Networking

Peter Cochrane's Blog: Squeeze more speed out of your broadband

It's easier than you think

Compiled at my home near Woodbridge, UK, and dispatched to silicon.com via wi-fi later the next day.

My office looks like Armageddon. There are cables, CDs, instruction books, cardboard boxes and ADSL modems covering most of the floor and desks.

Rather than clean up, I recently let curiosity get the better of me and decided to conduct some speed tests to make sure I am getting the most out of my dual ISP service. (See more details in my previous blog.)

Before I started the test, my two broadband lines were maxing out at 6.5 and 3Mbps respectively. During a stable period of the day I conducted speed tests with five different makes and types of router. Each cited result was the average of 10 measurement sets to ensure a reasonable level of stability.

Best to worst, the results spanned 5 and 2.5Mbps, through to 6.7 and 3.9Mbps.

So it looks as though I can scrape out an extra 1.1Mbps purely by choosing the best router in my possession.

With bandwidth so scarce, how can I resist?

I can't reveal the manufacturers/brands represented but the results look like this:

Just a word of warning should you decide to give this a go - do make sure you select a quiet time of the day or night. During the busiest hours my download speed changes dramatically (from about 2 to 6Mbps) due to contention - as depicted below.

There is one further feature I feel I should report: the fact the upload rate was pretty much the same no matter which manufacturer's router, or time of day, I chose.

Upload contention seemed to be totally absent and my rates reasonably constant no matter what the time of day or night, as seen in the graph below.

If, like most of us, you are suffering from the increasingly serious UK bandwidth drought, this technique may give you a much-needed boost of bits.

About Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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