It’s mid-2016 and the world uses computers and the internet for almost every daily task imaginable. So why is it, after all the progress we’ve made, we still settle for slow service and irregular outages? Looking at the most popular options, Broadband and DSL, they are vastly different in their delivery and also the pros/cons to each service but neither has solved the delivery issues completely.
Remember dial up service where you used to plug into the actual phone jack for service? Well we’ve moved far beyond that but still aren’t fluid. Dial up is like a traffic jam with cars waiting to get into a single line. Newer service allows the use of dedicated lines (copper or fiber) to get traffic moving quicker.
DSL Broadband (Digital Line Subscriber): Brings internet service by transmitting digital communication over standard telephone phones. Since DSL shares the frequencies with voice communication (voice use low frequency and internet uses high frequency) the ability to share large quantities of data are slower. And since DSL signals have a limited range, (you must be with a specific range of your ISP). Some rural areas don’t have access to this service option.
Cable Broadband: Brings internet service to users via fiber-optic materials that are capable of sending data at very fast speeds and more of it at a time. Broadband has a wide band of frequencies available to transmit communication and that large number of band frequencies means more info can be transmitted in a given time. Think multi-lane highway = more cars all moving at once.
Satellite: This service provided uses a stationary satellite, ground gateways and a small dish for every user. Service provided via satellite offer high upload and download speeds without the hindrance of heavy traffic. While you may not be hindered by as much road traffic, satellite service can be effected by weather and other natural issues.
In an effort to speed the DSL service and compete with cable, some providers have moved to a process called fiber-to-node. This set up uses the existing copper cable already run to your neighborhood box and then a dedicated fiber cable for the last stretch to your home.
Six factors that cause slow service and how to address them:
- Capabilities: Older devices such as computers and routers may require additional memory to run faster or are just outdated and may need to be replaced. Hard reboots are a good indicator that your equipment is dated. If you value your time investing in new hardware may be worth it.
- Obstructions: Mobile technology, BYOD and common wireless work environments have placed a greater need for reliable workplace WIFI usage. Walls, metal cabinets and even glass can interfere with transmission. Sometimes just moving your modem/router can increase speeds significantly as will hardwiring whenever possible.
- Bottlenecks: Traffic at a website may overload the server. Peak hours tend to slow the internet just like traffic on the highway so you may need to recognize that it’s the provider and not the internet service.
- Background: Unnecessary software and viruses running can slow up your system. Run a system check and shut down what you don’t need.
- Software: Out of date software or the need for operating system patches. Keeping software up to date not only speeds up the internet but also increases your computer network security.
- Bandwidth: Sharing your internet connection with other users will slow your service. Now-a-days everyone has a phone, computers, tablets and even smart watches that use data, see if you can limit the number of devices online at the same time for better speeds. Additionally know that often cable and DSL providers will oversubscribe their service so that during peak hours everyone ends up with slow service.