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Cable Speed - How Fast Is Cable Modem Internet?

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Question: Cable Speed - How Fast Is Cable Modem Internet?
Cable modem has long been recognized for its superior speed compared to other forms of Internet service. Is cable modem speed really that much better than alternatives? If so, how much faster?
Answer: Cable modem speeds vary widely. While cable modem technology can theoretically support up to about 30 Mbps, most providers offer service with between 1 Mbps and 6 Mbps bandwidth for downloads, and bandwidth between 128 Kbps and 768 Kbps for uploads.

Cable Speed Considerations

Did you know your cable speed will vary depending on the usage pattern of your neighbors? Cable modem services share bandwidth among subscribers in a locality. The same cable line connects to many households. If many of your neighbors access the Internet simulataneously, it is a distinct possibility that cable speeds for you (and them) will decrease significantly during those times.

The causes of cable modem speed problems are similar to those of DSL or other high-speed Internet services:

  • Service glitches. Cable speed can suddendly drop if the service provider has technical difficulty with their network. Speeds should return to normal after a few minutes or hours.

  • Spyware on computer(s). Even when your network may be functioning at full speed, spyware programs may be consuming the modem bandwidth, lowering your cable speed.

  • Mis-configured wired or wireless router. Routers sit between your computers and the Internet connection. If not functioning properly, a router can greatly limit the cable speed achievable on all computers.

  • Slow wireless network connection. In some cases, a very slow Wi-Fi connection between a computer and a wireless home network will not keep pace with the speed of the cable Internet connection.

  • Old computer(s). Very old computers lacking sufficient processing power or memory cannot keep pace with a high-speed Internet connection.

As with DSL services, some cable modem services are symmetric (providing equal bandwidth for both uploading and downloading), but most offer much higher download bandwidth to match the typical needs of residential customers. Check with your service provider to determine the typical bandwidth levels associated with your subscription.

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