Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly does the speed test measure?
Why do the results of my speed test here differ from the results of other speed tests?
The speed test measures the last-mile speed of your connection – the value promised by your service provider - using a server that is geographically closest to you. It does not measure the actual transfer speed of a file over the internet. That would introduce a host of variables into the test that are not under the service provider's control, such as the content provider's server load and bandwidth.
Why is there such a discrepancy between download and upload speeds?
The speed test has access to a fixed number of servers around the country, automatically choosing the one closest to you to conduct your test. But the server used may be farther from your actual location than is optimal. Other speed tests may have access to far more servers, allowing them to test your speed with a closer one and giving you a faster result. Another possible reason for a discrepancy between test results is the unit of measure given: the speed test measures in kilobytes per second; other sites may measure kilobits, megabits or megabytes per second.
What must be installed in my browser to run the speed test?
Most service providers configure their connections to favor download speeds over upload speeds, because there is far more demand for downloading content than uploading. If one direction of the test is not working at all, you might have a software firewall installed. Disable the firewall and run the test again. But don’t forget to re-enable the firewall when you're finished.
What if I have more than one computer?
The speed test should work in any browser that supports at least Flash 7. www.speedtest.net is well known site for speed test.
The results I get from the speed tests are higher than I'm seeing on other downloads. Why?
This essay was written assuming that you have only one computer at home. But many families (and many individuals) use more than one computer, in which case you want them all to use the same fast Internet connection. To do so, you’ll need to set up a small home network, in which one computer (connected directly to the cable modem or DSL connection) acts as a referee for all the other computers in the house. The setup for such a network is outside the scope of this article, but be reassured that it isn’t difficult to get one working. You should be able to find a local computer consultant (or brilliant nephew) to assist you if you don’t want to take on the challenge yourself.
Is all the content on the Internet free?
The broadband speed test is designed to reflect web traffic over other internet usages. Some ISPs monitor and slow down non-web traffic of various kinds, giving different speeds for different programs: also, other software behaves differently from web browsing and can be more or less sensitive to performance bottlenecks.
Can I make telephone calls on the Internet?
Much of the content of the Internet is free, but that is changing very rapidly as encryption and accounting technology is applied to the problem of exchanging the credit and debit information of Internet commerce safely and securely. The technology for electronic commerce is well developed, but it will take time for new fee-based services to develop.
Does the Internet support voice and video?
Yes, but the sophistication of the service is more like the early telephone services of the 1880's than of the telephone service of the 1990's. It is technically possible to place and receive telephone calls on the Internet today, but there are not yet any Internet-based directories and the performance of an Internet-based telephone call is more like that of a cellular call in a congested metropolitan area than the quality of a standard telephone call.
What is TCP/IP?
Yes, in a variety of ways. The Web supports audio and video clips as well as text and images. The Internet technology supports interactive voice and video conferencing, but Internet Service Providers typically either do not support general access to voice and video conferencing or they support a limited public voice/video conferencing system called the "MBONE", or Multicast BackBONE.
Is the Internet secure?
TCP/IP is actually two protocols, the Internet Protocol (IP) and the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). IP is a simple, yet powerful, protocol that provides packet services for higher level transport protocols, one of which is TCP.
IP is a simple messaging protocol. Each packet contains the destination address so it can be independently routed across the Internet. The job of the Internet router is quite simple: examine the destination of each incoming packet and determine which of several output ports to use to send the message onward. From time to time, routers communicate with adjacent routers to discover the current state of paths in the network, maintaining a table of destination addresses as they relate to output ports.
The network is not required to reliably deliver every packet. The network may drop or discard packets when overloaded. Routers may fail, communication circuits may fail or become overloaded, and the network of remaining routers will adapt their routing tables to the faults and send packets around the faults if paths are available.
TCP is a more complex, Transport Layer protocol which uses the simple, unreliable IP protocol, adding flow control, loss detection and re-transmission, congestion avoidance and congestion control features that provide a reliable path for the transmission of packets from source to destination. The upper layer applications are assured of delivery with each packet properly ordered and with no packets missing.
The innovative combination of a simple, unreliable IP on a network of switches or routers with a suite of higher level protocols including TCP, provides a very flexible set of data transport protocols that can serve a very wide range of applications over a single network infrastructure.
What kinds of security are available to Internet users?
On a broad level, the Internet itself is not very secure today. However, Internet access on an individual basis is as secure as each customer makes it. Customers need to implement security options such as encryption and firewalls to protect their data and internal networks.
Are there software viruses on the Internet?
Isn't the Internet a threat to telephone companies?
.There are two major types of security available: firewall and encryption.
"Firewall" is a term that describes the security between the Internet, and a businesses' own internal network. Through a technology partnership with Sun Microsystems, Southwestern Bell Internet Services includes as an option the premier firewall security product: FireWall-1 security software.
Encryption refers to special coding (encryption) of data that travels over a network, so that it cannot be de-coded (read) by an unauthorized user. Through an OEM reseller license agreement with Netscape Communications, Southwestern Bell Internet Services offers as a dedicated access option Netscape Navigator with its state-of-the-art message encryption.
The Internet is a threat to any company that fails to take advantage of the opportunity the Internet affords.