Which is to say, 50,000,000 bits per second to our home. It feels great.

I was one of Vancouver’s earliest broadband adopters, back in 1997 when it was still called “ADSL”; one big megabit per second and hot damn was that fast after years of dial-up. We’ve upgraded modems a couple of times but it’s still been DSL via the telco. The current plan had us at 3M down (we didn’t get anything like that) and some pitiful trickle upstream.

Shaw is a local cable company; they just upgraded their network and have some nice-looking plans. We signed up for “Broadband 50” ($49/month); they also offer a “Broadband 100” which I’d spring for if I believed there were sites out there that could get me data that fast. I suppose it’s for people who want lots of aggregate bandwidth, i.e. they’re running dozens of torrents.

The installation was snappy, everything Just Worked, and the modem came with four RJ45 sockets so we even managed to simplify the home network a bit. A visit to Speedtest.net showed as much as 51M down. (Speedtest is apparently supported mostly by Chrome ads from my employer (snicker).)

Of course, as soon as you get on WiFi, your throughput drops to 40M or so; the notion that the pipe coming into the house is fatter than the internal WiFi is a little mind-boggling to an old fart like me. Ping times are as low as 11ms on a beefy hardwired PC, never faster than about 17ms on my MacBook, and upwards of 30ms on WiFi. I’m wondering if the difference between 11 and 30 ms of ping time is going to be observable in any real-world application.

Upstream speed is 2.85M regardless of what’s plugged into what. That sounds lame compared to downstream, but we’re not planning to serve any public web sites out of the basement, and my pictures upload insanely faster than on the DSL.

The modem is an SMC SMCD3GN. I wonder if it can be usefully hacked?

I suppose that DSL is dead? Mind you, we’re sharing the cable with others, so it’s possible that if we get five torrent fiends on the same loop, this goodness could leech away. But for now, color me happy.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Steven Blatt (Jun 18 2011, at 10:24)

In 95 I was the only one in the hood with a frame relay 56k direct to the house. Was $400 a month... and Superfast....:)

We have Comcast Cable here now 50 down 14 up.

Sheer Joy.....


From: Katja (Jun 18 2011, at 10:40)

I don't think DSL is dead. I have friends in Germany who live in a rural area and who get 16Mbit/s DSL (upload speed is 1 MBit/s). That is more than sufficient for most people and doesn't require cable access.


From: bitboxer (Jun 18 2011, at 10:49)

I don't think DSL is dead. Here in Cologne, Germany I am using a 100MBit DSL. They put Glasfiber to the building and have the DSL Router in the basement and everyone connects with a dsl modem to it. I don't share my 100Mbit, I can use the complete 100Mbit for my Downloads and a 10Mbit upstream. The best about it: it only costs $40 :) .


From: Matt Leidholm (Jun 18 2011, at 11:05)

The problem with using ping times to judge network "speed" is that it primarily tests latency, which is only one aspect of speed and is the one most affected by WiFi. The primary benefit of your new super-fast Cable modem will be in sustained throughput--i.e., seeing those 1080p YouTube videos fly into your home. Enjoy!


From: Juan Lupion (Jun 18 2011, at 11:48)

I was just recently upgraded to a FTTH plan with Telefonica (50M down, 5M up), courtesy of the company's struggle to preempt the competition in our town.

I was in a 6MB/512kb plan and found, to my dismay, that there was not any dramatic speedup. Sure, the speed tests are amazing -even on wifi I can get 48Mbps- and I can setup two bittorrent clients in my network downloading at full speed, and they scream while I can surf with no noticeable slowdown.

But 50MB is just overkill to just surf the web, IMHO.


From: masklinn (Jun 18 2011, at 12:32)

> I suppose that DSL is dead?

When FTTH is available? Sure.

But keep in mind that your DSL situation is sub-par: in France you can get 28/1 (max, not necessarily effective) for 30€ (~40 CAD) a month, and there are countries cheaper than that in eastern europe.


From: J. King (Jun 18 2011, at 12:48)

In my household we have 10Mb cable from TekSavvy, and it's a real pleasure. It's not blindingly fast, to be sure, but downloading something at 1.2MB/s is more than fast enough for me, and the price is right at 36$/mo.

We used to have DSL via TekSavvy, and the line was quite unreliable, disconnection was frequent, speeds could be erratic, and of course it only went up to 5Mb/s. Is DSL dead? Maybe it is. Certainly Bell is doing everything they can to make that happen, it seems to me.


From: Ted Wood (Jun 18 2011, at 14:06)

DSL is alive and well. I'll choose it over cable any day. I use several internet connections in my day-to-day work, and the Shaw cable connections, while faster overall, have higher latency and don't hold an SSH connection for long. On my ADSL connection, I can be logged into my servers for hours without a blip.


From: Tim (but not THE Tim) (Jun 18 2011, at 20:13)

The cable companies may see price competition (local telco Century Link here is trying to sell us "Prism" which is high-speed but supposedly doesn't require a phone line? - they don't say what it is though), but I think they are smart to become aggressive about selling high-speed internet access: at least they will make _some_ money with the coming changes where content providers make their "television" available directly over IP to consumers.


From: Michael G. (Jun 18 2011, at 23:03)

I've used TimeWarner Cable RoadRunner service here in New York City ever since they started to offer it around year 2000. At that time the advertised speed was leaps and bounds over Covad DSL that I had for a year prior to that, and Verizon was not even close to offering their DSL service where we lived.

At the time I've finally canceled the service a month ago, the advertised speed that I've been getting was 10Mbps/500Kbps, with actual speed at times reaching 19Mbps/480Kbps (using TWC speed test page). For comparison, the fastest DSL speed that is offered by Verizon in our area is 3Mbps/1Mbps.

Starting around three years ago, our problems with cable internet began when our old trusty Toshiba cable modem had stopped working. TWC replaced it with a cheaper Thompson/RCA modem that had become their new standard modem by then.

Over the following three years I've had to replace the modem about six times, with four of them within 6 months of each over in the summer and fall of 2009. This was especially frustrating because I've started to work remotely from home at about same time. The modem would start dropping connections erratically, but will not stop working completely, making it extremely difficult to detect and diagnose. Being at my wits end, I've decided to purchase my own cable modem, Motorola SURFboad SB6120, in January 2010. It had proven to be the most reliable cable modem I've ever had.

However the quality of the service had began to deteriorate at about the same time, with speeds and latencies fluctuating heavily, most likely due to overloading of the copper cable network in my area. And even though TWC had started to offer the 50Mbps service, it is quite expensive at USD $99/mo and does not deliver the throughput over longer periods of time according to user reports.

Thus you could imagine how happy I was when I saw Verizon trucks installing the FiOS fiber network in our area starting in March this year. They've brought it live over the last weekend in April, and I've got my FiOS installed in the middle of the third week of May. Having used it for a month now, I could not be happier. I've ordered the symmetrical 25Mbps/25Mbps service, and it delivers sustained throughput at these speeds that most of remote servers are unable to match. I've seen a peak throughput of 1700 KBps while downloading Ubuntu Live CD directly from their server over Wi-Fi connection from my MBP. It would be very interesting to see the sustained throughput speeds of your connection (e.g. while downloading a CD image from a very fast server).

In any case, cable internet is much faster when most of the DSL services in North America, despite the fact that you are sharing the bandwidth with your neighbors. Enjoy it, and be ready for an FTTH deployment in your neighborhood!


From: Martin Probst (Jun 19 2011, at 03:32)

I used to have cable for some time in the Netherlands; it was completely unusable in the afternoon and early evening. I'll take my own line over a shared one at any time, even if it's slower on paper and maybe at 3 in the morning.

DSL is dying, at least in urban areas here in Germany FTTH slowly encroaches it. They started with fiber-to-the-block yielding "DSL" with 50 mbit, and are now offering straight FTTH in some places.

But outside of cities I'd predict that you'll have DSL for a very long time. The 16 mbit/1 mbit is sufficient for a lot of people (h264 @ 1080p is ok at 10 mbit).


From: Michael Richardson (Jun 19 2011, at 17:54)

So, if our "router" has 4 sockets, then that means that you have the NAT function built in. I think that this is a seriously bad idea for anyone who cares about their network. That means no port-forwards, no IPv6, and almost no chance you'll ever get new firmware.

Also, stay away from the "powerboost" stuff, as it most certainly makes the bufferbloat issues must worse. See http://www.bufferbloat.net/


From: Dave Duchene (Jun 21 2011, at 11:26)

I was a very satisfied Shaw customer until last week, when I discovered that they had rolled out broken DNS to all of their customers: www.shaw-broke-my-dns-and-all-i-got-was-this-lousy-search-page.com. They provide an opt out, but that isn't going to help a significant portion of Canada's online but less cluefull population that now was subtly broken name resolution.


From: Pablo Montilla (Jun 22 2011, at 05:37)

Here in Uruguay we have a single (reliable) option for wired connections, and comes from our state owned telco (ANTEL). I have been enjoying 3.5 up and 0.5 down for the low, low price of USD 72 a month. Yay!


From: Peter Ludemann (Jun 26 2011, at 23:14)

With ADSL, I found out that upstream speed matters when my daughter decided to download some big stuff while I was trying to VPN to work (you need to have same # of packets going upstream as downstream). Unfortunately my router didn't support QOS tuning.

So, I'm pretty happy with my 20Mb/s symmetric internet in Tokyo even though 100Mb/s is common ... not sure how it's provided ... probably fibre to the apartment and then some kind of throttling router to the individual apartments ... it's sufficiently cheap that it's included in the rent (they charge for everything else, including $5/month for bicycle parking).


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