Confused about Cable Internet connection speeds ect.

I just upgraded last week from a dial up connection on AOL to a SuScom. cable connection. I’ve run about 20 online Internet speed tests from various providers and they put my download speed at anywhere from 4.2 to around 7.5 million bytes per second (with the higher speeds coming during the night). However, my upload speeds are only about 250 thousand bytes per second. Why the huge difference and doesn’t this pose a problem for use with online gaming? Also, my friends in the city say their cable connections (tested on the same free services) very between .5 and 2 megabytes per second. I would think that the “city cable” would be better (it sure was with my old dial up service).

Also, one of the websites ( indicates that I could get up to 32 million bytes per second with a T-3 connection. What would the upload speed be with such a connection? Would this be the way to go for premium online gaming? I have a buddy from college who lives in Saudi Arabia and he says that T-3 is the only way to go with certain games like Half Life (then again he lives in a house/castle that would go for about twenty million here).

Your download speed and upload speeds seem reasonable for a cable connection. As far as living in the city or not living in the city, it only depends how many people are on the same network at that particular time. In cities speeds are usually slower because there are so many people using it at one time. In less populated areas the speeds are usually closer to the advertisted speed.
Even a “slow” cable connection is fine for online gaming. Since a T-3 costs several thousands a month, I’m sure you won’t be going with that anytime soon :slight_smile:

One more thing to add. Dial-up service and DSL operate over telephone lines. The closer you are to a swtiching station the better the connection, and higher the speed. In cities there are more switching stations. In less populated there are fewer which means slower speeds or no availibility of service at all. It’s kinda the opposite of cable, although there are a lot of factors involved.

a T-3 has the same upload and download speeds, as does DSL. Cable has slower upload speeds because it is mainly a broadcast medium.

A couple grand per month would probably bust the gaming budget for sure! As for DSL wouldn’t the fact that its upload and download speeds are equivalent make it preferable for gaming even if the overall speed were much slower? For example I would think that 500K up/ down would be quite a bit better than 5MB down, but only 200K up since gaming involves a “two way” flow of information.

Have you actually tried playing any of these games yet? As stated before, those are pretty typical speeds and I haven’t seen any gamers with cable connections selling their houses to afford a T3. I don’t play online games all that much but I have never had a problem with this issue before. The games don’t transmit every bit of information pixel by pixel from your screen to theirs and back. The information flow is designed to be as efficient as possible so that only the necessary information needs to be transmitted back and forth.

Most home internet connections work that way - cable, asynchronous DSL, and satellite. Even 56K modems are slower at uploading than downloading. To get the same upload and download speed, you need a 33.6 modem (or slower), ISDN, synchronous DSL, or a business-oriented connection like a T1.

This is because most home users download a lot more than they upload, so since there’s only a fixed amount of bandwidth on that cable, it’s best to dedicate most of it to downloading. You usually won’t notice the difference unless you’re sending large email attachments, running a web/ftp server, or hosting a game with a lot of players.

Each area with cable service only has a certain amount of bandwidth to go around. If there are only 2 users on your rural segment, you can each theoretically use half of the total bandwidth (but usually, the cable company limits your bandwidth even further). In the city, there are more users on each segment.

I think you’re confusing bits with bytes, though. With my Comcast cable modem, I can download at 3 Mbps - that’s megabits per second. 2 megabytes per second would be 16 Mbps. If you’re getting 7.5 million bytes per second, that’s 60 Mbps, but I suspect you really mean 7.5 Mbps (and 256 Kbps upstream). A T1 is 1.54 Mbps, and a T3 is 45 Mbps.

It’d be better for hosting, but not for playing. I doubt any game really needs 200 Kbps upstream unless you’re running the server.

Latency (lag), the amount of time it takes for data to get from your computer to its destination, is usually the most important measure for gaming. Satellite connections are terrible for gaming, even though they have a lot of bandwidth, because the latency can be 400-1000 ms. With a dialup modem, it’s more like 100 ms (compression and error correction takes time), and with cable or DSL, it can be under 50 ms.

Imagine a bucket brigade passing water from a well to a burning building - bandwidth is the size of the buckets, and latency is the number of people in line. Games are designed not to use much water, but reaction time is key, so the most important thing is having the shortest distance possible between the well and the building.

Not unless you pay more for it, and some ISPs may not offer SDSL packages. ADSL (the A stands for asymmetric) is the most common type of DSL connection, and basic speeds are usually in the 1500k down/384k up range. ISPs usually emphasize downstream bandwidth for consumer lines because most users consume content. It’s not until one goes into the realm of content serving that increased upstream bandwidth becomes important.

In Half Life 2, you can enter the console command “net_graph 3” to provide infomation on your ping, packetloss, and the amount of bandwidth you are using in a corner of the screen while you play. In my experience, HL2 and CS:Source use 5-7 kilobytes/second of bandwidth, which is pretty trival compared to the amount any cable connection provides. Moving up to a T3 would provide no difference in gameplay for a single person; though it would be very useful for a server.

I beg to differ. My local DSL provider ( whose building is not even 2,000 feet from where I currently sit ) informs me in no uncertain terms that the limit on upload is 125, the limit on download is 1 meg. ( you can pay for slower DL, but not for faster UL ).

My son is a rabid gamer, and this issue is a real one. I can’t even send an Email with any kind of speed when he’s gaming. I am changing to Optimum Online in the next few days. Despite the pain in the touchas with switching email addresses, I believe the Cable upload will = in my area = be faster.

<< Minor hijack>> Anyone here do a package with cable, Internet and phone-over-cable? How is the sound quality and service with that kind of phone ? <</Minor hijack>>


DSL is now kind of an umbrella term - Digital Subscriber Line. Cartooniverse, you have ADSL, where the A means Asynchronous. However, there is also SDSL - Synchronous DSL, where the U/D spees are the same.

And your ISP’s upload limit? Completely arbitrary. There is nothing hardware wise that limits the up/down speed - it’s all in the provisioning of your port card (sometimes in the router) - they are deliberately throttling your upstream bandwidth. I would dump them ASAP (as it looks like you are :slight_smile: ).

As for Phone-over-cable (aka VoIP, or Voice over IP) - I’m hooked. I have Cable/Internet (Time Warner/RoadRunner) and have phone provided by CallVantage - sound quality is very good - not quite as good as a regular land phone, but much, much better than cell phones in my house (which is why we went for VoIP rather than going completely wireless). I have only had one slowdown of the Internet while using the phone in the last 6 months, and it only lasted about 15 minutes. Ma Bell has seen the last of my $$


If this is true, why is it that people living out of town/city cannot get highspeed through DSL? They can certainly have a telephone line!

(BTW I live out in the country.)

Distance. You have to be within about 18,000 feet on the central office to get DSL. Rare in the country.

If you’re too far from the office to get regular DSL, you can probably still get IDSL, which is DSL over an ISDN line, but it’s more expensive and slower (144 kbps).

Yes, the physical limit on the line for conventional ADSL is 8 Mbit Down (ie: 1MB/s) and 1Mbit up (ie: 125KB/s). To get any faster, you would need to use VDSL or something higher.

However, it’s also highly unlikely that your son’s game could consume anywhere near 1Mbit upload. At those speeds, you could almost stream full resolution video and as other posters have said, most online games use something like 3 - 5% of that figure. What’s most likely is that your router is set up incorectly so that any access to the internet will block access by other computers.

No. We all can surf simultaneously. The way I have the router split up, I can have 5 machines running on the same DSL line. Were it not for The Man-Cub gaming, we all would never feel a lag at all.

I am on the fence in a big way. I almost switched today to Cable Highspeed. Didn’t at the last moment, since the cable person was unable to tell me how many folks are subscribing on the line I will be sharing. I’m in a fairly suburban area, but still- if there is ONE head cable for 10,000 people, I’m kinda screwed.

Cable always is made out to sound faster than DSL. I’m tempted as heck…but… -twitch-

I have ADSL and my DL speed is 2.3 MB/s according to a bandwidth speed test. Of course my actual file DL rate is only about 350KB/s

I’m still happy, coming from dial up where I could DL files at 6KB/s

You think you got troubles…

*:: Friend of mine’s Mother was from Sicily and his Father was from the Ukraine and so he said he was born with more personal problems than anyone. He said, :I’m a Whop-olock." *

I uesd to linve ion a small town that was served by a family owned, local phone company far from a big town. They provided 330K’s up and 770k’s down for $50 / month. On their ADSL.

We moved to the country and are back on dial-up.

*::: I don’t wanna hear no more whiney butt in here. ::: *

After reading the thread I think there is something to clarify:

There are three types of connections:

  1. Connections with a total limit on bandwidth per line, examples: Ethernet (non-duplex) (However, Ethernet as Internet connection is rarely used outside an ISP server hosting situation, and even there it’s almost always full-duplex, see below)

  2. Connections with a seperate upload and download limits on bandwith per line, the limits can be the same (examples: SDSL, ISDN, T3, Ethernet (full-duplex)) or different (example: ADSL)

  3. Connections with a seperate upload and download limits on bandwith shared between all users up to a specific point in the hierarchical connection tree, examples: cable connections, satellite connections, cell phone connections (GSM, UMTS, etc.). Again, the limits can be the same or different. However, to create an attractive product, the providers usually increase download bandwidth and decrease upload bandwidth, as this reflects normal users needs.
    Testing of the bandwith of your connection:

Due to the windowing algorithm in TCP/IP and packet latency it is a bad idea to test your upload/download bandwith, with only a single ongoing connection (for example a single large download).

If you want to get a somewhat more reliable measurement you will need a tool that displays the net rate of transmitted packets and bytes (netstat for example) and a number of parallel TCP/IP connections (for example multiple large ftp downloads to different targets preferably on varying location on earth (or at least the U.S.).

Just an example from my own experience: Some years ago we had installed some of the first 1 Gbit Ethernet cards on a server of our customer. The customer then witnessed a decrease in NFS (v3 over TCP) performance and attributed it to the “flawed new 1 Gbit technology”. I personally investigated this performance issue and indeed, as long as I used only a few parallel NFS connections, they did not even reach 100Mbps together. Then I added more NFS connections (I am talking about hundreds of connections) to other servers and I actually got up to about 700Mbps. Well further investigation showed, that the ATM routers in the backbone were not able to handle the increased packet rate created by our server. These routers dropped cached routing information too early and therefore added severly to packet latency. After those routers got an firmware upgrade, that enabled some sort of packet switching ability, the performance problems disappeared.


Mostly for Cartooniverse:

YMMV, but I have the whole entire package that my cable provider offers (Cox). Telephone, internet and cable. Never noticed a single outage of -anything-. Phone tone/sound quality is as good as or even better than old phone line. And they proactively called me asking if it was ok if they lowered my long distance per minute rates. Phone company always tried to gouge me for the last drop…including charges that were later part of a class action suit.

I used to do some online gaming and my kid did more… and only had problems with lag time / latency when up against gamers that were primarily concentrated at universities etc.

That said, DSL might be better than cable in one regard IIRC, DSL (at least in this area) has/had fewer restrictions on whether or not you could run you own servers or hosts.

Dang it. Forgot to add something to previous message. About cable sharing at the head end… some cable company spokeperson once said something like " If we are that saturated at the suburban head end, we’ll be making so much money that putting another head out there to divide the traffic won’t be a problem at all ".

Well, something like that anyway.