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  1. #1
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    Modem Bottleneck

    I was wondering if a modem can be a bottleneck for my download speeds? Its a Thomson TG585 v8 and its one of those stock ones you get when you sign up to a new ISP (Plusnet, 8mb). Its also connected to a router.

    Anyway its about 2 and a half years old now and a couple of months ago the exchange in the village finally got upgraded. So going from a 800kb/s speed to 2MB(Steam Downloading) was a big thing. I am sure it could go a little faster then that as I am only 90 meters away from the exchange? I also went onto Plusnet to see what packages I could upgrade and damn I can not only get a package that is faster (16mb), it is also unlimited and 5 cheaper per month. Its really strange but I suppose there is a lot more competition to choose from now that I don't live in a arse backward village.

    I am waffling so in short should I buy a new modem to take advantage? Will it increase my speeds? I have seen these ASDL+2 modems which I am sure I can get now and work. Not 2 years ago when I was sucking on copper wiring instead of fibre optics.

    Cheers.

  2. #2
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    Firstly, all ADSL travels over copper - your house is connected to a copper wire all the way to the exchange. The new FTTC stuff extends fibre to a big green box in your street (Fibre to the Cabinet) - still copper into your house tho.

    That modem is an ADSL2+ item so it should be capable of speeds upto 24mbps - if it were an older ADSL modem it would have maxed at 512kbps!

    The speed you actually get really depends on
    a - distance to the exchange
    b - quality of connection
    c - speed at the exchange

    Stick your postcode into a speed checker (all providers have one) and see what your exchange is offering/what you max can be.

    Then take a peek at your modem's connection stats - the things you're interested in are the Attenuation and Noise figures for the down and upstream connections. They tell you what the quality of the line is like and if there's room to increase speed on the line.

    You might want to make sure you test it on the master socket in the house - and disconnect EVERYTHING else INCLUDING microfilters to do that.

    It's also possible your line has a profile on it to slow it down for some reason but only your ISP can find that our (from BT themselves).

    Bottom line - it's unlikely to be just the modem unless it's borked - and if you want a new modem, just sign-up with a new provider and you'll get one! :)
    Last edited by trjp; 09-02-2013 at 02:08 AM.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Your modem can have an impact on what speeds you're getting, say if it's defective or if it's a dodgy modem. At 90m from the exchange, you'd expect fairly decent speeds. Trjp covered the rest of it. Getting a decent modem is pretty important for improving stability - I have a Billion 7200n which is one of the recommended modems here in Australia. I'm 2.4km from the exchange on a dodgy line on ADSL2+. Theoretical max is 24mbps, but I only ever get as high as 6mbps. Before swapping to this new modem I had a lot of connection issues and sync speeds were all over the place. The new modem helps, but it's no replacement for a clean line.

    But you're on an 8mbps connection, right? You're getting 2MB/sec from Steam? That should be maxing out the connection... the max speed that an 8Mbit connection can reach should only be about 1MB/sec (8000 / 8 = 1000). Remember that connection speeds are reported in megabits (or kilobits), not bytes. Unless you're reporting your connection in MB/sec in which case that doesn't apply. Could you clarify if your 2MB figure is in kilobits or kilobytes (i.e. reported by the modem, or reported by Steam/some download)?

    Getting an ADSL2+ modem is useless unless you're on a 2+ service. If you're capped out at 8mbit I don't think you're on ADSL2 but check anyway. Also if you think ADSL service is backwards, it's the primary service over here in Australia ;) even in the cities! at least until the Federal Government stops playing favourites with their new fibre network rollout.

  4. #4
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    Plusnet are fairly on the ball and I'd expect their modems to be fairly good - they even do the (seemingly crazy, according to any other ISP) step of changing the default user/pass before even shipping it to you.

    They also provide your estimated and current speed in your account online: https://portal.plus.net/my.html?action=data_transfer_speed

    Also, I didn't think ISPs limited by speed as part of the package, only by throttling during high traffic/you using too much?
    Last edited by Danny252; 09-02-2013 at 01:21 AM.
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  5. #5
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    Just to clear up the speeds - I get 17.5-18.5mbps actual connection speeds that works-out at 1.8-2Mb/sec downloads - the exchange is about 90m as the crow flies - I think that's about as good as it gets (my Noise figure is under 6db which means I'm pushing my luck a bit)

    The exchange tests the line and adjusts the profile based on drops and unsyncs - some people think if your modem is dodgy or you power-it-off too often that can have an affect - but it's not like your speeds are painful?

    The max possible speed on ADSL2+ is about 30% more than I get - so maybe a little over 2.5Mb/sec from Steam - but I've never seen anyone get anything like that. I know people closer to the exchange and they see little more than I do.

    If you really want more oomph, I've seen a couple of FTTC installs which were getting almost exactly twice my speed - so 4Mb/sec (that's about 12Gb an hour). I really don't care about that but I'd love faster uploads, I'd love to be able to backup more stuff into the Cloud. I have a 60Gb Dropbox account but filling it would take weeks!!

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny252 View Post
    Also, I didn't think ISPs limited by speed as part of the package, only by throttling during high traffic/you using too much?
    Not sure if it's the same over there, but I'd presume it is here - the advertised speeds are maximums limited more by the technology or load balancing (moreso the former), but the chances of reaching them are fairly remote so it hardly matters in the case of ADSL. Some ISPs definitely do "hard cap" speeds though - here in Australia cable internet (fibre with coax lead into house) have hard limits which you can regularly reach and max out. I presume similar things happen in other countries with tech like FTTH.

    Most ADSL implementations range between 8mbps and 12mbps max downstream (G.DMT and GLite), with ADSL2 being around 12. ADSL2+ goes up as high as 24, but I don't know anyone who gets that. A while ago here in Australia the base ADSL plans were 256k, 512k and... um, maybe 1.8mbps, can't even remember but it wasn't much higher than that. Sometimes they'll limit the speed for "last mile" service to achieve better stability.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the replys. I wasn't really bothered if I could get more speed, 2Mb is not to be sniffed at. I always found it misleading when ISPs advertise there packages as UP TOO 8mb like you could ever get that speed plus I thought maybe a modem can be a bottleneck like most computer components can be. Anyway I did do a speed test and I can get up to 19.1mb so I think my line is the Boss. I'm just capped on it due to the current package I have. I don't think i'll bother with a new modem, this one seems to be working just fine.


    Could you clarify if your 2MB figure is in kilobits or kilobytes (i.e. reported by the modem, or reported by Steam/some download)?
    On Steam the max it downloads is 2MB or 2048kb if I'm getting it right. I always use Steam to test out my REAL download speeds as it always downloads at the maximum my line can handle.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiphat View Post
    On Steam the max it downloads is 2MB or 2048kb if I'm getting it right. I always use Steam to test out my REAL download speeds as it always downloads at the maximum my line can handle.
    Then if your line has a "max" of 8Mbit downstream you're doing very well - Steam reports speeds in KB or MB/Sec.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Boris's Avatar
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    Your modem can be the bottleneck if it's a really old one. I once had a Copperjet 1616 and it was pretty slow (I think it capped out at like 8Mbit). I called my ISP and the guy didn't even believe I still had that old POS (I was grandfathered in when my current telco acquired the one I originally signed up with).

    They sent me a new modem and my speed increased (at the time, I think it was 2008, I paid for a 16mbit line). So, it's possible. What is the advertised rate on your connection?

    I'm 1000 meters away from the exchange (according to copperline test), I pay for a 30mbit/3mbit line and I get 32mbit/3mbit. At 90 meters, you should easily get the maximum advertised transfer rate.

  10. #10
    Lesser Hivemind Node Bobtree's Avatar
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    I wore out an ADSL modem that was around 8 years old. When upgrading from 3 to 7Mbps last fall, it got 4 briefly, but then became progressively slower. The ISP replaced it for free with an ADSL2+ modem/router/wifi combo (a Westell 7500) which happily gets the full rated speed.

    This Slashdot discussion is what made me suspicious of the old modem: Why Does Wireless Gear Degrade Over Time?

  11. #11
    Network Hub Rath's Avatar
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    If you've got a problem with the exchange itself, good luck getting anywhere with BT. If they dragged their heels any more in fixing problems like that in my area, they'd be moonwalking by now.

  12. #12
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    It's worth remembering he's getting about 75% of the maximum possible UK line speed - and 95% of the max I've ever seen (and I've seen 100s of connections as I fix the things!!)

    Getting significantly more than 2Mb/sec from UK broadband requires either Virgin cable (and a miracle) or FTTC which is about 3-5 times the cost.

    I'm actually struggling to think of a single good reason for faster downloads - faster uploads would rock but the cost isn't trivial.
    Last edited by trjp; 09-02-2013 at 09:30 PM.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Boris's Avatar
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    Seriously? In that case, UK internet sucks. I'm on a cheapo line, and it's 32/3 (for 22,50 euro/month, including phone and free local calls.). The best they sell right now in my area is cable at 120/10mbit (!) with phone and TV for 63,95 euro/month.

  14. #14
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    I can apparently get FTTC for three times what I pay now (it's hard to nail the exact cost as it's a TV/Phone/Broadband package) - I know that BT's standalone service was over 40/month when launched and has dropped under 30 already (I suspect due to lack of interest?)

    That gives you 'upto 76Mb' download (three times the previous max) but anecdotal evidence is that few people see anything like that sort of speed. Typical speeds are more in the high 30s to mid 40s. Uploads are 'upto 7 times faster' and they seem more consistent. I would still take me a day-and-a-half to fill my Dropbox tho...

    There is also an "upto 160Mb" option but no-one I've spoken to has managed to qualify for that yet and I'm really not seeing the point!?

    The big problem in the UK is that cable never took-off. It had 2 brief periods of popularity which both ended in the company being bought-out and all implementation cancelled. It seems unlikely anyone would go that route ever-again, so in the UK we're stuck with whatever ADSL/SDSL solutions BT are working on.

  15. #15
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    I've got FTTC for about 15/month. It#s the "up to" 40MBIT package, that gets 40MBIt (near enough), at a location where ADSL2+ (up to 24) gets >4mbit.
    A friend in the same development got BT's 70mb offering, and gets >60

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    The big problem in the UK is that cable never took-off. It had 2 brief periods of popularity which both ended in the company being bought-out and all implementation cancelled. It seems unlikely anyone would go that route ever-again, so in the UK we're stuck with whatever ADSL/SDSL solutions BT are working on.
    Cable never managed good coverage here in Australia due to the expense - population density even in the major cities is fairly low, so ADSL2+ emerged the popular choice to piggyback off the copper phone network. It was just too expensive to run cable for maybe a few subscribers. Costs for access are also pretty high since we rely extensively on international links since nobody wants to put servers here in Australia for anything, so data costs are absurd for some ISPs (particularly the faster connections).

    Since then though they've realised that trying to force the old copper network to work with broadband is batshit crazy when things just keep getting bigger, so the government pulled its thumb out to build a proper FTTH network called the National Broadband Network (which it'll then proceed to sell, because assets). Unfortunately they've managed to screw up the deployment by prioritising safe or marginal ALP political seats as an incentive to vote. My seat (a very, very safe Liberal seat) has been entirely ignored and they have zero plans. Meanwhile the Libs can't make up their mind on whether they want it or not. They've tossed around some ridiculous wireless plan, which is never going to work. Lately though they've admitted that we need a network that doesn't suck.

    Politics and ISPs, goddamn mess.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Boris's Avatar
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    Yeah. Those political dinosaurs need to realize that fast internet is vitally important for a nation going into the future. They're rolling out FTTH here as well, but the rights to do so have been sold to private companies who are taking their sweet time. The rollout for my house is planned for 2015, which is absurd. Hell, there are even new houses being built right now without a fiber line. Put that stuff in there now, even if you can't connect it yet.

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