Question: I have heard about how fast DSL and cable modem Internet connections are, but my DSL connection doesn’t seem very fast. Is there a way I can test how fast my connection actually is?
Answer: Yes, there are a few different sites that allow you to do this. The one we like the best is Speakeasy.Net. Go to the Speakeasy site and click on the Speed Test link (lower right corner of home page) and then select the Server in San Francisco (for Bay Area residents) for the most accurate measurements. The results will be in two components: Download Speed and Upload Speed. Download speed is the rate at which data flows from the Internet to your computer. Upload speed is the rate at which data flows from your computer to the Internet.
DSL and cable modem (Comcast in the Bay Area) connections vary in terms of technology and data speed. A standard residential DSL account will generally have a download speed as high as 1.5 – 6.0 mbps (megabits per second) and an upload speed of 384kbps (kilobits per second) – 1.5 mbps. One megabit equals 1,000 kilobits. However, based on the technology that is used, DSL speed can decrease the farther you are from a phone company switch. So you may not receive the maximum data speed, and sometimes it can be significantly less than the maximum. AT&T has also come out recently with a range of different download speeds (384 kbps to 6.0 mbps) and different prices ($14.95. to 34.95/month).
Cable vs. DSL
Due to technology differences comparing cable modem and DSL data speeds is not a true apples-to-apples comparison but it’s relatively close. Comcast currently lists their residential service download speed as 6.0 mbps with a price of $42.95/month. Comcast also advertises a “PowerBoost” technology that it says will deliver speeds as great as 16 mbps when downloading large files. Our testing has shown many clients consistently receiving download speeds in the 7 – 30 mbps range in Marin County. Upload speeds for Comcast can vary from 1.0 mbps to 3.0 mbps.
Prices and data speeds will continue to fluctuate and evolve over time so the above number may not be 100% accurate. Check with each Internet Service Provider for current info.