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High-speed Connection?


By Charles Miller


The first problem I needed to deal with when I arrived at a client’s location in New York City was that the speed of his internet connection seemed to be slower than I would have expected for the Big Apple. In fact, the speed did not seem to be any better than my connection speeds in Mexico. My client told me he was paying for a high-speed connection of 300 MBps (megabits per second) but I was skeptical of that figure. My testing showed the actual broadband download speed to be about 3 MBps, and because that was definitely slower than my broadband speed back in Mexico, I called his Internet Service Provider (ISP) to report that there must be a problem.

The first thing I needed to do when calling the ISP was to verify what plan my client was paying for and how much speed that was supposed to include. The person to whom I spoke looked up the address on lower Broadway and said it was a “turbo” plan for 300 MBps. I would have believed 30 MBps or even 60, but 300 just did not sound realistic to me. We scheduled a time for a service call to have things checked out.

When the technician arrived two days later, he came armed with some sophisticated instruments to test for cabling errors and this is where the problem was found. There was one unterminated cable run that was introducing some reflection errors in the wiring, and another cable connector that was suspicious. With those issues repaired, I repeated my speed tests.

The test takes several minutes and involves sending a larger file from New York to California, probably going through servers in Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, and Los Angeles to get to the destination in Berkley. The repairman stood patiently for several minutes while all this was happening. After several minutes the test finished and showed that the connection speed was now 7.9 MBps, or more than double what it had been before. But that was nowhere near the 300 MBps I had been told to expect.

When I showed those test results to the repair technician, he used the computer to pull up his favorite speed test site, which was a burst test requiring only seconds to finish. The results he proudly showed indicated the download speed was (allegedly) 312 MBps.

So why such a huge discrepancy in speed test results? I had run a test of a sustained download over several minutes to a server in California and that actual speed was 7.9 MBps. The cable company tech ran a short burst test of a few seconds transferring a small file from Lower Manhattan to a test server which was probably a few blocks away in Midtown Manhattan, so of course, that is going to be a lot faster, 312 MBps.

I did not want to pick a fight with the guy, but I really felt that his answer was disingenuous. It gave me a greater appreciation of the Mexican ISPs Telmex and Megacable for not engaging in such tactics.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at)




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