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Most important factors for a good connection

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Hi all! I'm somewhat new to the whole connection quality game and I've enjoyed reading some of the topics on this forum. It's been reassuring to confirm some of my suspicions about the pitfalls of other speed tests out there - especially the inherent flaw in testing my connection quality to a server that's right up the road from me.

I'm hoping someone can answer more of a big picture question for me, though. Exactly what factors determine the overall quality of your connection, and which are the most important? For simplicity's sake, let's ignore all the host-based complications (most of which are rendered irrelevant from the speed test on this site, from my understanding).

The only factor I'm really aware of is the tier of service you purchase from your ISP - though does that even make a big difference when it comes to regular web surfing and streaming videos? Another factor I've always been curious about is the subscriber density of your geographic area. If you live in a city or a big apartment building with lots of subscribers connected will that cause your individual connection to run into more conflicts than if you lived in the suburbs or the country?

I've tried Googling to get some answers to these questions but I can't seem to find the right keywords, and you all seem like experts on the matter. Thanks a lot!

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Hi all! I'm somewhat new to the whole connection quality game and I've enjoyed reading some of the topics on this forum. It's been reassuring to confirm some of my suspicions about the pitfalls of other speed tests out there - especially the inherent flaw in testing my connection quality to a server that's right up the road from me.

I'm hoping someone can answer more of a big picture question for me, though. Exactly what factors determine the overall quality of your connection, and which are the most important? For simplicity's sake, let's ignore all the host-based complications (most of which are rendered irrelevant from the speed test on this site, from my understanding).

The only factor I'm really aware of is the tier of service you purchase from your ISP - though does that even make a big difference when it comes to regular web surfing and streaming videos? Another factor I've always been curious about is the subscriber density of your geographic area. If you live in a city or a big apartment building with lots of subscribers connected will that cause your individual connection to run into more conflicts than if you lived in the suburbs or the country?

I've tried Googling to get some answers to these questions but I can't seem to find the right keywords, and you all seem like experts on the matter. Thanks a lot!

Welcome! Okay, that's allot of questions. :-D Let me answer one and I'm hoping other members will help me with the others.

Another factor I've always been curious about is the subscriber density of your geographic area. If you live in a city or a big apartment building with lots of subscribers connected will that cause your individual connection to run into more conflicts than if you lived in the suburbs or the country?

It depends on the type of provider. DSL is typically not effected by your neighbors... but Cable Internet usually is. It looks like you're on cable, so you may feel it during the internet rush hours in your area. Many cable providers compensate for this by giving their customers more bandwidth than you would typically get from a DSL provider.

As for location... you almost always want to be closer to the heart of a city for the best bandwidth. But with Cable Internet you actually may see improved speeds the further out you go, because less people are on your node. ... although, it really comes down to the cable system that you're on. Where do you live?

- Damon

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Hi all! I'm somewhat new to the whole connection quality game and I've enjoyed reading some of the topics on this forum. It's been reassuring to confirm some of my suspicions about the pitfalls of other speed tests out there - especially the inherent flaw in testing my connection quality to a server that's right up the road from me.

I'm hoping someone can answer more of a big picture question for me, though. Exactly what factors determine the overall quality of your connection, and which are the most important? For simplicity's sake, let's ignore all the host-based complications (most of which are rendered irrelevant from the speed test on this site, from my understanding).

The only factor I'm really aware of is the tier of service you purchase from your ISP - though does that even make a big difference when it comes to regular web surfing and streaming videos? Another factor I've always been curious about is the subscriber density of your geographic area. If you live in a city or a big apartment building with lots of subscribers connected will that cause your individual connection to run into more conflicts than if you lived in the suburbs or the country?

I've tried Googling to get some answers to these questions but I can't seem to find the right keywords, and you all seem like experts on the matter. Thanks a lot!

also, speeds can be affected by local hardware before the request even reaches the modem, such as wifi in heavily saturated areas will see poor performance

and yes tier of service will make a big difference depending on what your trying to do with your connection, for instance say my brother wants to watch netflix on his xbox and it decides it wants to stream in HD he will be downloading a 1-2GB file from the netflix server at 1.5MB/s or 1536kB/s if my connection is only a 15Mbit connection his one stream will be reaching the max capacity of my available bandwidth which means there won't be much left over to say browse the web or upload a file to a FTP server

~ TriRan

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That all makes sense. I currently live in DC, and I'm a fair ways out from the center of the city but still in a very dense residential area - lots of tall apartment buildings.

Is the distance from city center factor because people generally work downtown during the day so there's usually bandwidth available at night when people aren't at work? Or is it just because there tends to be more backbone infrastructure downtown?

Also - does that factor even make a noticeable difference in speeds? Would I receive notably better service on my laptop if I took it to my friend's place downtown who has the same tier of service from the same ISP?

Sorry if these are hard questions - I've just never heard of this particular factor before. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity. :smile2:

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That all makes sense. I currently live in DC, and I'm a fair ways out from the center of the city but still in a very dense residential area - lots of tall apartment buildings.

Is the distance from city center factor because people generally work downtown during the day so there's usually bandwidth available at night when people aren't at work? Or is it just because there tends to be more backbone infrastructure downtown?

Also - does that factor even make a noticeable difference in speeds? Would I receive notably better service on my laptop if I took it to my friend's place downtown who has the same tier of service from the same ISP?

Sorry if these are hard questions - I've just never heard of this particular factor before. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity. :smile2:

not necessarily hard questions to answer, its just hard to be 100% certain because we don't run these companies and we don't know exactly how many nodes they have where for how many clients... the reason you will feel slower speeds during the day is because yes there is a ton more traffic on every node, traffic is heaviest at peak hours usually from around 3-4PM in the afternoon till around 10-12PM at night usually after those times you will be experiencing the least congestion for the day on just about any given node so in short you may not notice any difference if you went downtown where the infrastructure is more developed but most certainly just as saturated

it all depends on how many clients are on doing what with the bandwidth they are allotted... we've gotten into some interesting discussions here before but its not only the amount of clients online but also weather that can effect internet performance

CA3LE or some others can shed more light on that because i don't really have any experience with those types of things

~ TriRan

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IMHO, I think to many just assume cable internet is faster. I think its just been so oversold, Its almost pointless. In my area. Cable internet is a joke. A very expensive joke. I fought them for about a year. In the end. I think they just oversold it. Lord knows I tried. They tried to. At times it was just soooooo slow. So I went dsl and never went back. My speeds are SO much better, Its cheaper, way more reliable. So again IMHO, If you have fought with your cable company, Turned your computer inside out making sure it was ok. Your connections are fine. Consider Dsl. Just a thought.

I guess the best way to describe it. At one time, You could get on the autobahn and push your car as fast as you wanted to go. So many found out about it, So many had to try it, I hear its not as easy to do anymore. To many people trying to go fast, Not enough road to handle the demand.

Edited by ninjageek

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IMHO, I think to many just assume cable internet is faster. I think its just been so oversold, Its almost pointless. In my area. Cable internet is a joke. A very expensive joke. I fought them for about a year. In the end. I think they just oversold it. Lord knows I tried. They tried to. At times it was just soooooo slow. So I went dsl and never went back. My speeds are SO much better, Its cheaper, way more reliable.

I'm not particularly dissatisfied with my cable service, but I often heard of people saying that the speeds are comparable in my area, in which case the cable customers are definitely being taken for a ride. Has this actually been documented anywhere? It would seem like it would be a pretty big deal if someone could show that cable customers are getting ripped off.

Again, I've tried looking for more academic work on this subject but haven't really found anything, so I appreciate your guys' intuition and expertise.

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I'm not particularly dissatisfied with my cable service, but I often heard of people saying that the speeds are comparable in my area, in which case the cable customers are definitely being taken for a ride. Has this actually been documented anywhere? It would seem like it would be a pretty big deal if someone could show that cable customers are getting ripped off.

Again, I've tried looking for more academic work on this subject but haven't really found anything, so I appreciate your guys' intuition and expertise.

there is no way to really stick it to the cable company because they say they only guarantee the speeds within their network

but we all know the internet is everywhere not just on a cable companies given local network thus you don't always see your advertised speeds everywhere

~ TriRan

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