Net Geek Questions

      • How come when you log on it says “connected at 30-40-50+k/sec”, but when you download anything it slows to only 3, or if you’re lucky, 4.25 kbytes/sec? (-This is through AOL; Netscape may be faster; I haven’t had to try it yet.) I don’t think I have ever seen anything download faster than 4.25 k/sec. I just had to download Netscape Nav/Com (to reach a site AOL wouldn’t reach) and I see that it very often says transfer rate is 5-8 k/sec and ranges as high as 10.4 k/sec. Is Netscape that much faster? - MC

This is the rate at which you’re connecting with the modem at the other end (your ISP)if you have a 56k modem and they have, say a 28.8 you’ll connect at the lower speed. This is negotiated between the two modems when they’re “training” (screeching at each other).

The speed at which you’ll download a file is dependent on many more factors present during your connection.

To expand just a little on Ookpik’s answer –

The data being received has to find a path from the source to your computer. This requires negotiation, which takes some time, and may not find a particularly fast path even then. In addition the path may be shared by other users at the same time and the bandwidth available to you may be only a small fraction of what the line is capable of. Also, the connection may be made and broken several times – this is particularly true of HTTP (the http:\ at the start of URLs).

There’re more, but these are some of the main ones. The really amazing thing is that it works as well as it does, or even that it works at all! Everyone should write a nice letter to Al Gore, thanking him for his invention.

In short, the initial description of the speed is like the EPA estimate for your car. Actual mileage may vary.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

MC wrote:

Because the “K/sec” that your modem is connected at is kiloBITS per second, not kilobytes per second.

It takes 8 data bits, 1 stop bit, and 1 start bit (for a grand total of 10 bits) to receive or transmit one byte with the standard modem protocols.

Visit the Internet Stellar Database at

Pluto wrote:

Please, PLEASE tell me you were joking there!

Connect rates are measured in kilobits per second, whereas download rates are usually measured in kilobytes per second. Since 1 byte is typically 8 bits, a download rates of 4.25 kilobytes per second is equivalent to 34 kilobits per second.
Throw in the control information needed by the download protocol you’re using, and you’re probably not losing much.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

tracer – I’m waiting for Al Gore to tell us he was joking.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

Gore’s taken more flack on this point than he deserves. I remember clearly enough (it was not all that long ago) when he was one of the principal political backers for the “Information Superhighway”. It was not by any means clear at that time that the pre-existing ARPANet would evolve into today’s Internet and assume the role. (And indeed, the current IP squeeze and the desperate fighting over domain names shows that the alternative, a newly constructed super-net, might have been a better idea after all.)

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

'cept that we certainly wouldn’t have wanted to wait that long, and the new net is really an outgrowth of the technology of the current internet. The new net is designed to easily become a superset to the current internet, so we can take both at the same time.

Dan Quayle:

“Yeah, if that guy invented the Internet, then I invented spell check.”