per second (mbps). There are roughly 1,000 kilobits in 1 megabit, so 1.5 mbps is two-to-three times as fast as the slowest DSL plan and generally costs two-to-three times as much. More often than not, however, cable is not offered in tiered plans like DSL, and a customer must take whatever the local cable provider offers. This might be a much faster plan of 3.0 to 6.0 mbps, at a higher price.

DSL also offers competitive plans in the 3.0 mbps range, depending on the provider. The technology has evolved to be able to offer even faster access, up to 6.0 mbps or more, but very fast DSL is generally priced too high to be competitive in the United States. Fiber optic services offer plans with Internet access speeds up to 50 mpbs, though these extremely fast plans are typically priced quite high. Some Internet service providers that use the technologies of very fast DSL or fiber optic lines sometimes offer plans with throttled down speeds in the 3.0 mbps range to be more affordable.


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Post 4

The fastest Internet access speed I can get the Internet that I want. As a gamer I want nothing but the best. When I'm playing against my competition I accidentally get kicked off because the bad Internet connection, that's the worst thing in the world. A slow Internet connection can be just as bad, when I get killed because my controls don't react fast enough because my Internet connection is slowed down, I lose. And that's not cool.

Post 3

I don't see what the big deal is about Internet access speed and why people always want more. Even since the days of the use of dial-up modems and the old ale well I've got mail days, I've been able to get on the Internet and get exactly what I need done. When I get on the Internet I will see what the stock prices are. I also want to read my e-mail. It is these simple tasks that I do on the Internet that don't require much Internet access speed.

About the most complicated functions that I perform on the Internet and I might actually require a little bit of Internet access speed boost is the viewing of

pictures of my grandchildren. My family is so important I want be able to see the pictures in a decently fast fashion but even since the days of dial-up I've been able to do so with a decent amount of patience.
Post 2

I remember the days when Internet access speed was measured in kilobits per second instead of megabits per second. When I see cable Internet access providers actually see advertised in these high ranges I just scoff and wonder about the days when people actually knew what a dial up modem sounded like. one may sound like an old codger, I think it's important that people realize what the roots of Internet access speed really was like even 10 years ago.

A decade ago many people did not have a very good speed of Internet access. Most of the time people used the telephone lines connect, and I'm not talking about the use of digital subscriber lines offered by telephone

companies now. Instead, the signal is carried over a single voice line that used audible tones by a modem to interpret the data signal. While this may seem archaic, it was the way we did things for a very long time before high-speed Internet connectivity truly came to the market.
Post 1

When it comes to surfing the Internet, it's all about speed and your Internet access speed. The only way to determine if you have decent Internet access speed is to do Internet access speed test. You'll get the best results with high-speed cable Internet access and while high speed satellite Internet access may be a good solution if you are a rule area is not always the best way to go.

Truly it depends on what it is that you want to do with your computer and your Internet connection to determine if your speed is proper for you or not. Connection speeds in rural areas are very difficult to access and often depend greatly on how far away you are from the local network server. Depending on the network connection type your speed can vary greatly.

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