What is "high speed" dial up internet?

I just saw a commercial on TV for the NetZero ISP. One of their main selling points is their $9.95 per month price. But they also advertise a $14.95 “high speed” service that they say is up to 5x faster than regular internet.

Given that this is neither cable nor DSL, how do they get the extra speed? Is this just a bit of advertising exaggeration? What’s the deal?

It uses data compression, and caching of often-accessed information. The actual transmission method is standard dial-up modem.

Considering how much of the stuff out there is compressed already, I think the 5x speed claim is a bit optimistic.

Of course, they do say “… up to 5x faster…”

The largest source of their speedup claim is precaching. This tracks what sites you visit most often, then downloads them so that the next time you visit, they can simply be pulled from the cache.

But that, in effect, is the equivalent of providing a customised proxy server is it not? And one would think that if one keeps a relatively healthy file caching locally on board one’s PC, the net benefits are extremely minimal. Especially if, as a user, if the majority of your hits are “unique” hits - like refreshing the main page of the Great Debates Forum here on the SDMB. Every time you hit that page, the database engine with the SDMB sends a new page out to the user. That page can change 15,000 times a day on busy days.

Ergo, in such instances, the net benefit of proxy servers are zero - totally zero. And you’d definitely be wasting the extra 6 dollars per month.

True. It is largely pointless. But, for example, if the user does something like hit cnn.com every morning, this could save some time.

I was wondering about this, but couldn’t find specs. I figured the “compression”, as it’s subscription based; hadn’t heard about the precaching.
I was assuming they probably did some pre-fetching of links too. (Where their software would download the contents of all the links on a page you’re reading, so that when you finish and click on something, the data is already there.)

There’s a recent article on web accelerators here.

In my experience, caching systems suck big time. Eventually you will run into the situation of a page has been updated, but the caching software doesn’t realize it and continues to feed the old page. And since it’s off of your computer, there is no reasonable way to force a new page reload.

I avoid it if at all possible.

Yeah, I would spend the money on a faster computer. The faster my computer is the faster the web is for me. I know this cause I use the same ISP.

That’s not accurate, handy. Your browser will certainly run faster, but your actual data transfer rate won’t change one bit.

But… but… Q.E.D., I have an Intel!

But what about the new v.92/v.44 protocols?

This is what my ISP at least claims to use, but I don’t see a difference in speed, and my driver says my modem is v.92.

The v.92 standard has a number of features, but actually getting them depends on your modem and ISP.

First, the connect time is reduced. The modem remembers certain characteristics about your phone connection, and takes them in to account when starting a connection.

Second, a new compression protocol, v.44, allows for greater throughput. Actual performance, however, depends on the type of data being transferred. Text usually compresses well, but pictures, which are usually compressed to begin with, tend not to accept additional compression. Unfortunately, a v.92 modem doesn’t have to support v.44 compression. This may be why you haven’t noticed a performance benefit.

Third, the standard supports the pausing of the data connection for voice use. You need Call Waiting and software to handle the switch. It’s not unlimited, though. Your ISP will drop the data connection after a certain length of time.

Finally, increased upload speed. It’s not much, but it helps. Ideally, you can have a 48 kbps upload speed, a 20 kbps increase from the 28.8 kbps maximum of the v.90 standard. Whether you actually get the increased upload speed, however, depends on a number of factors including phone line quality.

There also use to be a technique called shotgunning where you could use multiple modems at once to connect to your ISP which sort of acted as a larger pipe. Not sure if this is still used or not.

Well, you can always rely on the Dopers. My question has been well and truly answered, it seems. Thanks for the input.

“Your browser will certainly run faster, but your actual data transfer rate won’t change one bit.”

Well, of course. But the web is faster when my browser is faster & thats better in my opinion than paying $5 more per month.