Can a dial-up connection really be as fast as cable/dsl?

I keep seeing commercials for NetZero’s new and improved “3g” dial-up service. They claim it’s just as fast as “broadband”. Is that true? Can any dial-up service even approach cable or dsl speeds? Doesn’t make sense to me.

It can’t. The bandwidth of a dial up phone line is insufficient. They use a combination of caching and compression techniques to get some apparent speed increases but at best you’ll get the claimed speed increase at times certainly not overall.

There’s usually a disclaimer that notes that download speeds are not affected.

So, if you have dial-up, I’d pass on the iTunes store, unless you have a lot of spare time.

According to the specs, most 3G networks are capable of data throughput up to a maximum of 384Kbps (actually 307 for the version used in the States, I believe), which is at the lower end of the range that cabled broadband networks are marketed at (generally 256Kbps and upwards). So yes, 3G is capable of “broadband” speeds, at least in theory. Actual data rates hit about 130Kbps, according to a random page wot I found. Oh, and the latency (loosely speaking, the time it takes for downloads to start, as opposed to how fast they go once they’ve started) is likely to be longer.

Also (and this is a bit nitpicky), whether it’s technically “dialup” is another question, since 3G doesn’t work over a connection-switched network, but is a packet-switched technology (i.e. your device is always connected; it merely needs to send a packet of data to initiate comms, and doesn’t need to make a phonecall before it starts sending data). A 3G connection is substantially different to your old bingelytscchhhhhhhbeepkkrrrrrrkkkk modem; speaking incredibly loosely, it’s more like a very long-distance version of Wi-Fi. If it were sending data over its voice connections, then the data rates would indeed be limited to the same sort of rates as normal dialup.

But in short, yes, your 3G wireless connection can technically transfer data as fast as some lesser DSL/cable offerings, but since most people take “broadband” to mean 512Kbps+, it’s a bit of a misleading claim.

Just a note netzero’s 3g has nothing to do with 3rd generation cell phone technology.

So while Dead badgers info is interesting it has nothing to do with netzero.

This Link explains it. Scroll down to the bottom. Basically Data Compression and Image Optimization is what is being performed. The raw speed as noted in previous post hasn’t changed.


Note that many of these “bandwidth boosters” degrade image quality. Obviously it won’t take as long to transfer a degraded image.

Also, compression doesn’t work on file types that are already compressed, such as MPEG-3, JPEG, etc.